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"Ya know, son, it's just as easy to fly on your *!?# altitude as it is to fly 50 ft. off your *!?# altitude. Now get back down there!" The words of my ex-B-47 pilot father during my instrument rating "flight training". Tough love, but effective. Those words came back to cajole (haunt) me many times during my career as a pilot for a major airline. My insane love affair with all things with wings (no need to douse yourself with gasoline as did the poor seatmate in "Airplane", this'll be short!) began at age 5, when I somehow managed to lodge the left main gear of a yellow model T-6, that my dad had built, up my right nostril. The excitement of a mad dash to the emergency room at 3am was enough to convince me, even at that tender young age, that aviation was way cool! (That color yellow is still my favorite) I can still remember my dad coming home after a fourteen hour flight from who-knows-where with that delicious flight-suit aroma of "I've been in an airplane!" Stuff like that stays with you forever. My dad's dream was to be a fighter pilot-early 50's, century series fighters, Yeager-what a time to be a "tiger"! Unfortunately for Pop, he graduated #2 out of fighter school, just when General LeMay decided he needed the "cream" for the B-47. My dad's dreams of fighter pilot glory were lost forever. Funny, though, that his and my favorite old movie is "Strategic Air Command", which features the B-47. We'll talk a few times a year, and he'll bring up something about the plane and the movie-"remember in that last scene when he's on final into Kadena and he can't move his right arm? What he should have done..." I think he's been lying to me all these years-he really loves that old bird. Pop is the smoothest, most natural pilot I have ever flown with-no, really, not just because he's my dad. The guy was (sorry, Pop,"is") good. Years ago, he needed some instrument currency at a time when I was a "hotshot" pilot for a regional airline. Shut one down, covered up most of the instruments-Pop shot it down to minimums, steady as a rock. The greatest compliment I have ever received from anybody, or ever will, was when my father told me, "Son, there are natural pilots, and there are mechanical pilots-you are a natural pilot." (He always said that I was the second best pilot that he ever knew-he was the first!) Pop doesn't fly anymore, and his health is starting to go. He can still recite the start sequence for the T-33, and the procedure for the inflight arming of the "device" on the '47. I'm in Lane's category of those that want our parents to know how proud we are of them, and how we can never repay how much they have given us. There are some parents that define us, for the better, for the rest of our lives. My Pop is one of those. I still hear his voice, "Ya know, son, it's just as easy to fly on your *!?# altitude..." I love ya Pop
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