“Your connections to all the things around you literally define who you are.” – Aaron D. O’Connell
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
The Second Amendment and An Airport Converge
To Succeed – “I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream.” Bill Walton
When I was accepted into the the Federal Aviation’s Administration’s Air Traffic Academy in 1976, I knew I was on the right path. At the same time, I had no idea what I had signed up for. It was daunting in every way.
I remember, after having passed the first phase of academics, challenging in itself, my class of 16 was now headed to the dreaded non-radar labs. “Phase III” of a thirteen phase program known to be a phase in which “50% will not make it”. I don’t mind saying it, I was nervous, partially because I was not aware of the process.
On the first day of labs, the Air Traffic Academy Superintendent passed by our class, first to congratulate us for passing Phase II and then to encourage us as we entered Phase III. However, the superintendent said something that gave me courage. It was something like: “You have been tested and accepted into this program, so we know you have the aptitude to do this job. All you have to do is apply yourself”. I thought, “I can do that”. Ahhh hope. I trusted what the superintendent said and in the process behind all the uncertainty.
The Process – “I Can Do that”
At that moment, I knew I would not be distracted, party instead of study, or otherwise drop the ball. I had been told I had it within me to succeed and I determined to give this opportunity my full attention. Still, it was not easy and there were obstecles. For instance, we were not allowed to miss any days or be late for any reason. Not even illness. It was winter in Oklahoma, I was not eating right, nor sleeping well and there was just a bit of stress (sarcasm). Yes, I managed to get the flu.
Succeed By Showing Up and Staying the Course
I have an audio recording of a graded pass/fail lab problem while hosting a fever of 102 degrees. I did not pass, managing to score a whopping thirteen “conflictions* (you were not allowed any to pass a graded problem). But I was there and I finished. Fortunately you were allowed one failed graded problem and still pass the course. It was also a Friday, so I had the weekend to get over the creeping crud. Ultimately, I graduated. I trusted the process.
There were many more challenges and not a few moments in which I really wanted to walk away. Even after becoming a journeyman controller, there were moments, even days when I wanted to disappear. Invariably, t\someone or something would remind me to trust the process and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Most of the time it was that still small voice inside that said “I will never leave you..” that I have come to recognize as the voice my Father God. Now that I have retired from the life of telling pilots where to go, I have been employing the same “trusting the process” in developing my second wind for this season of life.
“I Can Do That”
Micheal Hyatt was made known to me as a virtual mentor through hearing him interviewed by Dave Ramsey. Micheal’s book, Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World, had just come out and they were discussing the book in the context of the whole entrepreneurial thing. I bought the book and just like those many years ago, I thought, “I can do that”, and so it started. I am still figuring it out as I go, putting one foot in front of the other, learning, studying and trusting the process. This BLOG is one aspect of this new life.
Another aspect is an intentional personal development or a personal growth plan (PGP). One element of my PGP is reading books. Yes, good old fashioned reading. I was inspired to be intentional about this through Mr. Hyatt as well. In both his BLOG and through podcasts he talked about the benefits of consuming a balanced diet of books:
1. Reading makes us better thinkers
2. Reading improves people skills
3. Reading improves our communication skills, including speaking and writing
4. Reading helps us relax
5. Reading keep us young (I am all for that!)
Process – A Personal Growth Plan
I thought, “I can do that”. So in my annual PGP I set a goal to read or listen to 3 books per month. I endeavored to divide these between fiction and non-fiction with some in an audio format. You can see the list of books completed on my Pinterest 2017 Book reading list. I set aside a minimum of 20 minutes each morning as a part of my quiet time and 20 minutes before bedtime for this activity. Fiction reading is reserved for my evening routine.
Instead of going out and spending money on books I did not know if I wanted to keep on my shelf, I have been giving my local library a serious workout. It has been wonderful. There are a few I ended up purchasing as I wanted to mark them up and keep for future reference, but for the most part the public library has been a great partner in this goal. I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed this activity and its benefits.
So once again, by trusting the process, in other words, taking someone’s advice even if you can’t see or understand the rationale, I have found myself in a better place.
*a confliction meant that two aircraft got closer than the required margins allowed. Opps!
Is there some process you have simply taken someone’s word on? How did it work out? Please share it in the comments below!
When your values are clear to you, making choices becomes easier. – Roy E. Disney
From the moment we became aware of more than our need for food, water and a warm cuddle from our parents, we have been faced with the awesome and sometimes bothersome privilege we have as humans: making choices.
At first we had a lot of help from our parents and others who influenced our formation in making those choices. Ideally, we were introduced to solid values from which to make choices:
- Values that go deeper than our mood on any given day
- A plumb line that provides objectivity for decisions in situations that arrive in subjective, feeling based moments.
This privilege of making choices by stepping outside of ourselves is one of the many things that sets us apart from the rest of creation. We have free will. It is the part of our soul on which our life and its activities pivot.
Remembering A Hard Decision
- in my 5th year and final stage of radar training to become a journeyman air traffic control specialist.
- a non-active and reluctant member of PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
Choices by Others
- I had taken an oath.
- I had given my word.
- therefore, could not participate in any action to bring the USA “to its knees”.
Choices In Hindsight
You have a free will
Get away and unplug. You’ll come back stronger than ever. – MICHAEL HYATT
Milestones By Comparrison
- The Coupe is a low wing, the Cessna a high wing, thus visibility is quite different.
- Although my Coupe has rudder pedals (early models do not) they are less critical than in the Cessna, because….
