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Article: For The Love Of Aviators

airplane exhibits

For The Love Of Aviators

Many years ago, my father took me to the Monroe County Michigan fair when I was a young man.

As a curious young lad, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living, but who does in their early teen years?

As we wandered about the fairgrounds, I spotted a rotating red beacon, thinking it must be a police car or fire truck. We decided to explore and find out what it was.

Much to my surprise and amazement, it was an airplane sitting on a circular platform rotating around with its red tail beacon on!

I stood there, unable to move, watching this airplane go round and round. 

Pretty soon, this kind fella asked me if I would like to sit in the airplane.

Without any hesitation, I leaped at the chance, and in a few moments, I was sitting in the pilot's seat, having all of the instruments explained to me!

1957 Beechcraft V-Tail Bonanza aircraft like the one I first saw back in 1957

This is what the aircraft I saw looked like.

Immediately I knew of at least one thing I wanted to do!

My New Heros

After that experience, I began trying to find anything I could about flying airplanes.

We finally had a tv, black and white, and I quickly learned about Sky King and his "Songbird".

This was a tv show about an Arizona rancher and aircraft pilot by the name of Schuyler "Sky" King. 

Using his airplane, Sky King would find lost hikers and capture criminals and spies.

 A new magazine featuring Sky King and his Cessna T-50 Bobcat airplane from the 1940s and 1950s

 And so, my love of aviation grew.

When I was 14, my mother passed away, leaving six kids behind for my father to care for. I understood what this meant for me, I would be expected to help the younger ones, and once I finished high school to head out into my new life.

Of course, we were poor, so I was off to my new life when I graduated from high school.

You probably guessed it; I headed right for the U.S. Air Force and my new life.

Becoming A Pilot

Of course, I wanted to become a pilot in the Air Force, but that was not to be, not without a college degree.

So, in its wisdom, the Air Force sent me to Syracuse University to learn Russian.

Ah, there was a silver lining in all of this!

After Syracuse, I went to an Air Force base in San Angelo, Texas. There was a flying club there, so I took my first lesson, and it was in an old Air Force T-34!

Bummer, the club folded right after that first flight, but I was hooked and went out to the local airport and started taking lessons. By the time I finished my training and was shipped off to my first assignment (on a little island called Shemya at the end of the Aleutian chain), I had my private pilot license.

In the military, we have our own stores called the PX, and one day before I left San Angelo, I discovered some cool sunglasses.

They were American Optical Original Pilot Sunglasses, precisely the same as those issued to Air Force pilots! Of course, I had to have a pair!

As I recall, the first pair of AO sunglasses I purchased cost me around $ 20.00, and I enjoyed them for many years.

Once I left the Air Force and moved on with my life I really didn't think a lot about sunglasses.

But my love of aviation and flying airplanes has never left me.

A Blast From The Past

The date as I am writing this post is August 12, 2022, and this afternoon I received a call from a young man I gave flying lessons to back in the 1960s!

He became a commercial airline pilot and retired some six years ago, but somehow decided to find me and we had a wonderful conversation.

You see, there is nothing like the aviation community and those of us who have participated in it. The love of flying never leaves you, you never stop looking up at the sound of an aircraft overhead, and you never forget all those fellow aviators you met throughout the years.

And somehow, years later, I find myself once again thinking about and selling aviator sunglasses, some of which are still those same old American Optical Original Pilot sunglasses.

In the meantime, keep your eyes safe and focused on what's ahead of you Hersch!

ps: I have been out of commission for the last couple of weeks, but my blog posts will return to my regular schedule.








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