Flying airways through time
Motorcycles, airplanes, and steel guitars were the topics, as we lounged under sparkling skies with Larry and Karen Howard on their vacation-home deck overlooking Lake Thunderhead, Missouri.
What a weather contrast after yesterday’s challenging flight from Arizona! Unable to land at nearby Unionville Airport due to low ceilings, we’d diverted to Centerville, Iowa. (See last month’s column, Three Time Zones.)
Larry and I were University of Illinois architecture classmates after I transferred from Wisconsin junior year. A quiet, low-key farm kid with just a hint of a smile, Larry would have been at home in the movie, Animal House. Many a Saturday night we rocketed down Green Street on our Suzukis — Jean and me on my X-6, and Larry balancing his 350 on one wheel. Larry was such a whiz at “wheelies,” that except when parked, his motorcycle’s front tire rarely touched the ground. Our usual destination was the Rose Bowl Tavern, where even the glare of regulars at longhaired college kids couldn’t dull our appreciation of the house country band.
One spring break, Larry and I teamed up with my roommate to fly from Champaign, Illinois to the Bahamas in the Flying Illini Cessna 172.
Larry’s friend Steve met us in Florida and we “flew the Atlantic” to Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands under my command. It was an epic journey for a 190-hour, non-instrument-rated pilot. (See “Spring Break,” FT May, 2005.)
The following year Larry joined me in the club Cessna 182 to visit Steve in Houston. He and Karen had since moved to Waterloo, Iowa, so he drove to Champaign the night before departure.
This was the 1970s gasoline-shortage era, and late that night Larry phoned from Bloomington, Illinois where he’d run out of gas because no service stations were open. By the time we rendezvoused, siphoned gas from my car into his, and drove back, it was past midnight…
**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, “BARN DANCE.”**
Top photo: “Larry and Karen Howard wave from the ramp, Centerville Municipal Airport, Iowa.”
Middle photo: Larry (with “‘fro”), Steve (far left), with Greg’s roommate, Al, and Greg, Abaco Island, Bahamas, 1976.
Lower photo: “Karen & Larry at Centerville Municipal Airport, Iowa.”
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2015 Gregory N.Brown