I’ll blame it all on my neighbor the dentist. If only he had just driven past our driveway on his way to the airport that snowy Sunday morning some 60 years ago I might not have been placed under this decades long spell. I might never have smelled the heady aroma of 80 octane exhaust on the crisp morning air. I might not still have dreams about seeing where our tracks ended in the snow covered field at the exact moment that flying took place. I might not relish the view from “way up there” at 1000 feet. I might not have marveled at the magic of propellers and the sound of Continentals and Lycomings as they sped frail crafts through the air. The scent of a cockpit tainted with leather and oil and sweat might never have been as irresistible to me as that of a freshly baked loaf of mom’s homemade bread. And, let’s face it, life would have been pretty boring.
He did stop however, and offered me my first ride in an aeroplane. It was a 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12-D and I remember it like it was yesterday. After all this time, through all these years, all the aircraft I have flown since that day have taken me back to where it all began. Taildraggers, doped fabric, sandy loam soil, patchy sod, fog over the river, and dew soaked shoes; all the finest that aviation has to offer and it was given to me in a heartbeat on a January morning so very long ago with that simple life changing question; “ . . . think your folks will let you take an airplane ride with me?”
I have gown older since then but I cannot attest to having grown up. I am still hopelessly addicted to the sight, sounds and smells of airplanes in all forms, the magic they offer, and nearly anything at all to do with them. Fixing them, building them, or playing with them; the hours spent at the “skunkworks” are never really wasted. There is always something to do, something to work on; someone to lie to. Real aviation junkies are like that.
And so I offer a glimpse of a day in the life; my life. Hangars, dogs, flying buddies, projects, airplanes and of course those anticipated words, “Wanna take a ride in the airplane with me?” Of course I do, silly. What else would I want to do?
All the best,
Author: Tom Speerstra
Tom Speerstra has had an enduring love affair with aviation for over 40 years. Countless adventures have been enjoyed flying students, people, paper, and parcels in everything from Champs to Citations. He has held positions as both Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Part 135 carriers and holds an ATP, MEII, SES ratings and a Citation type rating. Tom makes his home in Michigan with his wife Elizabeth and the two dogs Hess and Pappy.