As a schoolteacher-turned-aviator-turnedinstructor-turned-airline-guy, I have enjoyed reading many of your columns over the years, but for personal reasons, none more than Martha Lunken’s. Weaned on Fate Is
the Hunter and Stick and Rudder, I grew up with Peter Garrison’s Melmoth exploits and Gordon Baxter’s fly-in exploits and Richard Collins’ instrument-flying exploits and Len Morgan’s airline exploits — and I’ve come to enjoy the younger crop of writers who now grace your pages — but I count myself lucky to have known Martha personally, if briefly.
One gets to an age when one’s heroes become one’s contemporaries; on a breezy October 17 many years back, I flew a rental Beech from now-closed Blue Ash Airport down to “Sunken” Lunken for my CFI check ride (Lunken’s terminal, the building Ernest Gann nearly took out with an ice-laden DC-2; the FSDO, in those days, a brisk walk across the bike trail and Wilmer Avenue).
A veteran teacher by then, I was allowed by Martha to quickly dispense with the classroom portion (I think it was turns about a point and maybe the traffic pattern she asked me to teach). We went flying. A brisk send-off from Lunken’s tower, a dash out from under CVG’s Class B, a pit stop at Sporty’s for Hal Shevers’ famous hot dogs (who says a $100 hamburger has to cost $100?!) and a brief perusal of the showroom, then into the air for some competitive lazy eights and chandelles and some fun in the traffic pattern — I don’t really remember the rest of the ride, but I remember as if it were yesterday Martha’s delightful manner and the urgency with which she shared with me her joy in flying, and reminded me anew how important it is to inspire. Proudly certificated, I regret that I didn’t keep up with Martha as I went to work instructing for more than a thousand hours, graduated to flying turboprops and jets at Comair, and on to a major airline. Imagine my surprise and joy when she joined the regular rotation of talented Flying writers. I enjoy her columns and her recollections of places (and sometimes people) I also sometimes know through flying. We are a small and tightknit community, and just as Bax kept us together by reminding us every month how welcoming we can and should be, Martha likewise reminds us that it is the people we fly with and meet through flying, as much as the machines we command, that make our niche extraordinary. Thank you, Martha. Your presence in my logbook is a point of pride and joy. Steve Friebert via email