I remember the moment Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. It was exactly 48 years before I wrote these words. Glued to a TV in 1969, I felt proud to be an American. What an amazing feat I thought. The science, engineering, teamwork, training and planning made it successful even when most challenged. After sixteen years of building and refining my Seawind amphibian and working with very bright people, I too can say I made a moon shot and a safe landing – or two.
When I admire my Super Seawind sleeping beauty I recall that it was first my vision and now my creation. I had built the first ever PT6 powered Seawind and I flew N71RJ all the way up to 19,000’ at breathtaking speeds. That’s something! I recently finished the annual inspection IAW a strict maintenance schedule I authored in 2013. I feel accomplished because N71RJ is safer and better equipped than ever. Like an old friend, it’s waiting for me on the tarmac. All it needs is a qualified pilot plus a little wanderlust.
Flying to me is a way to explore and photograph this beautiful planet. So as you might imagine I have HD cameras mounted on my ship so that I can share my adventures with others. These adventures have taken me twice to Airventure, 2014 and 2016. Best, they’ve opened a door to a friendship with Herbert (Jay) Drury, CFII. Jay has spent countless hours repairing and improving 1RJ. My life would be very different without his friendship and guidance. Jay loves 1RJ and I love learning flight and maintenance from him. To me, flying and friendship go together.
Where do we fly? In the past most of the flights we did were around New England. In the future, they’ll be more long trips like to National Parks and to Oregon and back to visit grandsons. With a bicycle and a two person kayak in the 6’ cargo bay, I’ll have many more opportunities to explore on land and water.
What advice can I offer you? First, plan at least two days prior to your flight. Preflight the airplane and pack it with charts and anything else you’ll need for your trip. Plan for a worst-case scenario. That takes a load off and it makes the day of flight so much easier. Second, embrace technology! Today with an IPAD you can plan and even file your entire flight in a fraction of the time it takes pushing a pencil on paper. Onboard with WingX, Garmin Pilot and others, the IPAD provides routing, weather, airport information and frequencies. It’s amazing. Be sure to use external power on long trips to keep the screen lit. Third and last: Fly with a friend and a camera and you’ll always have a story in your pocket to share.