It all started in 1941 when I was a young boy of 5 years of age. The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and there was a lot of excitement at the resort that my father had started. Dad was 42 and wanted to go back in the army. (He was wounded in WW1) I heard a lot of talk at home where we lived in the tavern living quarters. My mother sure didn't want dad to leave us and go back in the army as there were six of us. My older brother Ned who was 13 years older than me joined up right away but they wouldn't take dad because of the big family. Mom was glad that he didn't go. I grew up in that tavern. Ned was my hero and when he came home in his AAF for the first time he looked great in his uniform.
He joined up to be a pilot but found out he was color blind so that ended his dream of being a pilot. He was sent to India and was a crew chief on C46s that were flying "the Hump" to take supplies to China. He came home for his first leave two weeks before the war ended.
All this time I would think about airplanes and it helped that Ned sent money home to buy Christmas gifts for the rest of the family. I got a wooden model of a B17. The next year I got a real pilots helmet. Man I was in heaven. The war ended and I still loved airplanes.
In 1947 I saw a red and black small aircraft land in the field across the highway from the resort where I lived. I don't know who the pilot was but he made my day. Soon the city of Phillips bought the property and made it an airport. My dad was a big promoter of the airport because it brought in business to the resort. I spent as much time as I could as a airport kid and got to fuel and get free rides from some of the WW2 pilots who had a flying club there. I washed a lot of windshields during those years. I also met a kid who was my age by the name of Jack Baster and we went to high school together. We were in the Civil Air Patrol. He graduated with me and left for the Air Force the next day. He was killed in an auto accident in 1959. I still miss him. I was in the National Guard for three years. I managed to solo a J-3 when I was 14 years old but that kinda ended my flying when I found out about girls. Working to support a large family put a real big kink in my flying career.
When my kids were out of school I thought I would try to fly again. My sons told me about powered parachutes so I thought I would try that. I talked to Jack Lasee in Abbotsford and he helped me get started. I had taken flying lessons in 1982 and it wasn't very hard to transition to PPCs.
Now comes the P51 part... My buddy Walt and I go to fly-ins and we decided to go to Merrill Wis. to a fly-in last fall just to see airplanes. We looked at all the aircraft and old steam and gas engines. I saw one of those flight simulators (kinda like those Link trainers from WW2). Now this thing is computer controlled and you can get in it and (Fly) different aircraft from a Cub to a F18. P51 was on the list. I told my friend Walt he didn't have a hair on his behind if he didn't go with me in this thing. So we get in and told the operator we wanted to fly in a P51. Now there is no stick in this thing and all you can do is hang on. I was a little suspicious when the guy strapped us in with shoulder harnesses. They closed the door and the video screen lit up and off we go--- just like the real thing- almost. They told us about a panic button you could hit and stop this thing. Well there we were, everyway but level. And it was fast too. I lasted as long as I could and hit the button and the thing stopped. We crawled out of this machine from hell. I was really ready to sit down and rest. Walt told me "didn't you see the sign that said people with heart trouble should not go in this thing?" I said no. I recovered after a half hour and we went home.
We were both 74 and 3 weeks later I had my 8th stent put in my heart.
call sign "old guy"