Friday, August 14, 2009
At that moment my phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Can somebody pray with me?” I said that I would be happy to and asked the young female caller what her prayer request was. She said, “My dad’s in the hospital and he has a brain tumor.” I asked what type of tumor it was and she said, “It’s a glioblastoma multiforme.” I thought my heart was going to burst at that moment!
The caller, we’ll call her Jasmine, asked if I knew what that was. I told her a very dear friend of mine’s father had the same kind of tumor. The tears welled up in my eyes and my heart was full of sorrow and joy because I realized that the Lord had answered my prayer. Jasmine said her father had been diagnosed with the tumor in January and had been given 6 months to live. He was two months past his prognosis.
I asked Jasmine if her father was a Christian. She said he was Catholic and that he had confessed to priest but she wasn’t sure of his salvation. Then she asked, “Is my daddy going to get better?” The tears started coming out then and I was wiping them away. I’m sure she could hear my sniffles. “I don’t know, Jasmine; but God can heal, I know He can.”
Then I prayed one of the most earnest prayers I have ever prayed in my entire life. I knew what this teenage girl was going through. I had witnessed it first hand for almost a year. I know that God sent me that call, even though our computer system routes the calls, there have been a few times when that caller on the other end needed to specifically talk to me because God knew that I could help them and that I understood their situation intimately.
Honestly, I believe that call was for me more than it was for Jasmine. I wasn’t able to minister to the person I wanted to, but He allowed me to use my experience of going through that situation and season of life to minister to a little girl who was also losing her daddy. All I can say is what an awesome God we serve! Pray for Jasmine and her father if you think about it.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Church was great on Sunday! I got to see my little friend Henry who likes to sit with me so he doesn’t aggravate his sister, Jeana. I like to go early and help set up for church. I can’t wait to get to church on Sundays! Sunday evening I visited my parents and my dad and I went for one of our infamous Jeep rides. My dad bought a beat-up Wrangler in the spring and we have had a lot of fun with it. It makes for some good male bonding time with my dad. We watched a movie called Taking Chance about a deceased soldier’s journey from Iraq back home to Montana to be buried. It is very touching. I spent the night in my old bedroom. That is always fun. Tons of memories in that room!
Monday morning I drove back to Charlotte with my parents following me. My roommate situation has not been working out that well, so I decided to get an apartment of my own. I am looking forward to this, even though I am a people person it will be good to have a space completely my own. Plus my roommates were letting their girlfriends spend the night in the house, and I was not at all cool with that. So, I confronted them about that twice and they wouldn’t stop so I started looking for an apartment. The Lord provided me with one yesterday at a nice complex, about eight minutes from work, a first floor and near the entrance to the complex. I am excited about it! My move date is Sept. 7. My brother lived in that same complex for four years before he bought his house. It’s a nice place to live from what I remember and the rent is very reasonable. I am so thankful the Lord has provided this place for me. I will end up saving a lot of gas and it’s a great location!
After I signed the papers on my apartment I went to visit my friend, Hank McGrew, who was my Sunday School teacher when I was 12. Hank was a Marine Corps fighter pilot during World War II. He became a Christian in his late 50s and I met him when he was 72. He had just lost his wife to cancer and found our little church on Main Street and stopped by in 1992. Our church gave him something to look forward to and somewhere to call home and put his energy into. He also had an airstrip on his farm and had built his own house which was much the style of a Frank Lloyd Wright house. His natural handwriting was self-styled calligraphy. He has the most beautiful handwriting of any man I have ever seen! He flew his own plane out of his airstrip for years and years until he wrecked it while landing one day, a few years before I met him. He related to the kids at the church very well. He was a rough and tough Marine but he was very soft when it came to spiritual things. He still has spiritual insight and still loves the Lord. It’s neat to see that his spiritual man has not diminished.
He remarried a rather famous lady in the area and moved away when I was 17 or so. His wife passed away from Alzheimer’s disease last year. By then it was evident that Hank had Alzheimer’s as well. I have visited him and several times over the last 3 or 4 years. I used to be able to take him out to breakfast, but unfortunately I can’t do that any longer. (I actually met Hank’s grandson, Aaron, who is Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet pilot, while I was in Oshkosh . It was just a ‘random’ meeting, but I got to take a photo with him and that was really cool. Hank’s son Darren was my pastor for seven years as well.)
