It took me forty-seven years to earn my license, but it was worth the wait!
April 26, 1998
In 1950 I was asked by Dean Bill Bender to take a
my studies at Harvard College. Various extracurricular
seemed far more enticing than the books my family was paying
bucks for me to study. During a term forcibly spent at home on the island of Martha's Vineyard this wayward student took a course
didn't include in the curriculum at that time: highway
What a surprise to discover studying is a shortcut to a better
My parents were furious, but an Uncle offered me an incentive
to get back
into his alma mater, Harvard, and get my degree. He
fronted me the cost
of what I had always wanted: flying lessons.
An Air Force CFI
named Steve Gentle who had returned to Edgartown
after the war, taught me
the rudiments of getting a Piper J-3 Cub
safely into the air and back to
earth. That August he watched me
solo. I returned to Harvard in the
That was 1950. Money and time never seemed in confluence sufficiently to complete the license. In the Navy there were opportunities to ride in everything from P-3's to TA4's but the
Fast-forward to October 1996. Still dreaming of
flying, a casual
remark to my loving spouse of twenty-five years
intimated that were
the money available, the whole thing could be
consummated in week's
A week? C'mon, dreamer. In my
defense, it had been a few
She dared me to do it. She said
she'd find the money.
Is that a partner or what?
explored Whiteman Airport in the North East San Fernando
years before. It's small, almost family-like, hidden
under the big Class
C air space of Hollywood-Burbank Airport. That
was our choice.
The voice that answered the phone at Whiteman's Vista Aviation belonged to a girl named Patty. She had such a smile in her tone, I
sold immediately. Dusty Rhodes, owner and proprietor, put me with
Embry-Riddle graduate named Chris Green.
What a picture,
sixty-six years old, finally realizing the dream.
The private ticket was
awarded on May 22nd, l997.
Chris Green is now teaching my son,
Sid, to fly.
Forty-seven years between solo and license, but
thank God the
dream never died.
It's never too late. Flying is as
wonderful now as it was in 1950.
Maybe more so, after waiting for it for
so many years.
Never give up!