August 21, 2007
August 21, 2007
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Here’s an excerpt from a longer article we wrote for AOPA’s “A Day in the Life of America’s Airports”.
Local pilot Carl Holzschuh returns to the airport from a photo run in his Mooney 201. “Ever since I was a kid,” he says, “I’ve wanted to fly.” He’s been flying about 25 years now. With 1000 hours in the log book, Holzschuh’s flying is a hobby. He works as an electrician on numerical control lathes for Sim-Tex, an oil well pipe and tube company.
“An old crop duster pilot taught me to fly,” he says of John Sharp, a former DEA pilot who flew in Central and South America. A good mentor made all the difference to Carl, encouraging his love for flying. “He was the best pilot I’ve ever seen and a great instructor.”
Carl’s wife, Karon, enjoys flying with her husband when the weather’s good. “Not everyone does it,” Carl says of flying. “Just knowing that, hey, I can do that, it’s not something the general public does. That’s what I like. I like the freedom, it’s relaxing and when I’m up there, there’s nothing on my mind but flying that airplane.”
Steve Johnson would agree. The former military helicopter pilot cleans the bugs off his RV-6. He returned yesterday from a business trip to Fort Worth and is about to take pilot-hopeful, Joe Vandergraph, up for a local flight. Like most pilots Steve enjoys sharing his passion for flying. Joe is a skydiver with 46 jumps to his credit, but wants to be a corporate pilot some day. And Steve Johnson is a good person to introduce Joe to flying. Steve earned his private pilot license before joining the Army in 1966 where he trained in the OH58 Kiowa helicopter, and flew the UH-1 Huey, and CH47 Chinnook in Viet Nam. By the time he left the Army he had commercial helicopter and fixed wing licenses and an instrument rating.
Johnson, now a successful business man, has owned several airplanes. He even talked his non pilot brother-in-law into partnering with him in his first airplane purchase, a Tri-Pacer. Flying together over the next three years, Steve’s passion was instilled in his brother-in-law, who earned his pilot license and went on to fly for the State of North Carolina.
“Our little airports contribute significantly to the economic well being, a fact that is often missed by local government leaders,” says Johnson. “I’d like to see more small towns use their airports to take full advantage of the economic potential they offer.”
Linda: The potential benefit to Liberty is great, well beyond the airport gate. Even non-flyers benefit from economic activity derived from an airport in jobs, education, health and safety, and increased spending in the area.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com