For most, this Memorial Day weekend is a respite — a time for family, friends, and beginning the summer grilling season. It is most assuredly important to enjoy and embrace our hard won freedom. However, let us not forget those who stood boldly in the hot fire of their oath, paying all of themselves to fulfill what duty required.
We put together a short video as a reminder.
For most of us, the heavy hand of these dangerous deeds is so very far away, however, the sacrifices by those, “in the arena,”ever echo in the free air of our peaceful surrounds.
Everyone sees things in their own way… regardless, I am certain most pilots would nod in the affirmative regarding the sense of freedom found in flying. VFR flight, in particular, has in its essence a strong freeing quality.
While flying visually, you don’t need most of the instruments; through sight picture and pilotage you can successfully get where you aim. This freedom can be the sort that relieves stress, helps realign your overall perspective, and points you toward a sense of adventure— lifting you out of the mundane. Furthermore, if you love the mountains, combining aviation and the wonder of our national granite scapes — well that’s about as good as it gets.
To be a licensed pilot and fly on the airlines feels odd. After all, you can check the weather, look up the flight plan on Flight Aware, and plot it all out — but you have no control — at all, which is probably best. Okay, you can’t fly the plane but you can get a window seat! For this flight, the window will reveal the earth between Texas and Oregon. In late February 2014, we traveled to Oregon with sister and brother-in-law. My wife and I had been there a couple years prior, and were stunned by it’s beauty, so much so, we returned with family.
We found the Pacific Northwest to be a rather magical place. From Portland, for instance, you can quickly be on the coast, in the mountains, before waterfalls — the beauty is rather obsurd.
For the past few years, my friend Kenny has listened to me tell all manner of tales about flying. Given that he knows how deeply I enjoy flying, Kenny will, at times, look for opportunities where my skills can be of use. Over the years there have been several scenarios discussed wherein aviation might be helpful to Kenny or someone he knows. I flew a mutual friend of ours to a nearby airport one evening; I wrote about that in,“The Plane Was Made To Be Airborne.”
Kenny is one of the busiest people I’ve ever met. He had a scheduling conflict which put him in danger of missing a family member’s wedding. Harken the aero plane! Upon hearing of his predicament, I planned a flight to see what would be involved in the two hour journey. Initially, it appeared the weather on the way down would be pretty nice VFR. We’d stay overnight and promptly return the following day. Kenny is a busy dude, and doesn’t loiter, dawdle or frolic. Well, he may frolic a bit. I’m sure he’ll let me know. The return flight home, although nice, would beIFR for the first part of the flight.
The Homebuilt, the Puking — Oh the Puking
There was one little issue regarding the trip and it wasn’t weather related. This anomaly involved Kenny’s late uncle, Dale Milford, a WWII aviator, later a meteorologist, and a congressman. He even built his own plane. It’s registered as the Milford Buckaroo.
How in the great big earth could that affect our trip? Well, it involves a sick sac and that Buckaroo. When Kenny was nine, his Uncle Dale took him flying in that plane. What he remembers most is the wild and persistent vomiting. If you’ve ever experienced “wild and persistent vomiting,” it isn’t something you want to experience again — ever. According to Kenny, this involved multiple episodes of sickenss in the air and even after landing. Oh, and one small detail — Kenny hadn’t flown in a small plane since. That was 40 years ago.
Memorial Day — set aside for reflecting on the sacrifice by those who died, while serving their country. Having not done so, it is nearly impossible to understand what it means to face the terrors of battle, casting off instinctual self preservation — so we reflect, and are thankful….
Just yesterday, on the eve of Memorial Day, I was searching through an archive of my digital pictures when I found this audio. It is a short interview with Thomas ‘Gene’ Rogers, a P-51 Crew Chief during WWII.
Click the Photo Below for Interview:
As I am in awe of the, Greatest Generation; it seemed apropos to find the audio when I did. Six years had past since I last heard the man speak — a moment of sadness came over me… I realized, by now, Mr. Rogers had probably passed away. A few seconds long internet search, affirmed this.
I am thankful for the opportunity to hear some of his story, yet, I regret not asking to see his other pictures and hear more of his tales.
We pause, reflect, and we remember — we thank you!