In the early 50's my father graded an l800 foot landing
strip into one of the ridge-top fields and put up a
windsock. It was a proud moment he had dreamed of for
years. Before long there was a four-place Cessna l70
tied down by the side of the strip. I continued learning to
fly in that plane and soloed on my sixteenth birthday after
one hour of flight time with a licensed instructor. I
bragged about how he laughed and said he was turning
me loose to solo after simply taking a ride with me. Later
that day I took my driving test, a formality that seemed
ludicrous, since I had been driving on and near the farm
since I was seven. A week later I found a Piper
Vagabond in Trade-a-Plane at the nearby Blue Ash
Airport. It cost me 800 dollars, money I had made
working on the farm over the years. My father dropped
me at Blue Ash and I flew out to circle the farmstead,
calling down to my waving brothers, “come out and see
it”, then did a long swoop over the river, ending in a
chandelle, after which I landed and parked next to the
windsock. They came out on their bikes, Kit in the lead,
then Rick and Roddy. My mother drove out with two year
old Tony. I could see pride and a little awe in their faces.
They crowded around the plane and I put Roddy and
Tony in the cockpit and showed them how to move the
joystick and watch the ailerons go up and down. I was
glad I hadn’t bought a car, which some of my classmates
were doing as they turned sixteen, primarily so they’d
have more freedom to pick up girls. I was content to be
the only junior at Walnut Hills High School with his own
airplane and a license to escape the mundane world of
my peers any time I wanted. I was elated by a calm
certainty that I could be strong enough to chart my own
Photo by Frederick Knoop