The Liberty Gazette
January 2, 2018Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Across the pond, Irishman Brendan O’Brien thrills air show audiences. As a youngster growing up in London, he wanted to fly like the birds. But life changed in his early teens. Despite the hardships that came with losing his parents so young, he became a world record holder of over 200 flying records, earned an unlimited license to fly any aircraft, and proved he wasn’t just another brick in the wall.
Linda: Two things I’ve said ever since learning to fly: One, the best way to get over the fear of flying is to learn to fly; it takes the unknown out of the equation, and we really only fear the unknown. Two, drummers would make good helicopter pilots—all hands and feet have to be moving independently, but in coordination. I stand by both statements, and appreciate the confirmation provided by Mr. and Mrs. Mason and their friend, Mr. Gilmour. I also appreciate the Masons’ support for the idea that a non-pilot spouse should at least learn how to land the family airplane, should the need arise. When we present a “Pinch Hitter” course to non-pilot spouses that is exactly what we teach.
Mr. Mason dreaded flying, but he had to for business. One day he spoke his mind to a colleague who in turn convinced him that learning to fly would cure him of that fear. Mr. Mason considered the advice good, and went with his friend’s recommendation of Brendan O’Brien.
A busy schedule kept Mr. Mason from completing his private pilot training quickly, but in about a year he finally had a license. Then he realized, not being a spring chicken, if he had a sudden health problem while flying, he’d want his wife to be able to land the plane safely and get help. Therefore, a year later, Mrs. Mason earned her license. Both became smitten with aviation and soaked in all they could, including twin-engine ratings. The Mr. and Mrs. enjoyed flying their aeroplanes, but soon discovered there was more to British life than fixed-wing aircraft. There were rotorwings! Money was no object and soon Mr. Mason added a helicopter rating to his license, and Mrs. Mason followed a year later, falling in love with flying their whirlybird.
One of Mr. Mason’s co-workers, Mr. Gilmour, also hated flying, and for the same reason. When Mr. Mason explained how learning to fly changed his life and now he loved it, Mr. Gilmour contacted Brendan O’Brien to see if he could get the same results. He did.
It didn’t take long for the co-workers to invest in an airport and several airplanes together. All of this would not have been possible were it not for Brendan O’Brien, and also for the success of their album, Dark Side of the Moon.
These days, it probably doesn’t matter to Pink Floyd’s founding members, drummer, Nick Mason and lead vocalist/guitarist, David Gilmour, what side of the moon their on, as long as they’re airborne.