When I arrived at Darren’s house Hank and his daughter-in-law, Willie (Yes, her name is Willie, she’s Dutch) were sitting down to eat. Ms. Willie was nice enough to prepare a plate for me as well. Hank was really excited to see me. I was overjoyed he recognized me! We ate dinner and talked about a lot of different things. I always try to test his memory and see what he remembers. He asked me how my parents are, which is does every time. He has always loved my parents and so he reminds me that I “come from good stock.” “They’re wonderful people,” he’ll say.
Other than eating, one thing Hank likes to do is paint. I had not seen this until yesterday, but he paints beautifully! Even with the disease as advanced as it is, he still uses beautiful color combinations. He loves to draw airplanes. His earlier paintings are much more detailed, but his latest are more scattered, but still amazingly beautiful for a man almost 90 years old and ravaged by a neurological disease. One painting showed a very colorful heavy bomber dropping an unseemly amount of bombs on a target. It was rather humorous. (I’ve attached a couple of photos of his artwork.) When I was getting ready to leave I told Hank I was going and he said, “We’ll see ya later, Nathan!" Thanks for coming by.” That shocked me to death because he hasn’t remembered my name in two years! That was a real blessing.
Saturday I received a call from my friend Shannon telling me that Olinda's father, Bud, had passed. I didn't really know what to say, I just listened and took in all the information. I was sad, sad that he was gone, sad that I wasn't there, sad that things went wrong between us, but knowing that it was the right thing to do. I assumed that my presence would not be a welcome site at the viewing or funeral, so I decided not to go. I struggled with the question of, should I even send a card. I wanted to certainly awklowdge her father's passing, but did not want to make it awkward for anyone, so I picked out a card. It's a very nice, simple and artistic card. I had been doing ok with it all until this morning on the way to work, when I just started sobbing.
I can't imagine what she feels like. I can't imagine what it is like to lose your father when he is just 58 years old. I have been praying for her almost non-stop since Saturday. It seems very surreal that I was there when she found out that her dad had cancer, which I talked about in an earlier post, and now I am persona non grata. I think I would feel better if were a stranger than I do right now. I know in time all this will pass. The weird part is that my life goes on without interruption, but for her, there is finality, the loss of parent, the end of a relationship with her father, a lifetime of memories, healing to begin, etc. I pray that this will be the case for Miss O.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Three weeks later I was winging my way to Oshkosh via United Airlines and an Airbus A-319. We landed at O’Hare. I had about 20 minutes to get from my arrival gate to my departure gate on the other side of the airport, probably about a mile away. It seemed like it, or longer! The flight to Appleton was onboard a Canadair Regional Jet which I have come to really enjoy. They’re like a stretch LearJet. (They’re made by the same company, Bombardier.)
They flew us right over the top of Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport, where the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Annual convention is. To the locals it’s known as ‘EAA’, but to all of us foreigners, it’s known as ‘Oshkosh’. Flying into Appleton was an experience. It felt like we were crankin’ and bankin’ most of the approach and then the speed brakes came out and we seemed to dive bomb to the runway.
It was kind of an uneasy approach for the passengers I thought. But I’m sure the pilot enjoyed it. Someone made the comment that the pilot was probably an F/A-18 jock that had just come back from Iraq.
My old friend Walt Fitzgerald picked me up in Appleton. (United left my luggage in Chicago and ended up delivering it to me about 8 hours later.) Walt then took me out to lunch at a café near the Oshkosh airport. It was fun catching up with him. We then drove over to the MASA tent.
Now I have to tell you about MASA, or Missionary Aviation Support Association which started when my friends Bob and Louise Griffin started attending in 1982. Lee and Debbie Smoll and Randy and Marlene McMillan met Bob and Louise and started hosting them in their homes and started inviting other missionaries to attend Oshkosh as well. many years later, and many volunteers later, MASA has turned into a well-oiled machine.
For three of the last five years it has been my privilege to attend Oshkosh with the support and hospitality of the MASA folks. I have been involved in missionary aviation for 12 years. Mostly through the JAARS organization and working with their Missions At The Airport program for 8 years, then working on special projects for the aviation department. Going to Oshkosh has allowed me to make many contacts that I would probably never get the chance to make otherwise.
(Lee and Debbie Smoll, myself, and Bernie and Doug Campbell pictured) Lee Smoll has been running the show for MASA for many years. How many I’m not sure, but what he says goes. He has a strong, commanding, yet compassionate and gentle presence. His heart is on the field with the guys day-in and day-out, but he was never able to become a missionary pilot himself. His son Ken even served overseas as a missionary pilot and now works with Spokane Turbine Center.
Anita Holdridge is MASA’s travel agent extraordinaire! She coordinates housing for all the missionaries that come through during Oshkosh. This year MASA supported more than 350+ individuals, the most they had every hosted. It was a feat beyond compare for the small, grass-roots, organization.
