THANKS, MARTHA

Flying - - INBOX -

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

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