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[whitespace] Larry Robbins
Wing Ding: Pilot Larry Robbins gets ready to soar.

Get High

Learn to fly and never wait for United again

By John Yewell

REMEMBER THE MOMENT as though it were yesterday. It was a warm, still Saturday afternoon--earthquake weather--and I was raking leaves in my next-door neighbor's yard in Ventura. I was 16, but the idea had been sleeping in my head for a few years: to learn to fly. My father had done it during World War II, and I had always admired those wings on his uniform as he went off to his Air Force Reserve meetings.

As I raked, I was momentarily distracted by something overhead. The plane--it was a Cessna, I think--was so high I couldn't hear the engine, and to this day I don't know what made me look up. I dropped my rake, went next door and told my mother I wanted to learn to fly. It was an epiphanic moment.

I have no idea where that impulse came from--I had seen hundreds of planes like that before. But my mother betrayed no suspicion of what must surely have sounded like youthful whim. She just said OK, and I went back to my yard work. I was lucky to have supportive parents. After I finished an hour or so later I went home, and my mother had already called the airport. "You have your first lesson next Saturday," she told me. I was stunned. There was no backing out now.

A week later, after that little plane left the ground for the first time with me in it, backing out was the furthest thing from my mind. Nine-and-a-half flight hours later, when my instructor nonchalantly stepped out of the plane and told me to "take it around" for the first time on my own, my pulse jumped to about 160. But I did it: I took off, found pattern altitude, made my turns, then descended on a perfect glide path to a silky-smooth landing. I was still alive and the plane was on the runway, but my feet didn't touch ground for days.

I had soloed. I was a pilot.

You can be too. Call one of the following flying clubs at Watsonville airport, and learn what it feels like to soar with the birds.

All located at or near the Watsonville Airport:

Bi-plane for Hire 888.705.1747
No club or flying school, but a great ride.

Santa Cruz Flying 728.5354

Santa Cruz Flying Club 722.4580

Strawberry Aviation 722.1126
Oriented toward foreign students.

2 Genes Aviation 763.0290

United Flight Services 722.4155

Acme Aviation 768.8378
Specializes in taildraggers.

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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