formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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September 14, 2010 The Moth

The Liberty Gazette
September 14, 2010

Linda: A world traveling pilot friend came upon a copy of Sheila Scott’s autobiography, “I Must Fly” while somewhere in Europe and sent it to me. I found I had many things in common with the late British aviatrix, like her competitive spirit, love of all things aviation, and appreciating friendly people. Shelia Scott broke over 100 aviation records from 1965-1971, including three around-the-world flights in a Piper Comanche. Building up to that skill and stamina, Sheila began flying in a de Havilland Gipsy Moth, a fabric covered bi-wing airplane used as military trainers in the 1930’s. She also flew a similar model, the Tiger Moth.

Being the cool chick pilot she was, she nicknamed her first airplane “Myth” because it means a female moth. Over the years Sheila dubbed her planes “Myth,” “Myth Too,” “Sun Myth Pip,” or “Mythre.” The word, “Myth” was always written somewhere on any plane she flew, even if only in lipstick, and even if it wasn’t a Moth. She had some close calls, and sometimes was surprised her airplane was still flying. Her good fortune she attributed to the name, “Myth.” Okay, so that part isn’t much like me, but I love her competitive spirit. Funny thing about the Moth though is that last year another good friend, Katie, gave me the autobiography of Bette Bach Fineman. Bette is a long-time friend of Katie and her family and Katie had her sign the book to me at last year’s annual Antique Aircraft Association fly-in in Blakesburg, Iowa. Bette’s name “Bach” comes from her long time marriage to writer Richard Bach. She’s no stranger to aviation. Bette wrote about flying a Gipsy Moth. She loved that airplane, and the way she wrote made me wish I had one, or at least the chance to fly one. That desire grew after reading Sheila Scott’s book.
(Tiger Moth photo courtesy Brian Lockett,
When Katie’s step-mom, Sharon, told me last year that if I’d come to Blakesburg in 2010 I might have a good chance of seeing, and maybe even getting a ride in a Gipsy Moth or Tiger Moth, we reserved that date on our calendar right away.

The months rolled by and soon it was September again, time for the Antique Aircraft fly-in. I had “Myth” on my mind.

About a week before the fly-in the timing on another commitment changed, making Mike unable to go to Blakesburg. Disappointed, I headed to the office on the Friday morning that we would have been flying to Blakesburg, stopping for gas at John Hebert’s gas station there in front of Thrif-Tee Foods. On the middle pump I saw a huge orange-ish butterfly with some interesting markings. It didn’t seem to be bothered by my pumping gas, and didn’t move even when I took its picture. I called Mike, suggesting if he needed gas that he go to the middle pump and check out the butterfly with a 10-inch wingspan.

Shortly thereafter, Mike called, saying, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but that’s not a butterfly.” It sure looked like a butterfly to me, I thought.

“It’s not?”
“No,” he replied. “That’s a Tiger Moth.”

I made all sorts of noise at that point. God really has a sense of humor. How often does one see a Tiger Moth around here? I had never seen one before that.

A friend suggested, “Blakesburg came to you!”

I pleaded, “But that’s not the kind of Tiger Moth I meant!”

That act wins “Irony of the Year.”

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