I had planned on having two airplanes, and in
preparation I had two hangars paid a year in advance.
The STOL 175 Cessna was to be my camping backcountry
airplane, and the Sonex was to be my fun, aerobatic
plane. But always in the back of my mind, the Sonex
was my ace in the hole for the day that would surely
come, losing my medical. I just didn’t think it would
arrive before I was 80.
And to think that prior to retirement, I
just used a plane to get from ranch to
ranch. I valued it about as much as my
pickup truck. Isn’t that terrible?
I can still fly when I want; it just has to be in visual
conditions and in daytime. I can carry only one person,
and time aloft is limited by fuel capacity. Still, it’s flying.
And to think that prior to retirement, I just used a plane
to get from ranch to ranch. I valued it about as much as
my pickup truck. Isn’t that terrible?
During that time I never hung out at an airport (my
plane was on a private strip), I never went to fly-ins, and
I did not talk about airplanes almost nonstop as I do
now. I went to Oshkosh once in 1976 after converting
a Cessna 170B to 180 hp with Horton edge cuffs to
show it off, but not again in the next 30 years. But I
can say this: I was proud of what my plane was capable
of doing and enjoyed the envy that I could see in the
eyes of other pilots. Heck, I loved being the top dog—my
airplane could outperform any four-place airplane out
there doing short takeoffs and landings.
A couple of years ago at a Townsend, Montana,
Mountain Flying Clinic, I made that statement to a
couple of Cessna 180 pilots in jest. After I performed my
best effort taking off over a 50-foot obstacle, one of them
told me, “After you left us, my buddy said, ‘That old fart
doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’ but you just made
a believer out of me.”
Now, Niner Seven Mike is in the hands of a person
who will enjoy the envy of other pilots just as I did. It’s
still right here in northwest Nebraska; I just hope that I
can live without it. But, hey, my Six Niner Kilo will do its
best to take my mind off those thoughts, and I do look
forward to this new experience as a sport pilot.
Karl Storjohann holds a commercial pilot certificate and
has logged more than 6,400 hours. He lives in the pines
south of Chadron, Nebraska.