Bernie Campbell is the "grill sergeant", or so her apron said this year. She coordinates all the meals for the missionaries and guests. Churches around the greater Oshkosh area provide meals for the missionaries. The menu varies from classic Wisconsin bratwurst and sauerkraut to fried red fish and slaw. It’s always a feast! There is never a lack of liquids to drink; from sweet tea to lemonade. There’s always at least fives choices.
There are so many other names I could mention, like Terry (pictured) and Debbie Montombo, who come from Michigan every year, simply to volunteer and serve missionaries who are supported by MASA during the week. Children of the MASA leaders even help during the week to serve drinks, make trash runs, check in luggage, anything and everything.
The meals are really where most of the fellowship happens. Between all the missionary aviators, and mechanics (We dare not forget about the folks who keep the planes in the air), there’s at least 1,000 years of missionary service represented; from old-timers, to young bucks not even on the mission field yet.
There are representatives from MAF, JAARS, United Indian Mission, HeliMission, AIM-Air, just the name a few. Stories, struggles and prayers are exchanged across the table, from one missionary to the other, regardless of the organization, country of operation, etc. They’re all working together to spread the Gospel and to help people’s physical and spiritual needs. On the field you’ll find JAARS pilots flying SAM-Air Cessna 206s and other mission pilots fly other mission’s aircraft. It’s all about helping to accomplish the Great Commission.
The first person I ran into at the MASA tent was Bernie. She didn’t know I was coming and gave me a big hug. It was so good to see her. Her kids have gotten really big! Her son Jed is at least a food taller since the last time I saw him. He’s turned into quite a young man, as has Ben, another son of Doug and Bernie. I also looked up Anita who gave me my packet and helped me settle in. Then it was through the gates at Oshkosh.
I checked out the JAARS both and also wandered down to the Fly4Life section. Humanitarian aid was one of the themes at Oshkosh EAA-AirVenture this year. Actually it was originally Walt’s idea. So there were more than 300 people involved this year, not just with missionary aviation but, AngelFlight and other similar organizations.
JAARS had gotten ‘Ol’ No. 1’ back to Oshkosh this year. It was great to see my old aluminum friend there. Roger and I had taken it to Oshkosh five years before for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Helio Courier. I wondered if it would ever see another Oshkosh after that trip.
Steve Saint had flown 56 Henry to Oshkosh again. MAF also had their Kodiak there. So there were three historic airplanes in one place. That was really cool to see. I don’t recall much about the first evening, just seeing a lot of my old friends from the past two Oshkosh’s I’d attended.
(Pictured, Darryl Neidlinger) Roger, Darryl Neidlinger, and I drove to our host family’s house. It turns out it was the most popular mortician in the area. I wondered how this was going to be. It if was going to be, pardon the expression, quiet as a funeral home, in this guy’s house. But Todd and Tammy were two of the most fun people I’d ever met. I got to ask them all kinds of questions about the funeral business I’d ever wanted to know.
Chuck had told me that they originally thought I was a New Tribes Helio pilot from Texas. Can you imagine how disappointed they were when they found out I just worked for a well-known Christian ministry in Charlotte?
Thursday morning greeted us with overcast skies and misty rain. I spent most of the day with Chuck and Chris Daly visiting the EAA museum. I hadn’t really been in it much to check out the display aircraft, so it was nice to be able to do that.
(Chuck and Chris Daly pictured) I had spoken in the Vette Theater in 2004 regarding the history of the Helio and then in 2006 I had been in the museum to hear Mike Melville talk about his record-breaking ride in Space Ship One. There are a lot of neat and historic airplanes in the museum. The great aviation author, Ernest Gann’s ‘chicken coop’, where he hammered out all his writing is also housed in the museum.
I had a good conversation with Chris in the museum and caught up about some of the happenings their lives. That was a lot of fun. I’m thankful for Godly examples of Christian wives and mothers like Chris in my life. Chris and I visited the Flying Magazine tent while Chuck talked to some of the guys from Dornier about a pusher/puller amphibian airplane while might go into service in a Pacific Island group. We watched some of the airshow from the HondaJet Pavilion and drooled over one of the photographer’s huge telephoto lens.
We also visited author’s corner where I got to see my friend Ruth Scheltema, whom I hadn’t seen for 10 years since I spend a week with her and her late husband, Hank, down at their home in Griffin, GA. (I’ll relate that experience some other time and how the Lord used it to give direction.) It was really good to see Ruth. She hadn’t changed a bit. She was kind and gracious as always!
