Someone once said, “A mile of highway can take you a mile, but a mile of runway can take you anywhere.” It wasn’t until I was 48 years old when I discovered I had a place in the world, a place in the sky, actually. This week, Erica V. asks us to share our place in the world. She writes, “Where do you belong? In the hustle and bustle of a big city or amongst friendly faces in a small town? For this week’s challenge, show us your place in the world.” You can see her entire challenge post here.
On August 29, 1996, I walked into a flight school in Fargo, and only a short time later, I actually brought an aircraft into the air, on my own… under the watchful eye of an instructor. Of course, I didn’t land the plane, that would come several lessons later. But I kindled a love for the sky that day and since then, I’ve logged over 1700 hours as a pilot in a single-engine airplane. In addition, I’ve spent untold more hours in small aircraft and hanging around airports.
Those first hours were spent in a 1970’s era trainer with gauges similar to those in the image above. The Cessna 182 panel in the photo above is one I find myself behind regularly as it is in the plane I use to tow a glider. At first glance, all the dials might seem confusing, but it doesn’t take long to learn what each one does. These days, in newer model aircraft, the dials are replaced by two digital displays and a collection of buttons and switches, and the information contained thereon is more complete.
In July, 1997, I was given my license to fly and in September of that year, I joined Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I’ve written about this volunteer organization before. CAP is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and CAP manages the largest fleet of single-engine aircraft in the world. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure and responsibility of being Pilot-in-Command of just a few of these well-equipped aircraft. I’ve landed at airports big and small, from El Paso, Texas to Hallock, Minnesota; from San Diego, California to Syracuse, New York in these small aircraft. Not on single flights from one to the other, but on flights that were destinations on separate trips. In the image above, a CAP aircraft just landed at Hillsboro, North Dakota and was taxiing to the refueling station.
The image above is a selfie captured on my longest flying mission for CAP to date. Last summer, Hurricane Harvey attacked the Houston Texas area. Six North Dakota Wing members and two aircraft traveled to Houston to help with the disaster relief mission. I flew just over 30 hours as pilot-in-command while our aviation photographer in the back seat captured images of the aftermath of the hurricane. My co-pilot, Shawn, is an instructor and he was invaluable in navigating the complicated Houston air space.
In the image above, Casey, our aviation photographer checks his gear while Shawn checks the oil as we got ready to depart on one of our mission sorties in Houston. I will sign off on this post with an image captured at a fly-in at Bismarck, North Dakota. That beautiful yellow Cessna was on display and the rising sun gave me yet another opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite places in the world, the airport. In most browsers, you can click on an image for a better view.