An ex-fighter-pilot-turned-CFI has an endearing but unorthodox teaching method.
April 26, 1998
I did not have a
clue what I was in for.
Young, naive, but with a thirst for the
air that has yet to be
quenched, I approached Mansfield Airport some 20
odd years ago and
climbed into what I thought was a small trainer
formidable Cessna 150.
Then my instructor began the
beguine. We climbed ever skyward, on
the lookout for mythical targets
about us. "Look, there's one!" he
gruffly shouted. Innocently, I looked
about and queried, "Where?"
"Why, our 6 o'clock. Let's dive!" And off we
were in a dive towards
our ghostly prey, not in a 150 built in the early
70's, but in a P38
fighter, ever ready for danger and high drama.
I loved it and couldn't wait to get up those coming Saturdays as
sun barely hit tree top level and we were airborne again and I
hearing over and over his stories of conquest and crashes and of
long gone. We wore no headsets then, but his voice was easy
to hear and
from it I gained all the confidence I needed to master
the air. It was in
our blood and he never bored from it.
Others might have found his
manner strange, the repeating over and
over, but from it I found much to
The yoke was mine from the start and only taken away on
quick 6 o'clock dives for unseen targets. Through his eyes I
scanned about the horizon and saw how the sky met the earth. He, through
those too few lessons, tried to give me the accumulation of what he knew.
Fuel was running low in the early '70's, and at first I
understand why, on my first solo, he was driving his car madly
the runway. How was I to know I was supposed to just take off, go around and land and not fly away?
We had never used the unicom,
so I could not hear him. All I knew
was that I had to solo and I was
I miss you, Mr. Kenny Sullivan. I still fly, when the
early sun is
at tree top level, and look for 6 o'clock targets.