Honey, I've Got to Have One of those Things!
All my life I have wanted to fly. I can't remember a time when I wasn't looking up wondering what it would be like
to soar as a bird. When I was 10 years old, I remember my brother Greg brought home one of those Popular Mechanic's
books. Greg is the smarter one in our family and at age 13 he was into everything, especially science and mechanics.
On the cover was pictured a gyrocopter - a strange looking contraption, that you could build. Well, my brother
never sent off for the plans, but it began my journey into model airplanes (not helicopters), and attempting to
make an airplane myself. That never worked out, but pretending went along way. My first pretend airplane was made
out of two by fours, plywood, a piano box that held parts (the cockpit), and a lawn sprinkler for the propeller.
Bicycle peddles worked well for my rudder and a broom stick (sawed off) for the joy stick. And what joy I had as
I flew my pretend airplane in wars, doing rolls, loops and dives and, of course, shooting down the enemy. Yeah,
I was shot down too. I would make this loud explosion noise, dump the piano box over, jump out and start throwing
the parts of the plane everywhere. It ended with me laying on the ground in the greatest death scene that even
Hollywood could not produce. Yeah… those were the days.
Well, flying drifted away as women, school and work took hold. But then one day, yeah what a day it was, I saw
an ULTRALIGHT. Now my dream could come true, some 24 years later, in 1985. My wife and I were driving down Katy
Freeway, (Interstate 10 west toward Katy Tx), and there it was. The most magnificent flying machine I had ever
seen: an ultralight. I struggled to hold our car on the road as I looked up, and my wife knew something was about
to change. "Honey lets go look at those!" I really had never spoken about flying to her, but in seeing
me light up like a Christmas tree, she knew trouble was on the horizon. What can I say, every fiber, every cell,
every thought, was now focused on what I had seen. I had to touch it!
We took the first exit and headed back east to where the action was. There along I 10 was a place called "Light
Flight." In pulling in, I remember the adrenaline rush I felt. Two of these strange looking planes called
ultralights were tied down and the fellow in the air was doing fly bys. Wow! It was like pulling into heaven. I
jumped out of the car and walked over to the first one, or did I run? I had to touch it! I remember placing my
fingers on the wing wires and wondered how it stayed together in flight. That thought passed as love had taken
hold, "I must go up in one of these." Looking up I saw the fellow overhead coming in for a landing.
Well, they saw a sucker coming that day. You know how us aviators can tell when we see that love bug in the eyes
of a future aviator. "How much will you charge me to take me up?," I asked. $25, the fellow said. I remember
looking at my wife and she just shook her head. Fate was sealed that day and my wife knew I now had another lover
in my life. "Go ahead," she said. Boy, I love her for that! The Utralight Pilot, (yea, the fellow who
had been flying), briefed me on the danger, that I would be flying at my own risk. It kind of got my attention
when I saw that big sticker on the side of the fuel tank. He convinced me, though, it was safe and we strapped
"You'll have to put these in, (earplugs) and wear this helmet." There was no intercom or any of that
fancy stuff we have in our ultralights now. Just the good old Hall Speed Indicator. Wow, I remember how she just
jumped off the ground when he pulled the stick back. We quickly ascended to some undetermined amount of feet (no
altimeter), and the fun began. The pilot screamed, "would you like to fly her?" Did I just hear what
I thought I heard? Nah.... Then he yelled it again. This time in reading his lips (you couldn't hear anything),
I motioned my head yes as my heart leaped into my throat. My feet were already on the rudders peddles and they
moved when his feet moved. I was studying this intently as he was flying. The pilot put my hand on the joy stick
and let loose. Wow, I am flying!! He then showed me how to gently descend and turn left and right.
I could never describe what I felt as I sat next to him. It was like I knew this fellow all my life and he was
allowing me to experience what I had always dreamed of: FLIGHT! Fear, excitement, total concentration all were
a part of this first flying experience. This 30 minute flight felt like 5 minutes as he took the controls and prepared
for a landing. I remember the ground quickly coming up and wondering how he was going to get this thing on the
ground. I could see the blades of grass as he gently began to flare her and touchdown! After we came to a full
stop, I had to have help getting the seat belt off. I shook like a leaf. I had never felt such excitement and joy
at the same time.
As I approached my wife, she knew the man that stepped out of that airplane was now different. I had changed. Yes,
a new reason for living had birthed and a childhood dream had come true. As we left, I could not stop talking about
the experience. It would begin a new era in my life… and her's. "Honey, I've got to have one of those things!"
David M. Bucklew, Jan 29, 2003