12 January 2020

I'm too young ...

... to go to my friend's funeral!  Yes, I'm old enough to qualify for (some) senior discounts, but my friends should not be dying at these ages.  He was 61.

He was an engineer and pilot.  We met in the flying club at the then $DayJob.   He was a VFR only pilot.  Never aspired to any higher ratings, but that never stopped him from taking extensive cross country flights.  Including Oshkosh twice (1800+ miles one way).  Heh, I recall after the 2nd one he said "We never got higher than 500 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) all the way home."  "Do you know how many 2000' towers there are out there?" I asked?  My flying philosophy is "altitude is life!"  Should the engine hiccup, altitude gives me time to diagnose the problem and/or find a suitable landing site.  Not to mention, we are above 2000' TV towers.

I learned a friend was selling his 1946 Aeronca Chief, $12k.  It's not a "practical" airplane, top speed was only about 85kts and no electric starter.  It was a tailwheel toy!  I called a bunch of friends to lay out a plan:  If we can get 6 people together and agree to some ground rules, we can buy it for only a couple grand each!  (I did not have $2k laying around, but I did have some "6 months no interest" checks on my credit card) - yes, I bought a (share of) an airplane on a credit card! It wasn't practical, but is was *magic* to fly!

He bought in and in time flew it to Oregon, some 15 hours of flight time one way.  He also got into "cruiser" motorcycles and took many long range rides.

He also went on to become an Executive Vice President at a DJIA company, though you'd never suspect it meeting him off the job.  Hell, I knew and he would barely acknowledge that part of his life to me.

During my ~30 years of knowing him, the only thing he failed at was "retirement".  He tried 3-4 times, but always ended up bored and found another job.

I am missing him already.