I'm posting an email that my father sent out earlier today.
On this 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight I remembered my first flight. My Uncle Martin had just returned from WWII and flying in the Pacific. He was on leave and asked me if I wanted to go flying. Yes Sir!. He was already my hero, partly because he was an Army Air Corps pilot, but also because we cast lead bullets together and he would let me cast some.
It was spring in 1946 and the field was a little muddy, much too muddy for most airplanes, but the Cub had big tires and just a steel strap for the tail landing gear. I got in the front and Marty was in the back. The hangar kid spun the wooden prop and the 40 horse Continental sputtered to life. We taxied into the wind and with a roar we went across the grass. The Cub just lifted from all three points at once and Marty dipped the nose to gain speed. We cleared the trees and flew off over the town in big lazy circles. Here, you fly it he shouted. Me? Fly?
I pulled back on the stick and we went up. Forward with the stick and we went down. Oh, it was grand. There was a gust and we tipped to the left and I pulled back to correct. We went into a steep bank and Marty's firm hand moved the stick to the right to correct.
We went back to the airport and did a few touch and goes. Then we came in for a perfect three point landing. As we slowed he lifted the tail and fast taxied up to the hangar. I remember that flight as clearly as if it was yesterday, though it's coming up on 60 years ago. Ten years later I was the hangar kid. I flew to Texas and visited Marty in 1962 as a Navy flight student. We had steaks at Beeville where he was a flight simulator and aerodynamics instructor. Marty flew all his life. When he could no longer pass the flight physical at age 75, he took up skydiving.
He flew the mail down the Appalachians in the 1930s. He instructed cadets in 1940 and 1941. when we finally got into WWII he signed up, transitioned into fighters and went to the Pacific. Later he organized and ran a 24 hour a day supply caravan of C-47s flying from Australia to the Solomon Islands. There were so many C-47s in the air that they used each other to navigate. Marty and I occupied the middle third of this century of flight and it's satisfying to remember it this day.