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A different view

Sometimes I worry just a tad about my mental capacity. Some things are so obvious, but it may take me years to even see them. It’s a mite disturbing and I hope that I’m not a wee bit “challenged” if you catch my drift. This writing business has caused me to look at things more closely than I ever have. I recently came to understand that I’ve suffered for years from tunnel vision, focused straight ahead.

Case in point: Until very recently, I had not considered how me as a teenaged girl, flying an airplane 38 years my senior, may have seemed to others. Oh I was aware of the sensation the Student Prince invariably caused, and that there was added interest due to my being a young girl pilot. I would bask in the limelight of the Prince; posing for pictures, answering questions, being interviewed by reporters at local fly ins, and taking people for rides. I enjoyed the attention, but I never took it seriously. I attributed it to the airplane. It was fun to show off no doubt, and I had lots of fun being the person affiliated with such an interest provoking machine.

I was given pause for a brief moment a few years back while rooting through a box full of photos. I found a picture of a young me in the rear cockpit of the biplane while ahead of me, a paying passenger smiling blithely beneath their helmet. My God! I was shocked at how young I appeared. The date on the back confirmed that I was just twenty and hopping rides at a local Puget Sound airport. My astonished reaction wasn’t because of my youth per se, it was the passenger who seemed so relaxed, happy and confident despite their baby pilot. And for crying out loud, where did I get the confidence myself? It was a strange moment, and for a few seconds I did wonder what on earth I must have seemed like to others. Touching down at their airport, hanging a sign and commencing the fine art of barnstorming. A very young. Girl. It would have caused my eyebrows to arch if I were them. Apparently, arched eyebrows or not, I recall flying solid weekends of rides at that very airport until dusk each day.

I had forgotten that moment of considering other’s perspectives of my young pilot self until a recent conversation with my mother. We were talking about stories for the book, and she told me, “Yeah Summer, I remember when you were a teenager and you’d come home with your face all wind burned, your hair stringy and knotted. I’d ask where you’d been, you would say you had just flown to the San Juans or Bellingham, or Portland.” I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t believe I had never, ever wondered how it must have been to have a teen daughter who was a pilot that owned and flew an antique biplane. How interesting…..and then I realized that it must have been an equally notable experience for others who knew me. My classmates, my boyfriend, my bosses, my mechanic, my community and my passengers. I am considering adding some of their perspectives to my story. Or at least having some interesting conversations with them.

I comfort myself that perhaps I am not a dull crayon after all. Maybe I was just too busy having fun to consider the view of others.

My mother also told me that she once posed the question of my selling the Student Prince and buying a more practical airplane. She says I responded with, “No way! Out of the question, that airplane is irreplaceable to me. Besides,” I told her, “you have no idea how cool it is to be a girl with a biplane.”


10 responses »

  1. “you have no idea how cool it is to be a girl with a biplane.”


  2. You needed to be focused, learning to fly. That’s what made you the pilot and adventurer you are today. Have the conversations with others. You’ll find out more about yourself through their reactions to that crazy young girl pilot. Some of those old dudes at the airport who pitched in to help with your lessons feel like they are grandpas to you and live vicariously through your exploits. They’d be interesting to talk to about “back then.” Off to spread Christmas cheer among the relatives and then have dinner with Matt & Sean Monday night. I once had an Army surplus jeep with a Mustang engine in it that wowed all the boys, but it wasn’t half as cool as a biplane!

    • Cynthia Florsheim

      You were a teen with a biplane. Your friends must have been so envious. Ten years ago I had an usual experience. My brother treated me to a introductory flight lesson at Palwaukee Airport. I didn’t ask the pilots name, qualification or even the type of plane. I just jumped right in.
      When I bought my first computer it took two months for me to decide which one I wanted. I checked Consumer Reports, different stores, articles in the paper and my relatives and friends. I was ahead of the pack. My friends didn’t have a computer so I finally gave in a bought the first one I had seen.
      Of course, no one I knew flew a plane and my friends thought I was crazy. I knew what was right for me.
      Today, I am the only Senior Citizen that is in love with airplanes.especially Vintage planes. Why? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. It’s my passion!

      A Plane Nut,
      Cindy Florsheim

  3. so, where’s the photo…?
    enjoying your writing very much…!

  4. Summer, I don’t recall once ever even considering your age. The only time you seemed a teener was when you and your Dad came to our fly-in at Tacoma Industrial. The rest of the time we(Maralyn & I) just accepted your skill as a pilot. Maybe a certain amount of admiration too. Then when you got a job flying commercially we just accepte that as a natural follow-on. Keep up the good work.

  5. Add it too the book Summer, Reading your blog, it is amazing to me the memories that come back to me of many years past. I can relate to so many of your feelings. Well except the young girl part. LOL. I would fly our Stearman to lots of small air shows and fly ins and give rides when I was only 18 and 19 yrs old. Many looked at me like are you sure you know what you are doing. I think like you said I was too busy having fun to realize that it was cool. I knew i was very lucky to be able to do these things, but somehow still took it for granted. Blame it on youth I guess. I remember late seventys I was maybe 20, landing at OshKosh for EAA and climbing out of the back seat of the Stearman feeling pretty cool. And A P-51 comes in behind us and the pilot climbs out, had to be maybe 18, So much for feeling cool.
    I gotta get that Stearman going. Love your blog.

  6. My friend some of the best days of my life were chasing down head gaskets, machinists and propping the Prince…

    Pure and simple joy of flight-it doesn’t get any better than that!

  7. None of us is a dull crayon, but some are more colorful…and have more fun, too!

    • Cynthia Florsheim

      I really enjoyed your post. “Nobody is a dull crayon.” I have always been different but I know now that it’s a positive not a negative. Summer has a way with words and virtually takes me on her trips. I am not a pilot but I have a passion for aviation.

  8. Summer,

    Best of Luck on your journey. Not sure if this is the same plane I grew up with or not. My stepfather at the time restored it with his parents. If so, your dad purchased it from Bill and Shirley Dessert. I had the wonderful joy of many inverted moments over the years. If it is the same plane, I am glad to see someone really enjoying it, and its history. Pretty sure this is it, as there are only about 3 still flying these days.


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