Photos courtesy of Ron Paliughi
My Mom- Ruth-let me do something I doubt I would have let my young boys do- learn to fly. Through a friend’s father, I joined the Fresno Sky Riders flying club in 1960- attended by a lot of good hard working ordinary folks with little money. I soloed in an Aeronca 7AC, $3.50 an hour wet, and $5.00 for the instructor (a great man Jim Hering- former WWII CPT instructor). Dues were $5.00 a month and the joining fee $25.00. I paid for everything; I could ride my bike to Chandler Field with six quarters in my jeans and fly for half an hour.
My Mom was a worrier, but she let me take flying lessons even though she was deathly afraid for me. She would occasionally secretly park at the runway end and watch the son she raised clatter over her car in a tired old Champ on my unsupervised solos.
My Mom drove me to Castle AFB in 1967 to catch a military hop to Vietnam. She was there when I returned a year later, after having read the city I was in was overrun during the Tet Offensive. Many years later, she was there on my final flight as an Army Aviator on my 60th BD. She watched me clatter near her in an aircraft one more time in 2003, as I hovered in an Army NG helicopter. I opened the door of the Huey one last time and there she was, after being escorted out on the ramp.
My Mom is 89 now and she has Alzheimer’s. I visit her every week; she doesn't remember letting me learn to fly But, I always will.
Thanks Mom, I'll be there for you now.