In 1967, I began taking flying lessons at Mahopac Airport, NY. This was a 1700 ft grass field located approx 60SM NNW of New York City in Northern Westchester County. I logged 2 hours in an Aeronca Super Chief and the remaining time was logged in a Cessena 152.
In 1968, I enlisted in the Army and soon realized that obtaining a pilots license on a salary of $87 per month would be impossible, although I did manage to log some time through the Military clubs. My last flight was in a Cessena 152 from Augusta, GA to Anderson, SC, my 100 mile solo x-country.
At the time I quit flying, I had logged 35 hours. Over the years, my log book and piloting tools were eventually discarded. This was a dream that never would come true.
For the next 30 years, everytime a plane passed overhead, I would get neck strain watching and wishing that I had stayed with it.
In 1994 I took up flying RC airplanes, thinking that this was the poor man's version of flying. Eventually, I discovered that this had evolved into a very expensive hobby too! My latest project was 1/5 scale model of a Stinson SR7B. The owner of the full-scale, Cary Seldon had become a very special cyber-friend and he also is a CFI in the San Jose area.
In January 1999, my wife came home one day telling me about a visit she had with the mom of one of my daughter's girlfriends. Apparently, her husband had started flying, obtained his license, bought a plane and was totally happy. She went on and on about how great their family life had become and how flying had changed her husband's whole attitude towards work, life and family.
Then the bomb was dropped. My wife stated to me, "You should start flying again and buy a plane too!". In my best conservative voice I yelled, "DONE!"
I spent several days talking with friends and interviewing flight schools. In southern California there are so many to choose from. Finally I made a selection and on March 2, 1999 I took my 1st lesson at Vista Air, located at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, CA.
My instructor, Don Depew, had been flying for 20 years and had just passed the 5,000 hr mark. We got along pretty well and I certainly have learned a lot from him. I have also learned so much from Cary Seldon through our exchange of email. All of the flight time is logged in a Cessna 172, most of it in N19688 pictured above.
On March 18, having logged 11.6 hours, I soloed again. I didn't experience any of the anxiety that I had felt back in 1967. On April 12, 1999 I placed a deposit on a 1962 Mooney M20C. On April 20, 1999 I completed all requirements (42.1hrs), now for some polishing and the checkride, scheduled for May 4, 1999.
On May 4,1999, having logged 56.9 hours, I passed my checkride and obtained my Private Pilot Rating. It took 2 months and 3 days Start to Finish.
On June 22, 1999, I completed the 10 hours of Dual Time. The airplane was hangared at Aqua Dulce Airport (L70) which is like a ghost town but the rent is reasonable. Later it was hangared at Whiteman (WHP) until it was sold.
On July 24th, 1999 a friend and fellow pilot and I flew the Mooney to Oshkosh, WI for the EAA Air Adventure. Our trip took us to Gallup, NM where we stopped for fuel and lunch, then on to Wichita, KS. We spent the night at a fellow Mooniacs home and on Sunday, we departed for Madison, WI. At Madison we met up with 75 other Mooneys, spent the night and had a wonderful BBQ. Monday morning we departed as a flight of 76 Mooneys in trail for Oshkosh. At Oshkosh, we camped as a group with our airplanes. The return trip took us to Lubbock,Tx where we spent the night with my cyber friends, Jo and Larry Griffin. From Lubbock we flew to Gallup and back to Agua Dulce.
As of Oct 12, 1999 I have flown for 203 hrs, 130 in the Mooney, and have passed my written exam for the IFR rating and accumilated 16.5 hrs of Instrument flight training.
I made a second trip to Oshkosh in 2000, this time I was the Regional Caravan Leader. From Madison we had 97 airplanes fly into Oshkosh!
The Mooney was sold in March of 2001. I had logged a total of 490hrs, 420 of them in the Mooney.
On August 17, 2001 my 2nd airplane arrived, a 1948 Stinson Flying Station Wagon 108-3. Back to training again, 10 hours Dual and a Tail Dragger Endorsement. I logged about 50 hours in this bird, then 1 hot day out in the desert, I had an engine failure on takeoff. Setting down in the soft sand about 100 yards past the runway, the right gear center punched a desert bush, the gear sheared off, the nose dropped, and the plane went over on it's back. Gas began leaking on the hot manifold and the plane burst into flames. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no property damage except for the plane.
N6818N is a 1968 Mooney M20G and was purchased as an airframe only. This was a ground up restoration. The plane had sat out on the ramp since 1977 on flat tires in total neglect. It was purchased in that condition by an A&P and he started the restoration.
As with any large scale project, the 1st couple of weekends I spent inventorying parts and cleaning up the work area. I was subletting the hangar from the A&P until the plane is ready to roll out, and then I will search for a new hangar to call home.
During the restoration, several major events took place. I became ill and went on disability. Eventually I had a liver transplant and because of this illness, naturally I had lost my medical. I spent several years attempting to get my medical reinstated to no avail. So much Red Tape.
The second event, I enrolled into an aircraft mechanic school located at Van Nuys Airport run by the Los Angeles School District. I completed my Power Plant Training and part of the Airframe training. I also enrolled in an Upholstery Class in the West Valley Campus and learned how to design and fabricate the enterior for this airplane. I did have 1 gloriuos trip to Oshkosh in 2006 and many trips South of the Boarder into Mexico. Finally I sold the plane in 2007 having logged about 600 hours in it.
I moved to Thailand and later relocated to the Philippines. This was a bad decision, and after 2.5 years, I returned to Thailand where the food is great and everyone is smiling.