Sunday, November 21, 2010


I was watching Harrison Ford on the Jimmy Fallon Show recently. (I DVR according to the actors I want to watch on any given talk show and usually skip to the interview of whoever I want to see). This way I don't have to stay up late unless I want to and I always have a lot of interesting interviews to watch. I started staying up late and watching Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show while I was growing up in Los Angeles as a teenager in the early 1960s. So I've always liked a good talk show format. Jimmy Fallon reminds me the most of Johnny Carson's personable style so I think he will be around just like Johnny was for a long time.

Pardon me, Harrison Ford was interviewed by several talk shows and I realized this specific one was not Jimmy Fallon but Conan on TBS with his new talk show there. Conan has a Blimp that he bought and he asked Harrison Ford if he ever flew a blimp. Harrison Ford said, "Yes. But they don't go very fast. You really have to like just being up there a lot because they go so slow." Then he asked Conan if he had ever been in a blimp. Conan said, "No."

It got me to thinking all the different kinds of planes that I have personally flown as a pilot as well as ones I have ridden in as a passenger.

I think my very first flight was in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1956 at a religious conference there with my parents. My father rented a horse for me and one for him and a wrangler to accompany us on his horse as well then when I was 8. Later he also rented a Piper Tri-Pacer so that I would stop bugging him to let me fly a plane. This was always a sensitive issue for him because his younger brother had died piloting his own plane in 1942. However, he finally gave in and rented a Piper Tri-Pacer for my to fly in. After the pilot took off, since my father had put me in the right or co-pilots seat with himself in back, the pilot let me fly the plane after take off until it had to be landed again. Since I was 8 years old I was in heaven. I had been given a 24 inch bicycle when I was 5 and began riding it all over town at that age and then at age 8 I was allowed to rent and ride a horse all by myself for the first time. My father just slapped the horse on the butt and off I went for the very first time on a rental horse. This was in Griffith Park near the miniature train rides back then. After I learned to fly the plane in the air and rode a horse by myself for miles in Griffith park I felt like a man and that I could do almost anything by myself. Then my grandmother gave me a Remington .22 rifle with pump action that my Dad owned starting when he was 6 when he first started hunting for food with his brother 4 with a .22 pistol and his older brother who was about 9 who had a shotgun. The first time they went quail hunting they were so young they brought back robins but there mother cooked them for the boys because their first time hunting was such a big deal and all. But Dad said the shotgun pellets from the small bird hunting shotgun they had to pick out of their teeth. So eating the birds wasn't as much fun as they had hoped it would be then in Coos Bay, Oregon in 1922.

So, when my father's friend, Ed found out that I had already flown a plane at age 8 he was anxious to take my father and I up in his 1949 Stinson 4-5 passenger private plane. It was yellow like a lot of planes then for visibility in poor weather since most people only flew VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Mostly public passenger planes flew IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) back then.

Since there were a lot fewer planes in the sky and there were so many ex-fighter and bomber pilots in the air  it could get pretty crazy those days from all the daredevil pilots out of world war II. But there is a saying, "There are old pilots and bold pilots but there are no old bold pilots".  Since I tend to be bold in everything I do physical I try not to fly very much as I would rather be alive for my wife and kids and friends.

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