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So Many Reasons to Fly

While I haven’t had occasion to fly fixed-wing lately, I have been doing a lot of rotary-wing work courtesy of the Michigan Army National Guard. I was recently at Fort Rucker, AL, finishing up a 5-week Tactical Operations course, which is just one of the many qualifications I am expected to achieve and maintain as a new UH-60 MEDEVAC pilot. Next on the challenge list is achieving Pilot-in-Command (PC) status. If all goes well, I am on track to get that done this month, part of that includes an evaluation of my instrument flight planning and execution procedures.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Sweet Aviation for getting me back into the aero environment and making me current as a private pilot last year. Instructors Bob Schmelz and Craig Brown really helped me “knock the rust off” some admittedly dilapidated aviator skills, and that certainly paid off in time for my UH-60 transition training earlier this year. But I actually had an ulterior motive to justify my investment in getting current. My dad was in the midst of a bitter struggle against cancer, and one thing he persistently reminded me of over the years was that he’d really like me to take him flying. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a true life crisis to focus one’s resolve and commitment to make things happen.

On February 26th, 2012, Dad and I finally broke free of those surly bonds together and took to the skies in the N660DC. It was a bitterly cold and windy day, but this was our chance and we weren’t going to miss it. We took in the view as we flew over the houses of friends, relatives, and even made a lap around Lake James, a favorite family summer retreat from my childhood. All in all, it was a tremendous day aloft. After landing, taxi, and shutdown, Dad looked over at me, still smiling, and with total awareness of his own condition said, “Thanks son, guess I can cross that one off my bucket list.” Indeed.

Sadly, my Dad passed away a few months later on June 21, 2012, on his 71st birthday. I do miss him dearly, but I am so immensely grateful and proud to finally honor his request. I owe a heartfelt thanks to Sweet Aviation for helping me make that memory.