When Susan and I lived in West Los Angeles, we occasionally saw the Goodyear blimp, and would drive around to see it land. For my birthday, Susan tried to buy me a ride on the blimp, but they had just recently stopped selling tickets to the general public. Somehow, she decided instead to buy me a glider ride at Lake Elsinore’s glider port. The ride was great fun, and of course included a logbook where my “first lesson” was recorded. This was the start of my flying “career”.
This was not my first general aviation (as distinct from commercial aviation) flight. That had been with Carl in his Cessna 150 (N3113X), near Mars, PA.
Lake Elsinore was a two-hour drive, but we went regularly, and I eventually qualified as a Private Pilot (Glider). At that point I could take passengers up in the Schweitzer 2-33. I was also cleared to fly the Schweitzer 1-26 single-place sailplane.
The oddest thing about qualifying was the check ride with an FAA official. The appointment was made, and he came to the glider port, but it turned out he had never been in a glider himself. He remarked on how cramped his seat was. We took off without incident, and executed the required maneuvers, and were still high enough to try to find a thermal. By chance, there was a hawk circling over the field, and I joined it in the thermal. The FAA guy was totally impressed to look out along the wing and see a hawk flying right off my wingtip. I passed.
The other stages of my flying career were:
- Giving rides to family and friends in the 2-33
- Joining the UNH flying club and getting my Single-Engine Land rating, and serving as the club’s business manager.
- Flying a 2-33 in the New Hampshire mountains
- Keeping Carl’s Cessna 150 in New Hampshire when he was assigned to work in Tehran, and flying it to Maryland after we graduated from UNH.
- Helping Carl by flying it in Maryland, for the cost of gas and oil.
- Flying a 2-33 at Deep Creek airport in Maryland.