Cessna 172 tail zero two echo on the ramp at Watertown Municipal Airport, waiting on a cold Wisconsin morning.
Yesterday was a day I won't soon forget. Flying an airplane had been a dream of mine ever since the day my father took me up in a small Cessna over Macon, Georgia. The dream was interrupted on December 10, 1967 when my father was killed while at the controls of the plane he was flying. Had he lived, I am certain I would have had a career in aviation. But without him, I had no guide in that respect, and I had no idea how to break into the field. Not until much later did I realize how possible it was, but by then I had a family and no resources to change my career.
In fact, it was another deep loss, the death of my mother, that enabled me to pursue this personal goal. Beginning in April of last year, and after nearly 59 flight hours, over 200 takeoffs and landings, and a lot of sweat, I was presented with a stiff examination of my skills in the practical exam. Many times I thought I was sunk. But the examiner, a very nice older gentleman, stuck with me, saw that I capable, and approved my certificate. Waves of emotion coursed through me, and continue even as I write this. For I have, after all these years, paid my father the honor he so deserved. And with that I honor my mother, who made this pursuit possible. I only wish she were here to celebrate with me.
There are many people I would like to thank for their support. My wife, for understanding perfectly what this meant to me. My brother, who never really knew father, but did pass along his flight logs. I owe you a ride or two. To all of my readers I give thanks. My primary instructor, Adam Warnemunde; good luck with your career, I hope you get that Skywest job. Other instructors, Kevin Loppnow of Watertown, and Paul Dwyer of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who not only gave me a great mountain orientation, but fixed some landing problems I was having. All of the great people at Wisconsin Aviation. And finally to Adam Curry, whose podcast I started listening to in 2005 just at the time he earned his private certificate. His enthusiasm for aviation and joy of flying helped me realize that it was never too late to fly.
What does my flying future hold? As much pleasure flying as I can get in. Perhaps as time goes on I might be able to afford an airplane of my own, and maybe an Instrument Rating. But the major goal is accomplished. And I'm still in the clouds.
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