That night we spent time with our host couple. They had a baby grand piano in their living room, which was a lot of fun to play. They gave me a lot of requests and luckily I was able to play most of them. It was a very nice instrument and sounded remarkably good for a piano that hadn’t been tuned for some time.
Their house had been a model home and so it had some very interesting architecture. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos. The whole neighborhood was full of homes like Todd and Tammy’s. Later that night we visited Wal-Mart and ran into this very quirky guy who is actually a nuclear engine at the Catawba Nuclear Station close to where I live. He was also a graduate of Bob Jones. Being a BJU grad and a nuclear engineer made for an interesting combination.
The next day I decided to go all-out and wear my flightsuit. The weather at Oshkosh was as nice as I’ve ever seen! Absolutely marvelous! Most days it was between 75-78 degrees. I decided to look for the Helios that were down in the vintage aircraft parking. I found Darryl Neidlinger and Jim Metzler down by Millie and 60 Juliet Alpha. Darryl and I ran into a gentleman who had been a Helio mechanic in Thailand working for the US Gov’t.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Well, since my last entry, my life has changed very much. It feels very much like a fresh start. Almost 7 weeks ago Olinda and I ended our relationship, mutually I believe. It was both a hard and easy decision to make. There has been much grief as you can imagine. After spending so much life with someone at such a critical time in their life and having so many memories with her.
A year later, Mr. Nash is still living and I only am getting updates here and there how he is doing. I have been praying for him a lot, for Olinda and her whole family. I hope that she will always be my friend, even though I may not be in contact with her. The 15 months I spent in a relationship with her I will never forget. I have grown up a lot and matured, but I also realize that there is still much work to be done in my life. I know God is helping me with that because I am committed to that, now more than ever before in my life.
Most recently He has impressed on me how important it is to be a leader and example to people, not just in a relationship with a woman, but in life in general. I never felt like I could be that leader or attain that ability until now. Scripture says that ‘all things are possible’, reminding me that I should not limit God. While this time of growth has been very hard and still continues, it has been very much needed. I can see God’s hand all over it. That is really great to see and know that He working in my life in such a profound way.
The day after Olinda and I ended the relationship I moved out of my brother’s house and in with a friend. This was planned, but came at a very unique time for me. Two weeks later my brother got married. The wedding was nice, very simple. I wore a tuxedo for the first time. I was very nervous about walking up the steps of the stage at the church, so I convinced them we should enter the back way. That meant my only big task was to descend the stairs without tripping. Kelli, Lindsay’s sister-in-law was a big help with that. I think I was hanging onto her, instead of her hanging on to me. Before walking out on stage Ryan asked the question, “Do you ever wonder how many people got drunk and threw up all over these tuxedos?” All of us cracked up! It was a much needed laugh to get rid of nerves. I didn’t cry or fall during the ceremony. I was happy about that. Every time there was a prayer I would wiggled around a bit and flexed my feet so that I wouldn’t be too stiff. I had the unique job of being the MC for the reception. That was quite fun.
The reception line was very long and many people left before the cake was cut and the bride and groom had their first dance. At the end when Andrew and Lindsay drove away in a BMW Z3 Roadster the people that were there, which was a small group, were the people who had been in Andrew’s life the longest: the Faulkners, Solomons, Mangans and that was pretty much it from the groom’s side. I thought it was very interesting. My Uncle Ronnie and cousin Harold drove from Alabama to be at the wedding, which I thought was very special. I was surprised and very grateful to see that they had come.
The night before the wedding we had the bachelor party which consisted of David Kneen, Derek Terry, Ryan Eppenberger, Bill Butler, Jarrell, Reed and Logan Waggoner, myself and maybe one of two others, or maybe not. Originally we were going to go see the new Star Trek movie that was out, but decided not to and just to have a ‘quiet’ evening playing games. Andrew and the Waggoners played Settler’s of Catan while David, Ryan, Bill, Derek and I played Spades. I had only played Spades a few times but found that I was actually good at the game and enjoyed it very much.
As you can tell, many things have happened, good, sad, painful and uncomfortable, but in all I have a very tangible sense that God is working and making me into the man He wants me to be. In the end, that is the most important part. I end this entry with the following verses that was pointed out to me by a pastor friend a few weeks ago:
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16&17 ~
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I met Olinda in the fall of 2007 through my friends Mark and Wendy Blanco who have a “game night” almost every Friday, where a bunch of people get together, play board games, Rock Band, video games and anything else that tickles your fancy. The first time I saw her I thought she was incredibly cute. She told me later it made her very nervous. Then I saw her again probably in January of 2008, again at the Blancos. I didn’t know how to get in touch with her, so I searched Facebook for a while until I found her as a mutual friend of my friend Jill. So I added her as a friend and thus ensued a series of emails via Facebook over the next several weeks.
