We were married in December, 1949 and a bit more than one year later,
we bought our first airplane. We worked on it, with the help of knowledgeable
friends, for several months to get it airworthy and in August, 1952,
I had my first flying lesson. Fred Potter was my instructor. After
5 hours and 35 minutes he signed me off for a solo. My wife ran all
over El Monte airport shouting that I was going to solo. I think about
50 people came out to watch.
The airplane was an Aeronca Chief, N22137, with a 50 HP Franklin engine.
When I had nearly 50 hours of combined solo and dual time, Fred recommended
me for a Private Check Ride. The Private Test was conducted by H. Riley.
Out favorite flight was to San Diego. We would get up really early
and fly to Lindbergh Field in San Diego and take the bus up the hill to the
greatest zoo in the world, the San Diego Zoo. Late in the day we would
take the bus back to the airport, eat lobster at Anthony's, and fly home.
The airplane was very slow, only a little over 50 mph, but we were
flying. We would fall into bed thinking this was the best day ever.
In late 1953 we sold the Aeronca and bought an Ercoupe, N3186H, which
was over twice as fast. We flew to San Francisco in March, 1954, and
New York, a three-week vacation, in April and May. We were in seventh-heaven.
Early in 1955, we sold the Ercoupe and purchased a Piper Tri Pacer, N692A,
with a friend, keeping it at Cable Claremont Airport. Some of the
places we flew were to Chicago, Red's Horse Ranch in North-East Oregon,
Sacramento, Monterey, Porterville and San Francisco. We visited friends
and saw wonderful sights from the air. Our son was born in October,
1955 with ~100 hours logged before birth.
In 1957, we bought a Cessna 195, N3009B, with a Jacobs 300HP engine, and
a cross-wind landing gear. Wow! Airspeed was 170 mph. Some
of the places we flew were to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce
Canyon, Las Vegas, Mazatlan, Guadalajára, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta
and Philadelphia to visit my sister and in 1958, Flagstaff, Santa Fe, Kansas
City, the Indy 500, Nut Tree Inn near Sacramento, Portland, Oregon, Victoria,
Seattle and San Francisco.
I now had 747 hours flying. In 1959 we did not have an airplane.
In February, 1960, we bought a 1956 Cessna 180. It had been
owned and flown only by an older lady who lived in Glendora, California.
It was and is a great airplane and we have never, ever wanted a different
airplane. We flew everywhere. My son often sat up front with
me. I would let him fly and it was a little while before I realized
that he was too small to see outside and was flying on instruments.
My wife, Linda, started glider lessons 1964. She had over 15 hours
of instruction and over 6 hours solo when, in 1965, she decided she wanted
to start flying the Cessna 180. There were 6 flight schools at Van
Nuys Airport, near where we lived. She visited each and asked if they
thought it was OK for a woman to fly. Four said no! She started
lessons in February. Earl Downs was her instructor. She earned her Private
License in June 1965. It was really neat. There were not many women
pilots and hardly any that flew a Cessna 180. Even airline pilots would
lean out of their cockpit to watch her.
In 1967 we moved to McLean, VA, near Washington, D.C., and hangared our
airplane at Manassas, VA. I was a political appointment in the new
Department of Transportation. With a change in Administration, I was
abruptly unemployed, so I went out to the airport, arranged for an instrument
instructor, and in about 10 days, I had an Instrument rating. Later,
I worked in the FAA's headquarters and was amazed to find that there were
only 4 others of the 5,000 people in headquarters who owned an airplane.
I retired from the FAA in 1991 and we moved to California, MD where there
was an airport only one mile away. In March 2002, we gave the Cessna
180 to our son and family who live in Colorado Springs, CO. It is a
really excellent airplane for the higher altitudes there and they are really,
really enjoying it.