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Flying Above All………….


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Tex and the Corsair

The darkness was inky black. Tex drove to the airport, saw the runway lights in the dimness, and was ready. The Corsair was waiting. Day flights, made over time, had left him feeling quite comfortable with the big bird. This morning, with the moon long gone, the stars distant behind a high overcast, the blackness of the night encompassed him in the rumble of the truck taking him to the plane.  The darkness added a bit of tension in his gut….not much, but he could still feel it.

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Season’s End…Camp Is Over

As you may recall, I compared this to summer camp.  Camp is over.  The Parents are on their way.  I work as a “relief pilot” for our company.  That means every two days I move to a different plane.  With five planes, that means I work 10 days, and off 4…I’ve used the four days off to great advantage this summer.  (Pictures later…maybe…)

The word is we’ll be sent home soon..either way, we’ve had some of our planes sent home, so I’m out of a job.

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Dad

Eastern New Mexico is a desolate plain.  Wind whistling through the northwest corner of my paternal grandmother’s house left me with memories of nights when “lonely” seemed the only fitting word to describe a place.  As a child, I loved to visit my grandparents by myself.  The family of four kids and two adults provided little in solitude, and I enjoyed being able to explore the farm buildings, with their (seemingly) ancient books and relics of years gone by.  At my paternal grandparent’s house, nightfall brought amazing skies, and my taciturn grandfather wasn’t much for conversation.  Occasionally the wind would make the old house wheeze and groan, and I would lay there and listen, and think of my ancestors living in “half-dugouts” and houses that today wouldn’t be acceptable for hay sheds.

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The Fetus is Viable

One of the jokes I had with my youngest son while he was growing up was the old saw….”what is the Jewish definition of fetal viability?”  The answer is “when it graduates from medical school”.

I never pushed or encouraged him to pursue medicine.  Medicine has been good to me (at least it was for 25 years), and I enjoyed learning the human body, and understanding how our wonderful organism works.  Youngest son and I were pretty much by ourselves from the time he was in 6th grade.  He tolerated my world view, turned wrenches on planes with me, and at times simply got out of bed, rode to the hospital, and slept on a couch or hospital bed.  High school provided an opportunity for him to negotiate a better ride (translation: diesel pickup truck) as long as his grades stayed at a 3.5 GPA.  There were numerous times that wailing of “I just can’t do this!” was met with a shrug of the shoulders, and a “hand me the keys” statement.  It has always amazed me how much a boy can do, if he really wants to drive a truck.

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Back in The Saddle Again

As I mentioned, it’s been an unusual fire season.  A burst of activity early, then the monsoons arrived in Arizona.  Flying in from the East, the mountains appeared green, instead of the usual earth tones.  I’ve seen green grass all the way from Arizona to Oregon.  There is the usual discussion of the future weather….those of us who fight fire both hate it and love it.  We don’t like to see the destruction, but if there were no fires, we’d have no job.  The discussion on the porch of the tanker base has about as much reliability as the National Weather Service. Continue reading


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The Long Climb In

The vagaries of weather have created an unusual fire season.  We had a fairly quick start, then things changed.  Avoiding bed sores had become a large part of our daily routine.  Dramatic cutbacks in food intake were needed to avoid becoming so suddenly overfed that climbing into the plane represented a major challenge.

Speaking of climbing into the plane…I had never thought much of how we mounted/dismounted from the plane.  There are two steps that extend below the wing.  First the left foot, then the right, grab the handle, put left foot on wing.  Grab next handle, put both feet on wing. Continue reading


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Momma Made Peace With It….

My parents did not lavish gifts upon us.  We were expected to provide for ourselves any “extras”, or luxuries.  (Well, with the possible exception of my baby sister….)   My mother has said on several occasions, “I just don’t understand why all you kids work so hard”.

I told her, “Momma, you convinced us that the wolf was at the door, and if we wanted a fur coat, we better skin him!”  I learned at an early age that if you wanted something, you best be figuring out how to earn the money.  In the first grade, I “earned” my bicycle $0.05 and $0.15 at a time, doing chores, washing dishes, etc.  I guarantee it taught me the value of money to get $29.00 saved up like that.  And yes,  the money was in the “account” (in the Bank of Mom and Dad) prior to the purchase of a bicycle.  There wasn’t a policy of “buy it now”, with the parents conveniently forgetting to make you pay it back.  Yards were mowed for the neighborhood at age 8, and by age 12 I was running a tractor and a combine.  Continue reading


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Satloc

1973 was a significant year.  I soloed a plane (March), got my pilot’s license (May), graduated high school (May), bought my first plane (June), and turned 18 (end of June).  My first airplane ride was at age 12, in an old V-tail Bonanza, and the next time I was in a plane I was taking flying lessons.  During my high school years I had a variety of jobs, including school bus driver, TV/washer/dryer repairman, worker at a cotton gin, and just about anything that would pay a bit.  Far and away the thing that captivated me most was working on airplanes, and working as a flagman.

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