In March I was scheduled to give my testimony at the ministry where I work. On the Monday before I was supposed to speak I began to have a scratchy throat. By the morning I was supposed to speak my voice was partially gone and I was sweating profusely. I thought I was just nervous, but as it turns out I was suffering from a bad case of the flu. While in suffering bed I decided to ask Olinda out. So I asked her if she wanted to go to a NarroWay play. Our first date was on March 28th and we attended Not Just Another Love Story. It was a good play but I was a distracted by the beautiful blond sitting next to me. We got to know each other over the next few months.
Olinda was scheduled to go on vacation the last part of June. I had written her a letter for every day she would be gone. On the eve of her vacation I went over to have dinner with her. We were waiting for her brother to show up. He kept texting Olinda telling her he would be late. He finally called her. She walked into another room and shut the door. Five minutes later she came shrieking out of the room. Her mom and I could barely understand what she was saying. We finally gathered that her dad had been rushed to the hospital after being found, passed out on the floor of his garage.
Her next words were totally unexpected, “He has a brain tumor.” I didn’t know how much those five words would affect my and her life, over the next months. Olinda’s dad, Mr. Bud was transferred from Rock Hill to Charlotte a few days later. It was completely providential that I had prepared the letters for her to open on each day of her vacation. I had not met her dad before his tumor was discovered so I spent some time in the hospital outside the room hanging out. It was difficult period of time for Olinda. I never envisioned that turn of events for us in our relationship. It’s something no couple expects, especially when they’ve only been seeing each other for three months.
Much of the summer was spent with Mr. Bud out on Lake Wylie on his pontoon boat. It was a very memorable summer even if it was overshadowed by such a difficult time for Olinda and her family.
I went flying only a few times last year, mostly with my friend Ken in his Kitfox. (In January of this year I finally got to fly with Pastor Daren. Our friend Ted had bought a Diamond Star DA-40 about a year ago and we finally found time to go for a $100 hamburger.(
I had a good birthday. Olinda gave me an MP3 player which was very kind of her. I had wanted one for a long time but never felt I should buy one because there was always more pressing needs.
Speaking of more pressing needs, early in the year I started having problems with my Chevy Blazer. It took a period of 3 or 4 months. We changed the fuel pump and several other things but it just seemed to be falling apart. I decided it was time to get a more reliable vehicle. I looked at several vehicles after settling on a Toyota Camry or Corolla. I ended up buying a 2007 Toyota Corolla LE in June. I still had my Blazer but had had it for sale for some months. As it ended up, I sold it to a friend Les Kanna who wanted a Blazer.
The Saturday I was delivering the truck, I was within a mile or so of Les’ house as I was crossing a blind intersection and the Blazer stalled in the intersection. I turned it off, then turned it on again, getting increasingly worried that a car was going to come roaring around the corner and into me. The hazard lights on the truck were not functioning. It seemed like an eternity, but it probably lasted only 15 seconds. I said aloud, “God help me,” and turned the key. The engine came to life and sputtered out of the intersection, only to die about a hundred more feet down the road.
We called Les, after trying to get the truck to crank again. He came and towed the truck back to his garage. I ended up selling it to his friend for a $1,000, not running. It seems the fuel pump had broken again. Les cleaned it up and it looks far better than it did when I owned it; like a brand new truck almost.
I love my “little red chariot”. I have had no problems with it and it gets about 40 mph as opposed to the 15 or 17 I was getting with the Blazer, on a good day at that. Last July I look it to Charleston and also to Atlanta in October to visit Darryl and Babs for my annual trip to visit them.
Darryl was diagnosed with lymphoma in July. His doctor said it was the worst case he’d ever seen. Darryl said he was totally convinced that he was going to die. After radiation and chemo for a few months Darryl’s doctor told him that his cancer was 99% eradicated and that the doctor didn’t think it would come back again. Isn’t that how the Lord works? I’m so glad my friend was given more time to spend with his family and grandchildren. He has been like a great uncle to me. I am so thankful him and Babs.
My grandmother, Carolyn, went to the nursing home in the fall. Her health had been declining for some time and my mother had been taking care of her. Due to a series of falls the family thought it best to keep her in a care facility. She seems happy but her mental capacity is diminishing. I am an hour away so it is difficult for me to visit her. It’s hard because every time I see her I see how much she has declined. I am thankful she remembers me. Her house was sold last summer. The last time I visited the house everything was in its place, just as she had left it. I’m glad that’s the last memory I have. It would have broken my heart to see her belongings going home with other people who had no idea of the significance it had to me as a grandchild.