- The Coupe’s engine is mounted to compensate for the “P” factor, pulling the aircraft to the left, where as one must use rudder to compensate in the Cessna
- The Coupe uses a hand brake, the Cessna, toe brakes integrated into the rudder pedals
- The Coupe is about 300 pounds lighter than the Cessna and has a much lighter touch in the controls
- The trim on the Coupe has less impact on how the aircraft flies than on the Cessna
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
This is the last of three installments of a short story about vision, an airport and flying.
I soloed January 10, 1992 and received my single engine land private pilot license in June.
On July 4, 1992, I flew the Aircoupe to the national Ercoupe convention being held in Newton, KS, just north of Wichita. My family was also there, and I flew Daddy as my first passenger, in the Aircoupe, and as a licensed pilot that day.
Daddy ‘s piloting days may have been over but his vision for an all-weather airport lingered. During the years I worked at Wichita, Daddy and I had several conversations about the FAA airport trust fund that was available for communities to develop local airports as a part of the national transportation system.
In 1995, My FAA career took me to Brussels Belgium during which time the coupe was tucked safely away, looked after by friends and family. Mom and Dad moved to Wichita where they cared for our home during our stay overseas and to help with their transition to retirement. I flew each time I was back for a visit. In 1999 I returned to the states. I was assigned to the air traffic safety office in Fort Worth Texas. Daddy’s health was failing.
I found a living situation at an airport near Fort Worth where I was able to acquire a hanger with an apartment. In this space I could keep the coupe, my car and have a home away from home for this last season of my career. I looked forward to having Daddy visit our hangar home, but that was not to be. In March of 2000, Daddy died from multiple melanoma cancer having only seen pictures of the Coupe in her newest home. As far as I know, He was not aware of the new plans underway for the airport he had envisioned. Yet the seeds of the vision and dream were growing. Continue reading Daddy – An Airport Story in Three Parts
“Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.” Jean Genet
This is a continuation of a previous post. Enjoy!
“The day arrived and on September 14, 1969, Daddy became a certified private pilot. He logged 1114.45 hours of flying time over the span of 19 years and one month, almost to the day. His first lesson was at the Phillipsburg, KS airport in a J-3 Cub on October 14, 1962 and his last logged flight was from the Plainville airpark on September 21, 1981. Most of the hours flown were in Aircoupe N3052G. In high school, I was a frequent flyer passengers.
The coupe became Daddy’s transport, companion and therapy; his place to dream and escape. It would be years before I understood the relationship he had with that little plane. The coupe remained at the Plainville Airpark until 1991.
In the late 1960s and into the early 70s, in addition to running his auto parts business, Dad became involved in local government, both as councilman and later as mayor. So as time progressed, the coupe’s time in the air began to dwindle. In the mid to late 70s, economic downturns and health issues, infringed further on Daddy’s ability to spend time in the air. There were rumors that Dad had offers to sell the plane, but he needed to keep her close, even if she had to sit quietly on the ground looking south from her open hangar.
Activity at the airpark came and went. The one major issue: water. The field was well drained and a perfectly fine grass strip but rain, snow, ice and other kinds of moisture hampered consistant use. In fact, there were no all weather airports in all of Rooks County. In 1978 he and several others began to work on a plan to correct this. The vision was modest: simply black top the airpark runway. Plans and proposals were made with rationale far beyond just a few guys with a hobby. As mayor, he could see it as an extension of main street for business, as well as providing access to medical flights, and other emergency needs. Perceptions, costs, and local politics got in the way and plans ended up on the shelf. The time was not yet.
In the meantime, I had left home, married and began a career with the FAA as an air traffic controller. When that career brought me to Wichita, KS in 1988, I decided to finally get my private pilot’s license. I had wanted to do this since I first flew with Daddy, and had even begun training at one point, but the right time had finally arrived.
In a phone conversation with Dad, I asked if the Coupe was flyable. His answer was evasive: “it was flying when I last parked her in the hangar”. I asked how long it had been. “A couple of years”. I asked if I could use it to build the hours I needed to get my license, his response after thinking it over, was “if you can fix it, you can fly it”. I had no idea what was involved. I later discovered it had been 11 years since her last airworthiness check. It was going to be work.
My flight instructor and I flew his plane to Plainville to assess the situation in the fall of 1991. She was in sad shape. It took two more trips with different assortments of mechanics before, on a cold March day in 1992 she departed Plainville Airpark on a ferry permit for her new home in Wichita.
In the meantime, I had continued my flight training and realized the Coupe would not be the plane I would build my flight hours in. The plan had shifted. Daddy was ready to share her with me, and so we took joint ownership. When I was not supervising a shift at the Wichita air traffic tower/TRACON or working on some aspect of my pilot training, I was assisting the team of mechanics bringing N3052G back to an airworthy condition.”
I know, this was more about an airplane than an airport, but one exists for the other! The final installment of this airport story and vision next time.
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” ― Wilferd Peterson
“I turned left onto a half-mile final for a south landing. There it was, five thousand feet of new concrete; an airport thirty years in the making, carved out of farmland in rural Kansas. My Kansas. My roots. My spirit welled up as I made my final traffic call, “Rooks County Regional Airport traffic, Aircoupe three zero five two golf, on short final for runway one-eight. “ The little red coupe seemed to perk up as I trimmed her to follow the visual glide path to a flawless, slightly cross-wind landing. I could almost hear Daddy smile from that great cloud of witnesses as we taxied off the runway onto the ramp toward the waiting crowd.
I had been following the progress of the new Rooks County Regional Airport (KRKS) since I learned, during a 23 year high school class reunion in 2006, that plans were back underway for an all weather airport near my hometown. So when I was invited to the dedication by a former classmate, I knew I had to fly the Aircoupe back “home”. Continue reading Dreamers – An Airport Story in Three Parts