"For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been and there you long to return."
Leonardo da Vinci
"Home, to an airman, is wherever there are hangars, planes to fly, and a field to fly them from."
C. Nordhoff, J.N. Hall, 1929
As long as I can remember, I have been interested in aviation - as confirmed by my childhood artwork shown below:
An example of my early aviation art - at the age of 4 (March 1963)
My first "flight": in a Link-trainer simulator (Aviodome museum in Amsterdam, 1971) - note the special aviator sandals!
After getting my Electrical Engineering degree (specialized in robotics) with Aerospace Certificate early 1984, I ended up in the aerospace industry: developing fly-by-wire flight control systems and other avionics. As it happened, the company offices were located at an airport: Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE) in Florida. The corporate hangar and planes of the employee flying club were right next to the offices. A couple of colleagues were flight instructor, and rental of the aircraft was quite inexpensive: for instance, $25 per hour ("wet") for a fully-IFR equipped Cessna 152 (ca. 1995). And convenient enough to make a couple of turns in the traffic pattern during lunch break and go to the practice area over the Everglades after work. So I got my Private Pilot Certificate "ticket" (called Private Pilot License, PPL, in Europe) in August of 1988. Plenty of airports to explore in Florida: over 1200!
Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE), where I worked and got my pilot's license
(the arrow points at my office)
On short final for Everglades City Airport, on the Florida west coast - check for crossing alligators!
Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI) and Palm Beach County Glades Airport (a.k.a. Pahokee, KPHK)
(the East-West runway at Pahokee (no longer exists) was quite short: 1775 ft (540 m) and right behind a high dike)
My cross-country trips in Florida
Twenty years later (1991): still practicing (again, at the Aviodome at Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport)
I transferred from Florida to Seattle/WA in 1996, and joined a flying club at Boeing Field (BFI). The Seattle area is great for flying: Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains, the San Juan Islands, .... The climate in the Pacific Northwest is similar to where I grew up: in The Netherlands. So, plenty of opportunity for flying "solely by reference to instruments", i.e., "in the clouds". I got my Instrument Rating there in 1998.
King County International Airport (a.k.a. "Boeing Field", KBFI) - just south of downtown Seattle
(Renton Airport (KRNT) is just over the ridge on the left; Seattle-Tacoma International just beyond the ridge on the right - both at 4 miles / 6.5 km)
About to cross the runway of Friday Harbor Airport on San Juan Island (a
great destination for getting a $100 hamburger),
to join the right-hand downwind
of Runway 18
One of the highlights in the flying club was the annual fly-in at Copalis Beach State Airport on the Pacific coast, 95 miles (150 km) southwest of Seattle. It is the only beach "airport" in the USA! As the name suggests, the "runway" is the sand of the narrow beach - keep that carb heat on! Landings and take-offs have to be timed well, with the tides. The damp dark sand at low tide is surprisingly hard. And no, you don't want to get (stuck) in the soft dry sand!
The runway of Copalis Beach State Airport
Myself on the runway of Copalis Beach, during the annual fly-in of the flying club
Then I had the opportunity to join the wonderful Boeing Employees Flying Assiciation (BEFA) at Renton Airport (KRTN). They had a Cessna 172S on floats, so I got interested in getting my Seaplane Rating, which I got at Jack Brown's Seaplane Base near Lakeland/Florida, during a vacation in March of 2000.
Getting my Seaplane Rating in a Piper J3-S floatplane
What to do next (besides staying "current" on instrument flying)? Well, I passed the written exam for the Commercial Rating and Ground Instructor Rating, and got my Ground Instructor - Advanced certificate in 2001. Then I transferred to the south of France ("Airbus country"), and pursuing those ratings went out the window...
When I last checked my logbook (2015), I had roughly logged the following:
- 460 hrs total time.
- 200 hrs cross-country.
- 60 hrs complex/high-performance aircraft.
- 27 hrs night time.
- 40 hrs "real" IMC.
- 12 hrs seaplane (SES).
- 3 hrs "taildragger" (aircraft with a conventional/tailwheel landing gear).
- 1 hr multi-engine turboprop.
- And YES: my number of take-offs still equals my number of landings!
More "artwork": the result of doodling during a boring meeting at work
©1999-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.