To quote Will Ferrell playing the great Harry Carey, “It was a pretty good year. A lot of things happened, some good, bad.”
Saturday, January 12, 2008
We then flew to , and had lunch at the little airport café that is there. I dropped my camera out of the airplane as we got out and it broke, although I was able to take pictures with it for a short time after that. Amazingly enough! The next day we headed a few miles down the road to Woodruff’s Triple Tree Aerodrome to where the Joe Nall RC fly-in was being held. I acted as spotter for Roger as he made flybys with the official Joe Nall banner. They actually posed photos of Roger and I on the fly-in website. (They also had a fall full-scale airplane fly-in in Sept.)
When we were packing up the airplane to leave Roger asked if I wanted to fly and I asked how could I if the yoke was out of the right side and he took his hand out from behind his back that he was holding the yoke with. I was so impressed with him that he took the time to put the yoke back into the airplane just so I could fly the plane home. That’s what I call a true friend! It was a truly gentlemanly gesture! I always feel a sadness when we shut down the airplane coming back from an airshow. The excitement is over and we must return to our boring, earth-bound existence.
airshow with Roger and Terry Heffield.
There was an airshow in town but she decided she wanted to go to Stone Mountain instead, which I was fine with. We didn’t get to go to the museum or up the mountain. The parking lots had already filled so we visited the ferry dock. As soon I stepped out of the car I felt like I had been transported back to the 1960s and to an episode of Five-O. There was a carillon playing in the distance. I had never seen one before so I decided to investigate. We drove over and parked next to the walkway for the carillon then walked to the carillon tower itself. I told Rachel I bet there was a little old lady sitting inside a room somewhere playing the carillon. As we walked back up the path I notice an small amphitheater which a small octagon shaped glass enclosure at the center. I WAS RIGHT!!! There was a little old lady sitting inside the octagon glass building playing the carillon console. I had a good laugh about this. There was a gentleman sitting there who’s name I found out was cliff. It seems he had been a fan of the carillonist for years. I asked if the lady took requests and that I wondered if she could play Ena Gada De Vida. (A tribute to the Simpsons’ episode where Bart switches out the sheet music on the organist with the song. The organist falls over dead when she completes the piece.)
Rachel ended up eating dinner with Darryl and Babs and I that evening. Darryl was watching the vs. game. Georgia eventually won in the last seconds of the game. The Neidlingers had recently started going to a church plant of Northpoint Community Church in where Andy Stanley is the pastor. A couple of years ago the church decided to build a sister church called Brown’s Bridge Community Church . They have a magnificent campus which I believe they said cost 17 million dollars to build was already paid for after being built just 2 years ago. Amazing! I was totally amazed by all the programs they had for children and adults at the church. I had the chance to hear Andy speak again. He has a very interesting delivery when he speaks. My parents found it irritating when they tried to listen to an MP3 of one of his messages. Oh well, to each his own I guess.
In the afternoon Darryl and I drove out to Lenora airstrip outside of Snellville to take Millie the ex-Peruian JAARS Helio for a flight. The weather the second weekend in October is usually exceptional, as it was that weekend. Almost no clouds in the sky and the visibility was great! Darryl flew out to an airport northwest of where there was cheap gas. He asked if I wanted to make the takeoff when we had fueled up and were ready to fly again. I said sure. When we got out on the runway, he made the takoff and climbed like a homesick angel. I got a big kick out of it! Then he said, “I forgot, you were supposed to make that takeoff!” So we found an airport that wasn’t too busy and Darryl said, “We’re at 4,000 feet, get us down.” So I initiated a 50 degree descending turn to the right, did a 360 then did another to the left. We entered the pattern and he said, “Go ahead and set up and make the landing.” I asked if he were serious. “Yes, you make the landing and I’ll make sure you don’t mess up,” he said. So I asked if we wanted a wheel landing or a 3-point and he said to make a wheel landing. I made a quick review of the procedure, approach in a level attitude, let the mains touch and then let the tail drop when the speed decreased. So I touched down, bounced just a tiny bit and then the gear settled and spread, almost no sweat.
