Wednesday, November 15, 2006


It was during one of those times when working in the field of education disgusted me. I wanted out. For me there had to be more to my life than runny nosed kids, head lice, helicopter parents, minimum wage pay and being confined to a 960 square foot room for 6 hours a day.

There were two or three periods in my professional life where I felt like leaving it. During one of these periods Candace had left for a vacation with her parents in Hawaii. I was left behind to wallow in my displeasure with public education. Enough was enough.

While Candace was away I created a Plan B for my next life which would be far, far away from education: I'd sell the house and use the proceeds to buy a supermarket somewhere along the California coastline.

I did just that. During her absence in Hawaii the house was placed on the market and sold. It was a surprise to Candace when she returned home all rested and relaxed to learn that the house had been sold and that I was planning to quit my job. This went over like a lead balloon.

I won't bore you with what happened after that. My unrest was calmed, I remained in education, Candace and I are still married.

Then there was the time when I was really fed up with public education. Flying jumbo jets for an airline was appealing. I dreamt of flying to farway places, enjoying haute airline cuisine (coffee, tea or me?), sitting and being cool in the pilot's seat of a 747. That was for me.

Pilot's lessons were the first order of the day toward reaching commericial pilot's status. The lessons began on a Cessna 150 very much like the one you see in the picture, even its condition matches that of the aircraft I flew.

My instructor was a former student who was also headed toward being a commercial airline pilot. Eric had his instrument rating, multi-engine certificate, and jet aircraft rating. He was good to go. And one day he did.

Lessons were expensive. One or two flights a month were all we could afford to pull from the family budget. Because the lessons were infrequent it took a while to reach the point of where Eric felt comfortable with my soloing.

It was a blustery, overcast day. The flight that day was a rocky one with the little Cessna being tossed about by winds coming from different directions. I pointed the aircraft back to the airport, did a downwind leg and then turned to head into the runway. The tower had just given me, "Cessna November 2 Zulu clear to land. Watch for the Piper ahead of you ".

On landing Eric had planned on hopping out of his seat and allow me to have my first solo flight. Winds continued to buffet the Cessna around as I guided it down onto the runway.

On touch down a gust of wind from the right side of the pushed the wing of the Cessna sharply into the air. We were about to flip over. Eric yelled, "Left aileron, left aileron!" I froze. I couldn't connect my brain to my foot to step on the aileron that would right the aircraft. Had Eric not taken control and stepped on the left aileron Cessna November 2 Zulu would have wound up on the scrapheap.

My confidence was blown. I was thoroughly shaken. What if Eric had not been there? I was so close to soloing I wondered that if another control issue came up would I be able to manage it? Or would I crash?

There were no more flying lessons after that. The dreams of flying to far away places went away. Thoughts of coffee, tea or me were replaced by , "Dad, please pass the ketsup".

Work on a masters degree started soon after that windy day at the airport. I was headed in another direction but not in the direction of the wild, blue yonder.

In the end, it always works out, doesn't it?

Now, if I would have only thought to mount a Plastic Jesus Action Figure on the dash of the Cessna . . . Posted by Picasa


Max said...

Two more fun stories that I didn't really know...

Bob said...

There are a thousand stories in the naked city. This is only a few of them, Max. There are more to come!

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States