50 years PPL !

Here it is:
“December 7th, A Day That Will Live In Infamy…”
Oh – not the 76th anniversary of the botched attack on Pearl Harbor (which was never intended to be a surprise {though I don’t mean to defend “the enemy’s” actions – named, as I am, after a heroic, American Colonel from that appalling World War…}).
No, the anniversary I refer to is my own.
Because it was fifty years ago today – half-a-century ago – that I was awarded my Private Pilot License!
Half-A-Century since I was “admitted” into that illustrious brother – and sister – hood of those who feel most at home when they are in the sky.
I’m not bragging – I’m really not.
I’m humbled by the fact that my 18/19-year-old self somehow managed to pull it off.
And I’m AMAZED that I’ve somehow managed to survive this long…
Like most of my “Baby Boomer” generation, I didn’t expect to live much beyond the age of 30.
(And I almost didn’t, thanks to the now-infamous “600’ fall to my death” back in ’81 – when I SHOULD have died but – SOMEHOW – survived. {Though I STILL don’t know HOW}!!!).
But I AM still here – still flying – some five decades after I started.

I had hoped to mark today with a flight. But Southern Canada has finally realized “It’s Winter” and there is a bit of a blizzard blowing outside (with temperatures beginning their – inevitable – downward PLUNGE).
But that’s okay.
I flew last Saturday (in a Cessna 150 VERY much like the one in which I got my license), and I got to watch Widgie make her “last-flight-of-the-season” in her beloved Pietenpol on Sunday.
Close Enough. <g>

So how DO I mark this day; one of the most definitive landmarks in my life?
Well – as long as the roads stay open – I think I’ll take my Partner, Best Friend & Lover into town this afternoon so we can sit by the fire in a little coffee shop and reminisce about some of the MANY aerial adventures we’ve shared together.
Yes. That should work nicely…

But what about me, personally?
As I look back on ALL the thousands of hours I’ve spent in the sky, or all of the hundreds of planes I’ve flown – is there some flight that stands out above them all?
The answer, amazingly, is YES.
And even more bizarre is that it took place on a simple ferry-flight home from Guelph to a glider-strip down the road – in our Piper Tri-Pacer (you know – the one with a {shudder} “nosewheel”!)
A cold front had gone through and “the back of the front” was passing by JUST to the north as I arrived home.
The sky was extraordinarily clear – except for an angry, black squall line, flashing bolts of lightning from cloud to cloud up ahead.
Below, the freshly-washed grass was a brilliant green, and the setting sun lit the whole scene in colours that bordered on the surreal.
As I looked in awe at this sight, I clearly remember thinking “It’s time to go down, but I don’t want to – No … I CAN’T.”
The entire experience was almost more than I could bear, and if there was any way I could have pulled it off … I don’t think I would have ever landed again.
Why? Because I’ve never felt such an overwhelming emotion that this was “Home”! THIS was/is where I belong. Not on the ground, but up here in the sky where I can experience the ultimate sensation of what it truly means to be FREE.
How strange that of all the flights I have made … all the planes I’ve flown … all the adventures I’ve survived … it should be this little 20-minute ferry flight that is BURNED into my memory.

I think that was the day Michelle and I decided – when our time here is done (and it can’t be THAT far away) – we won’t be buried, but will have our combined ashes released into the sky.
(Whoever goes first will wait patiently for the other. We’ll be in no hurry…)
For the greatest pleasure we’ve found in this life is to fly in close formation – each in our own plane – each in control of our own lives – each staring in wonder as the person we love most drifts gently off our wingtip, while we float free through a perfect sky – as our dazzling home planet rotates oh-so-slowly beneath us.
A good way for two Pilots to end this particular existence, we believe…
But until that time comes…
MORE flights.
MORE adventures.
MORE “Love & Laughter in the Sky.”

So, congratulations on your 50th, “Fearless.”
For ONCE, you deserve it…


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