If you are like me you have had this flying "Bug" since you were introduced to aviation by someone that cared enough to do so. My "Bug" came from my Dad who was a pilot in the Air Force. He infected all of his kids with the "Bug" with flights in a Helio Courier when we were still in grade school. Most of you know what I mean when I mention THE "Bug". It IS a lifelong affliction. Some of you tried to outgrow it but you can't. Remember as a kid, you hear a noise in the sky and all the other kids ask what you are looking at as you not only tell them what kind of plane just flew over but you go on to tell them who built it, what engine is in it and how fast it will go. It's just one of those things that you wouldn't understand unless you have been infected with the "Bug".
The "Bug" should be listed by the American Medical Association as the incurable disease that it really is. You can treat the symptoms of the disease all your life and just about the time you think you have the disease under control it will knock you down on the ground and stomp on you like the neighborhood bully!! Sometimes the disease will go into remission and won't reveal its ugly head for years and it will lull you into a false sense of security because you think you've been cured. Then when you least expect it, BAM, just like the TV chef throwing red hot pepper, the "Bug" will sneak up on you and attack you from behind. Fortunately there ARE some people that the "Bug" doesn't affect. They are the same people who never catch a cold because they have this overly active immune system that won't let the "Bug" get under their skin.
Then there are a few select lucky people in this world that actually EARN money by flying for a living and I am so envious yet I do feel sorry for them. They think they have the "Bug" cured but they don't. It's still there just waiting for right moment to pounce on them. The only advantage the rest of us neophyte aviation wannbe's have over the lucky people is that deep down we KNOW we're not cured no matter how much we yearn to be disease free.
I HAD the "Bug" under control for years and just knew I had it cured. I thought the economics of farming for a living for 25 years - until I was broke - had permanently purged my system of the "Bug". This thing IS sneaky and unpredictable. After only three years of full time heavy highway construction work the "Bug" bit me on the rear. The sore it left would NOT heal no matter how much hydrocortisone I put on it.
After a full year of torment and torture from my sore butt I finally succumbed to the "Bug" and bought a 1946 Aeronca Champ. Man is this fun. I feel better and my blood pressure is lower than it has been in five years. Without even thinking about it I gave my 10 year old daughter a ride one evening to look at deer in the bottoms. WTH was I thinking!!! Too late and as much as I hate to admit it I have given her the "Bug". If the social workers find about this, they will most likely have me arrested for endangering the economic welfare of a child. Unfortunately she does appear to have a pretty serious case. I can only hope and pray they find a cure for the "Bug" before she reaches her child bearing years.
OK I admit it. I am a weak individual and I gave in to the "Bug" but just like an alcoholic back on the bottle this feels so good. I can go bore meaningless holes in the sky, scout for deer on a nice calm evening, land in a pasture behind the neighbor's house and give his kids a ride or take pictures from the heaven I think I'm in. Finally I have a life with some fun and exhilaration in it. For the first time in many years life is good and content. Work all week away from home but KNOW when I get home the Orange Pumpkin is lovingly and patiently waiting for me. (The Orange Pumpkin is the nickname for my old Champ that came from some of my aviation friends who also happen to be infected to various degrees with the "Bug" so you know their judgment is impaired!!) Yes Sir, life is good!!
Fast forward three years and DAMN just when I thought I had life by the tail the "Bug" struck again and this time with a vengeance. I couldn't believe it. For the first time in my life the sailing was smooth and there were NO sores on my rear from the "Bug". However just like the current flu epidemic I was hit hard and the local emergency room was full so they just sent me home to fend for myself. Most medical experts don’t even recognize the "Bug" as a disease but what do they know anyway. I fought hard but it is hard to have your heart in a fight that you know there is no way in heck you're going to win. Nothing has changed. The ONLY temporary cure for the "Bug" is to buy another airplane. This time the cure cost a lot more. (I wonder if the cure is cheaper in Mexico.) The inevitable is that part of your life that you have no control over and you just as well get it over before it eats you alive. At least that's what I told my loving wife.
While concentrating on my wonderful little life I fell head over heels in love again but this time it was with a sleek, sexy, beautiful red and white Pitts. The "bug" got me again!!! Remember I said it WAS an incurable disease. My wife does not think it is a disease. She simply thinks I am having a mid-life crisis AND she tells me that most men just get a girlfriend. (She says that ONLY because she doesn't think I can handle a new girlfriend!) But anyway as the advertised NEW engine from my new red and white love heads to the shop for an overhaul my wife "lovingly" informs me that a girlfriend would probably have been cheaper. I really have a nice wife but she very simply DOES NOT understand because the "Bug" has never bit her or if it did she has more developed immune system than I do. If you personally don't have an incurable disease you can't really understand what it's like to have one. Nevertheless I will continue to humor her at least until the real NEW engine gets back and I can go flying.
I am going to start a one man campaign in which I hope to raise lots of money to try and find a cure for this miserable disease. You can send money directly to me and I'll start on the cure for the "Bug" one person at a time beginning with me as I think I am infected a LOT worse than anyone else. Somewhere in the aviation industry there HAS been an intentional cover-up on the seriousness of the "Bug". The FAA should at least issue a pilot A.D. on this disease but I think they are in on the cover up because they would lose their jobs if everyone was cured. In the meantime I think I will write the EAA and the AOPA to see if they will jump on the bandwagon about this serious issue but I fear they are in on the cover up.
As I sit here under this old Waco at the Antique Airplane Association Fly-In, I am getting paranoid as I think that right here in the middle of Iowa the AAA must be involved in the cover up also. The "Bug" is being spread here with reckless disregard to the consequences of the disease. They’re WANTING people to fly these old airplanes and give "kids" of all ages rides. These old planes do entice you to embrace the past and as I remember my past I want to say - Thanks Dad for giving me the "Bug".