I think that I can credit my dad for peaking my interest in aviation. In many ways we were so alike and yet at other times,very distant. Airplanes was a subject we never got tired of talking about. Just those trips to the airportand as they say, kicking the tires. If there was an airshow anywhere near Kansas City, we were sure to be there. Seeing those Boeing PT-17 Stearman's with their big radial engines going through the paces, would keep my head craning around for hours looking at the smoke trails as they did low level acrobatics. Sometimes my dad would come and take me out of my classes at high school and we would go flying. Maybe to his home town Buffalo or Springfield, Missouri. I knew the way and many times my dad would let me fly the airplane. I would follow the roads and railroad tracks until reaching are destination.
At almost the same age in life, we were flying airplanes. This is all I ever wanted to be, just a Private Pilot. You might wonder why so much has been said about airplanes and not helicopters. Somewhere tucked away in my memory banks, was a burning desire and interest in helicopter aviation, I just didn't realize it at the time. Flying airplanes was more social and meeting my friends at the airport and taking flights to places that I had not been too yet. I went to the airport almost every chance I got. Even if I didn't have any intentions of flying that day, it was just being there. Sometimes an opportunity would come my way and I would join one of my pilot friends to fly with them. We shared a lot in those days and always took an interest in each others accomplishments. So the road to flying helicopters actually came about by first flying fixed wing aircraft. While they are completely different to fly, many things that we needed to know was very similar. Weather, navigation and regulations, just stuff you needed to know regardless. Also in those days, there were not too many helicopters. Between the states of Missouri and Kansas, there were three. Mostly for commercial purposes and so training was almost non-existent, and very expensive.
A lot of helicopter pilots received their training in the U.S. Army and it was probably the best training that could be had. Again, later on I'll explain how I finally got my foot through door, and my dreams of flying helicopters came to be true.