My dad, Neal, had served in the United States Army in 1959 as a mathematician for calculating the launch of missiles before computers were integrated. He was a brilliant math, chemistry, and computer teacher. He also had a private pilot’s license and would take off from corn fields in Michigan and a small airport in Indiana. His brother Leon was also a pilot instructor at the airport in Indiana. I have returned many times to these two locations to relive those memories.
I discovered Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in 1997 from visiting with a friend and the idea of going on search and rescue missions to find downed airplanes sounded interesting. On one training exercise at Kings Mountain, I found the transmitter by looking for details on the ground without the use of the tracker. I had learned this skill in their class. I also was able to fly an airplane twice while it was airborne during my time with CAP. It was an introduction to flying, and some members in my squadron actually went on to become private pilots. I remember an incident at the Monroe airport where a student had to land the plane because the pilot had had a heart attack. He was instructed how to land over the radio. For several years, I was a part of 111 Search and Rescue Composite Squadron near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. At that time I remember Charlie Self serving in leadership. It was a long drive to the building. My dad would wait in the car and read a novel that he enjoyed. Occasionally for some events he would be invited inside along with other parents. The last event I remember going to was hosted at a military encampment base near the ocean. I don’t remember much from that event except for the armed guards on duty who were guarding a building near our barracks with shoot-to-kill order. And another memory of eating a hasty lunch in the mess hall with the rest of the squadron.