“Taxi off and take off again,” Darryl said, so I did. I lined up, made sure the flaps were at 20 and not 30, then pushed the throttle all the way in, the initial acceleration was terrific, as it always is in a Helio, but this time I had the controls. I let the plane accelerate pushed the nose over a little to get the tailwheel up and then slowly pulled back after the aircraft came off the runway. I did my best to keep the wings level, and then reduced power to 3,000 RPMs. I was grinning from ear to ear! We flew over to Stone Mountain and I got some great shots of the mountain and surrounding park. It’s a very picturesque place. We landed at Lenora airstrip a few minutes later. It was so nice to fly in Millie again. Darryl does such a great job of keeping her pristine. I always feel privileged to fly a Helio.
Monday, June 4, 2007
In 1999 I took a English class at USC- Lancaster. One of the only Christian organizations on campus was the Baptist Student Union, which I was familiar with because I attended some meetings when I was 14 and 15 while my brother, Andrew, was a student there. So when we had the first organizational meeting came Wade ten Bensel, a girl named Julie, and I decided we would add a little festivities to the meetings and bring our instruments. Both Wade and Julie played guitar and I was just in the infancy of playing the harmonica. I could play decently though. Julie was very quiet but was awesome on the guitar. She always was very nice and encouraged me in my struggling efforts to keep up with her and Wade.
One day we had a visitor who brought a keyboard and so I asked if I could play their keyboard. They said yes and then I started bringing my church’s keyboard to the meetings. I don’t remember a lot of details from that time, but I do remember Julie, her quietness and kindness most of all. She was in love with the Dixie Chicks. It seemed like she was always wearing a shirt that had something about the Dixie Chicks on it. The thing I remember most about her is that she wanted to be a country music star. I thought that was a rather lofty goad, but then again, I was a guy with cerebral palsy who wanted to be a pilot. After the semester I lost track of Julie and her email address didn’t work anymore.
The next thing I knew Julie had a CD coming out. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. “She made it,” I thought in disbelief! I borrowed the CD from my friend Carol. Carol actually had a hard time believing that I had gone to school with Julie. The funny thing is that the Julie that I knew hadn’t been famous, only dreamed of it. Last year there was a concert held at USC-Lancaster with Julie and several other country music singers. I wanted to go and almost got free tickets but it fell through.
I don’t recall how but I found out that Julie was performing at Visualite Theater in
After the show I met some of Julie’s friends and relatives as well as her mom who was running around selling merchandise and claiming that if people didn’t buy something the bus wouldn’t have any gas in it. So I decided to buy a picture for $5 and have Julie sign it.
So I went to the back of the autograph line which was only about 10-deep and waited. After 7-10 minutes I was my turn, I walked up to Julie and said, “Do you remember me? We played music at USC-L.” She said, “Yes!” And gave me a big hug. It was neat. I asked her if she remembered my name and she said, “No.” I said that’s ok, I remember yours. She asked me how I had been and I told her that I worked for Billy Graham and she said she had seen him on TV the other day at the library opening. She thanked me several times for coming.
I had tried to conserve my camera batteries because my new camera doesn’t seem to be as long lasting on alkaline batteries as my old camera. Right when I got up to Julie I gave my camera to her stage manager and he said, “It says ‘Low Batteries’.” I just about died! I asked the guy if I could change the batteries and retake the photo and he said, “Uhhh ok.” I made a dash to the bar, pulled new batteries out of my pocket, flipped the battery door on the camera open and dumped the old ones out and then opened the new batteries, installed and shut the door in about a minute and with time to spare for the next person in line. So after he left the stage manager took my camera again and got a great shot of us which I am very proud of.
Seeing her again was quite surreal. After 8 years so much had changed and I didn’t remember a lot about playing with her in the “BSU band.” When I talked to her though a lot of the memories came back. It was like talking to an old friend who was also a stranger. It’s definitely an evening I’ll remember for quite some time and I have my signed picture up in my office.
I visited Suzy Eich the other week and she asked me if I needed any shoes. I asked what kind and she said that she still had some of Allan’s shoes to get rid of. Amazingly, I wear the same size as he did, 10 ½. So Suzy gave me two pair of Rockports that Allan wore while he was on trips with the airline. So I can say that I have actually walked in Allan’s shoes. It’s kind of weird having his shoes. I don’t really hold any sentimental value with them and it would be a shame not to use them, so it is still somewhat unusual.
