True words spoken…  If I had to pick the one thing I enjoyed and loved in my life other than Dolly my wife who passed on after thirty-one years of glorious faithful  loving, kind companionship, it had to be aviation.  I never went to formal ground schools, I taught myself, soloed and certificated in the minimum times allowed by law and bought my first plane before I even had my student permit, and earned my ratings in the General Aviation field and as a number two in the Corporate World, also known as the right seat dummy while learning.  Unfortunately the money involved and age were against me, I started later than most and had to play catchup. 

I did purchase several airplanes, learned a lot about maintenance, as it is essential for both confidence and safety through training, and I have factored several beliefs about aviation ownership. 

1)  As an owner you will spend six to eight hours on the ground maintaining the aircraft for each hour in the air.  The more you maintain, the more you understand the aircraft and being aware is the greater part of staying alive.

2)  Aviation is hours of resplendent joy and satisfaction at what you accomplished till that nasty fellow Sir Murphy-Law joins you on your ride.  Hours of joy shattered by minutes of terror… Over the course of twenty-eight years, I have a good safety record, no kills, no injuries, and more important survived several incidents.  Followed the training and it worked.

EXCEPTIONS:   Notably two fires on board caused by an incompetent corrupt mechanic, who subbed used hose and parts during an inspection, (which is illegal)  which failed a second time, and a faulty Marvel Schebler carburetor.  A lost nose gear due to an incompetent partner who lost a part, after a reassembly he promulgated on said nose gear locking pin dropped on the ground.  

The shinning night was blind assisted by a GCA type approach into Jacksonville Naval Air Station due to a lack of instrumentation and what the meteorologist termed a “ Unexpected Temperature inversion “  inspired by another genius mechanic who never secured or properly locked down a buss bar ground.  And it came loose in flight.  I had nothing but a handheld radio, a compass and basic no electrical air instruments ( I took pride in backups and being prepared) basic flight instruments, and four on board with no visibility from 7000 feet down.  

The NAVY treated us well.  “ God Bless those controllers that night”.  I tackled the repair the next morning, we were socked in, weird weather those two days, no warnings.   Assisted by a Naval tech with socket wrench, screw driver and about five minutes,  I was airworthy.  And after a few incidents I never let anyone touch my planes unless I watched for the next two and a half decades.

THE CHEATER:   There were thrills but I never lost control and no one ( called passengers and friends) even knew what was going on…  except for the cheating mechanic whom I chased around the airport after the test flight and we found fake parts he used and charged us for new on the insurance invoice and the shrouded ( hidden) used split gas line caused the fire and failed.  When I got back to the airport with the tow-bar in hand wanting to do him some physical harm… that was stopped ( fortunately) by the police who stopped me.   The FAA was brought in, fires are mandatory inspection, and with the evidence and reports and logs, they inspected his operation, found other problems like a stolen aircraft and closed his shop and him down permanently.

I had learned early never to trust too many people when it came to maintenance, or repair, I had to be there…

3)  When I hear a boat owner tell me “ A boat is a hole in the ocean you pour money into”.  I laugh and explain to him, you should own a plane, the sky is a lot bigger than the ocean and the hole is bigger too.

4)  There is no such thing as overtraining, more is better, you tune yourself just as you tune the engine and you have to stay tuned and up to date.

5)  It was an important part of our lives… that training and retraining kept me from being a statistic. Even sounds and other senses tell you a lot. You become more aware…I call it “ Situation six”…always check your six even in a car.



BY THE THUNDERBIRDS, (I waited all day)


It is not photoshopped….un-lucky or lucky shot!




06-07-2019 aljacobsladder.com