Wings of the Tern Blog

Previous Articles: First Flight; Stolen Memorys

First Flight

I have often tried to reconstruct that first flight in my mind.  It occurred when I was about twelve years old during a trip to San Diego with my parents.  My father, a building designer, semiannually attended conventions in such places for the American Institute of Building Design.  My mother and I would tag along to enjoy the social activities associated with such functions.  One of my dad’s professional friends, from the local area, had invited my father and me to one of the nearby airports to go for a ride in his little airplane.

The sky had always captured my imagination.  Often, as a young child, I played the part of a pilot in my make believe games.  Pretending to be hurtling through space in the , “Space Patrol,” or flying a WW II fighter or bomber was always high on my play list.  Another favored activity was pretending to be on a helicopter mission, imitating episodes, from the popular, “Whirlybird,” T.V. show.

In the early 1950’s, I also used to hang around the small airplane spotting station that had been set up on our neighbor’s property.  These little stations (a product of the cold war) had been set up around the country and manned by volunteers to record what types of aircraft were flying over.  The program only lasted a short time.  When the station was closed down, the woman that had staffed it gave me a handful of the airplane silhouette cards that she had used to help her identify types of airplanes.

At last, here I was standing in front of the pretty red and white Piper Cub.  As the Cub was only a two place (seat) flying machine, my father and I had could only take our rides one at a time, and I no longer remember which of us went first. Other than that, I remember the flight very well.  I was strapped into the front seat of the tandem seat airplane, a common arrangement of pilot and light passenger in the Cub.  After takeoff from the inland airport, we climbed and flew west toward the coast before making a wide circle back toward the airport.  It was not a long flight, but I still remember looking down at the low puffy wisps of scattered clouds which were the afternoon’s residue from the morning coastal fog.

I remember well, that the sensations of flight were just as I had always dreamed they would be.  Each buffet of light turbulence and in fact, the very feel of the lift from the wings was as familiar to me as if I had already spent a lifetime experiencing it.

(From my book)

Stolen Memorys

The holidays have brought some new additions to our family along with some renewed memories of times past.  Thanks to current technologies (facebook & email) I did a lot of conversing with some old Air Scout and College flying buddies.  Even a long lost niece (the daughter of an old Army buddy and former brother in law) was able to re-establish contact with me.

Just after Christmas, my son Evan sent me a photo of him lifting my granddaughter up on his shoulders to set the star on their Christmas tree – a tradition we started when he was a toddler.  Then on Jan 2nd, he and his wife Jennifer had their second child and little Christopher became my newest grandson.

One Christmas memory that I have was of the year that another old Army buddy and I stole our Christmas tree.  Before you write me off as a total Grinch, hear the entire tale.

It was the year that Pete Abplanalp and I were stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.  We were newly assigned, so there was no way we were going to get a leave to travel to our homes for the Christmas Holidays.  Also, since we were the lowest on the officer seniority list, we both were assigned the detail of Duty Officer on Christmas Eve, for our respective outfits.  Because of all this, Pete and I had decided that we were not even going to buy a Christmas tree that year.

After getting off duty Christmas morning and sleeping most of the day, we decided that  it was finally time to get into the Holiday spirit.  Off course, by that time, all the Christmas tree lots were closed down which left us with theft as being the only alternate solution.  So late Christmas night, we snuck into a tree lot and carted off our Christmas tree when no one was looking.  We reasoned that we actually were doing the owners of the lot a great service.  That was one less tree that they were going to have to throw away as being unsold.


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