Friday I had lunch with Chuck Daly at Bridge and Rail and just caught up on life. He is traveling to Dunellen to visit with Steve Saint and also to Wycliffe headquarters in
After lunch I drove over to Les Kanna’s for a few hours and we just talked while he worked on a project. We talked about Allan some and Les asked if I wanted to go over and look at what was left of the Phantom so we walked across the field to the shed opened it up. The aircraft itself has been dismantled and the only real recognizable part of the airplane was the seat and the nosewheel assembly and rudder pedals. Although the tail section was not damaged at all that I could see. The wire from the powerline that put the plane down was still fused to the nosewheel strut about 4 inches above the tire. I was fascinated by it, really. Aviation accidents are intriguing to me, especially this one because it took the life of my good friend. It didn’t affect me like I thought it might I just kept having the thought of, “I wonder what it looked after it went down.” I have seen some of the pictures from the Sherriff’s Dept. investigation but didn’t really remember them clearly when I was looking at what was left of the Phantom.
Les told me he was going to Pageland for a fly-in BBQ and so I asked him if I could go and help balance out the weight in the airplane and he said that he would be glad for me to go. So I headed down on Saturday morning. The weather was high overcast so that was nice not to have the sun beating us to death under the Plexiglas window. It only took 7 minutes to fly to Pageland. One thing I will say about flying with Les is that it is always an adventure flying with him in the pattern. He usually makes all his turns in the Grumman at about 45-60 degrees, so it’s hang on and have fun! About 15 aircraft flew in for the BBQ. There was a very nice Beech 18 there that had been nicely restored and an assortment of Pipers and Cessnas.
The food was awesome! There’s nothing like a country BBQ! They were pulling the meat right off the spine! It was awesome! Baked means, slaw and rolls, were the sides as well as a hug table of desserts. The German-chocolate cake was the only thing I could really stuff into me because the pieces were so huge! Les and I stayed around for about an hour and a half, watching the sky for the rain we knew we would be coming. And sure enough it showed up. We made our way, rather briskly to the airplane, climbed in, started up and taxied, ran up and took off. When we got above the tree line I could see that we had chosen exactly the right time to leave as the rain was not more than 2 miles to our south and coming our way. We heard pilots reporting “Solid wall of rain out here!” I had purchased a new camera the day before and I got a cool video of us landing at Les’ airstrip, the Unity Aerodrome. He’s a very good pilot, I’d never believe he was in his 70s if I didn’t already know it.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Somebody actually reads this stuff. I can’t believe it. A lot has gone on in my life lately. I finished my public speaking course with a B in the class. I am pretty happy about that, but should have worked harder.
Last night I hosted the Carolinas Aviation TV as the fill-in host. That was fun. I interviewed Bob Griffin, my good friend, from JAARS and Tom Denny the Air Traffic Manager at
My second guest was Tom Denny who is the Air Traffic Manager at
Well I’ve got a big weekend. I am driving to
Sunday I am helping Kristy Davis Teacher her Sunday School class. She has most of the young kids in the church in her class. She wants me to tie in airplanes into it somehow, so I think I’m going to talk about how God uses airplanes.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Yesterday, I got up rather early and headed down to the
Allan was my friend who died in an airplane crash 18 months ago and Jerry was killed while riding his motorcycle home from working on his RV-8 airplane. He almost had the airplane ready to test-fly, but because of different issues he never got to. While he was riding home, on a beautiful day, a lady in an SUV pulled out in front of him and there was nothing he could do.
Originally back in January we had planned to meet Allan’s best friend at the
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Last weekend was interesting. On Friday I went to a St. Patrick’s Day Eve party hosted by David and Lydia Poole in
Saturday I was supposed to visit my friend Jennifer in
Sunday I worked all day, talked to
I was really impressed with Mamma Mia. Of course there were some themes and lines that I would have taken out of the show, but I’m a super “prude” when it comes to stuff like that. My favorite part of the show when the chorus line guys came out in scuba masks, wetsuits and flippers and danced. That was awesome! If you can handle the fact that the play itself was pretty much Godless and put down matrimony then I think you’d like the show. Honestly I wasn’t surprised. I can’t expect people who don’t have a relationship with Christ to have the same convictions. I am glad I went to see it.
Lastly, Hailey, thank you for a no stress evening. It wouldn’t have been much fun without you.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
So I packed up my stuff and took it home again, still feeling a little remorseful but also like I had a second chance to succeed at learning a new instrument. So I figured out how to read tableture and went over to my friend Matthew's house to just kind of hang out and have him show me some stuff.
He showed me something that I had been doing very wrong. The chord book that I have is written for people who are playing a right-handed guitar and I am playing a left handed guitar. So I have to take the chord book and use it as a mirror imagine in order to figure out the right position for the chords. It also takes a lot of pressure to hold down the individual strings in order to have the corrct tone of the chords. This helps very much as you can imagine.
We'll see what happens, but I'm going to keep on trying to learn. Wish me luck!