Photo courtesty of Don Santore
At this point of my life, I’m a 65 year old man who’s had a lifelong love affair with airplanes. “I was born loving them” is what I would answer when asked how far back do airplanes and I go. I have distinct memories of my mom and me at different stages of my life regarding aviation.
The first was when I was about 12 years old and I had to go to the hospital and have an operation. She loved me dearly and my dad did as well, but we all know how mothers are.
Anyway, I remember her walking into my hospital room and carrying a U-control Dauntless Dive bomber. It had a “gas engine and everything!" She just bent over my bed and placed it on top of me. It was olive drab and actually had a model of a bomb attached to it that you could drop while flying the aircraft. I had that plane for years. I don’t think I ever flew it, but I’d start the engine and just play with it. I didn’t want to wreck it or damage it in any way.
Then there was I time when I wanted to join Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I was around 13 at the time, and she filled out the papers for me to take to the people in charge and I became a CAP cadet. I was now living on another planet; I loved being a cadet. We would march every week at the “middle school” gymnasium and everyone spoke military style. I was incredibly happy being a part of it and marching and dreaming.
And then one day, I was asked if I’d like to go for an AIRPLANE RIDE! Now, I was turning INTO an airplane, I was so excited about taking my first flight. I’d be just flying around the house with my arms up from my side like wings and I’d be banking around the rooms in the house as I was making engine noises with my mouth. I had it down pat too.
To think I was going to be in a real airplane, and then the phone rang. It was one of the officers from CAP calling, and he said…”Mrs. Santore, I’m afraid he’s too young and we can’t allow him to fly.” I remember the call and I remember her on the phone in the kitchen. She pleaded with the young man to change his mind. She said “Isn’t there something you can do”? My son’s been so excited for these past 2 weeks; he’ll be heartbroken if you don’t let him fly." Well, the man listened to my mom and he said “alright then”, and I was allowed to go. I remember jumping up and down like a rocket held down by rubber bands; I was so happy. She made it happen, and I did fly in CAP for my first time in a Stinson Voyager.