Usually the skies between Flagstaff and Palm Springs are brutally blue. But this would be no normal journey. En route to AOPA Summit, Jean and I launched our Flying Carpet over a dense silvery blanket of prescribed-forest-fire smoke.
When rare swirling clouds cloaked the primeval and sunbaked Mojave Desert it seemed we were treading not mere miles, but the surreal mists of time. And in a sense we were. For at Summit I met someone connected to my hazy beginnings as a pilot.
Wandering the exhibits, I discovered Morey’s West Coast Adventures. Longtime instructor and pilot examiner Field Morey is legendary for his cross-country instrument-training courses. Field is now based in Medford, Oregon.
But when I was a young University of Wisconsin student he operated family-owned Morey Field, just across Lake Mendota from Madison’s Truax Field where I learned to fly. Introducing myself, I explained how as a newly minted pilot, I’d often flown over Morey Field. We reminisced about examiner Claude Frickelton, who delivered my private pilot check ride.
“Greg, were you at Madison in 1970 when UW’s Sterling Hall Army Math Center was bombed?” asked Field. Forgotten memories of that turbulent era flooded back.
“I arrived a year later Field, but well remember seeing blue sky through windows of the bombed-out building when walking to class. And the bombing’s ringleader, Karleton Armstrong, still dominated both the local news and anti-war T-shirts.”
“Then I have a story you’ll appreciate…” said Field…
Read Greg’s entire March Flying Carpet column, “Flying the Mists of Time.”
Top photo: Rare clouds cloak California’s Mojave Desert. Upper right: Sterling Hall after the August, 1970 bombing (Wikipedia). See more photos here.
PS: I’ve been reading a fascinating book about the UW bombing and surrounding events. “Rads,” by Tom Bates, is out of print, but available used. Highly recommended.
©2013 Gregory N.Brown
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!