LAURAN PAINE JR.
The Aviation Mindset
A pilot’s life
OKAY, I’M AN ADMITTED “AIRPLANE GOOF.” Have been my whole life.
Sometimes—in quiet moments—I find myself wondering why that
is. The short and easy answer is, I like it. Just do. Period. But it goes
deeper than that.
As a kid on the ranch I was attracted to the romance of aviation
whenever I saw an airplane fly over—usually, in those days, either
a DC- 3 or a Cub. It was magic and machine displayed on a blue
background. I’d wonder, “Where are they going? What are they
thinking? What are they doing? How fun!” And then the inevita-
ble, “I wanna do that!”
Growing up on the ranch I was always around animals and
machinery. Engine sounds have always been music to my ears.
And working on machinery has always been “music” for my
hands. You didn’t “hire stuff out” in those days. You fixed it
Lauran, at about 10 years old, plays with a toy helicopter. “I flew that thing all over the house,” Lauran said.
“What can I say? I’ve had the disease a long time.”
yourself, or a neighbor helped you. Stores
were for parts, not repairs. I always figured
that helped me in aviation: I loved the
grease and oil and noise of it, too!
And I had a good family. I learned hard
work at an early age. It was not something
to be shunned; it was honorable. I never
knew or thought about it much, but my
parents were not “into” flying. But they
never discouraged me, either. I got 50
cents a week for chopping weeds along
irrigation ditches. Every couple of months
or so I was able to buy an airplane model.
Man, you should have seen that Guillows
F- 86 I built! I painted it all silver. I’m
tellin’ you, that thing was neater’n a hot
dog on a stick! I had a big brother that
pounded me when I needed poundin’, and
a river nearby for when fish needed to be
caught. It was a good base from which to
pursue the aviation dream.
Okay, that was the romance of it. But
how to do it? Could I do it? One thing I
learned on the ranch, mostly by osmosis,
was perseverance, and that has been a
modus operandi for most of my life. (Served
me really well in airplane homebuilding, for
sure!) I plowed through high school and
went to college, paid for by working summers hauling hay, driving tractors, and
changing irrigation pipes for $1.25 an hour.
I borrowed $1, 100 from my folks during
four years of college. My senior year of college, the Air Force ROTC paid for 35 hours
of flight time at the local airport. It was a
program to measure your attitude and
66 Sport Aviation February 2012