Young and Crazy
We both took a couple of lessons and loved it. When we talked to our instructor about continuing, he said it was actually cheaper to buy a small plane and use it to learn to fly. So we did. How crazy is that?
We were living in the New Mexico oil patch, "40 miles from nowhere and 2 feet from hell," as the postcards sold there proclaimed. Driving to the nearest large city (Lubbock, Texas) took several hours so we thought a plane made sense in that we could just fly somewhere when we wanted a taste of civilization.
So we bought a plane from an agency in Santa Monica. A pilot flew it in, and we were amazed to learn that the plane had once been owned by the king of the cowboys, Roy Rogers.
I wouldn't give anything for those years we were plane pilot/owners. We had some amazing adventures and met some amazing people like Zip Franklin who took us in his ranch truck to his ranch out on the Caprock.
Zip's ranch truck was an ancient Cessna stripped on the inside to make room for hay bales. Zip was an aviation pioneer who had two sons. Both sons ended up being stunt pilots in the movies and were headliners in airshows.
We landed between 2 outcroppings of rock. We touched down on this mostly level ground, overgrown with tall weeds and rutted so badly that we bounced up and down as we rolled along his makeshift runway. That heart in the throat feeling, traveling over rocky ground and hoping you stop before you reach the cliff, is something you don't experience every day.
I didn't know it then, but memories like that, and the emotions they call forth, are rich source material for writing.
Jerry Crawford, Wings Over Texas, said: "To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home."