I love airplanes. I have always loved airplanes.
Since I was a little boy.
I was lucky enough to be invited onto the flight deck of an airplane when I was 5 or 6 years old flying from Spokane Washington to Kalispell Montana.
My obvious fascination with the cockpit was not overlooked by the captain who graciously came back and took me to the cockpit and let me see what was going on.
I was fascinated by the lights, instruments, switches, and knobs.
The magnificent drone of the engines, And on this clear night It seemed I could see forever. The snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountain front range looming out in front of us,
I can’t tell you what airplane it was but I know it was a Northwest Airlines flight so I’m guessing a DC 3 but I do not recall well enough.
I did write a letter to Northwest Airlines back then and requested information about their airplanes, which they graciously sent some weeks later and to my surprise, it was a brochure of all of the aircraft in their fleet at the time. I was delighted.
My mother told me later in life that I signed the letter and added PS, if you don’t have any of these things just forget it.
From that time forward my life was filled with the thought and the grandeur of the freedom of flying aircraft.
Flying filled my imagination. I had to learn to fly.
During those same years television was still in its infancy and every night at midnight the local television station which was the only one we got always signed off with a video of an F-104 flying high along with the narration of the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie McGee Jr.
This is the poem.
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds,-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of.
Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God”
John G. Magee
Captain McGee died in 1941 at the age of 19 In a mid-air collision over England flying for the Royal Air Force.