There’s no question that flying and aviation is in my blood in a way that’s hard to describe to someone that’s not felt the exhilaration of the wheels lifting off the ground and seeing the tree tops disappear beneath you. Where my story is different is that it took me so long to get to that point considering my family background.
You see, my family has been in the aviation industry since 1937. My great-grandfather created a successful aviation buy-sell publication that my family owned for over 80 years. My grandfather learned to fly chasing cattle in the fields of East Texas before flying F6F Hellcats and TBM Avengers for the U.S. Navy in World War II, then in his personal Beechcraft Travel Air for many years afterwards. My uncle has flown for decades in his Cessna 185 and various other taildraggers. No doubt, I come from a flying family.
I was always interested in airplanes because of the family connection and could readily identify every warbird in U.S. history along with most general aviation aircraft. But despite flying hours and hours and hours all over the world in commercial aircraft, often with my nose pressed to the window, I never flew in a general aviation aircraft for some reason. All that changed at EAA Airventure in 2017.
I was working the event for my company and my uncle came by to say he was going to see the Cubcrafters crew at the small grass strip north of Oshkosh; he’s building one and knows them all. I had a rare free night from work events so I decided to meet him out there. After being introduced to Chip Allen from SWT Aviation I was invited to go for a ride in a FX-2, my first ride in a small airplane, right at sunset.
From the moment we took off I knew I was hooked.
We flew low and slow over the lakes and fields of Wisconsin in some of the smoothest air I’ve ever seen for roughly 20 minutes, landing on the grass so smoothly on the 29” tires that you couldn’t even feel it. The next morning, as soon as I got to the airshow grounds, I purchased the ground school study materials and never looked back. Flying had found its way into my blood.