Guest post from Paul Proske, new pilot
As my wife will tell you, I describe myself as a pilot, a business owner, and an optometrist…in that order. Most conversations that I have with her or the kids will quickly turn to aviation. Go figure.
As a young boy, I would often go to the local VFW hall with my parents. On the backside of this VFW was Weiser Airpark, where I would sneak and spend hours watching small aircraft take off and land. That is when the aviation bug first bit me.
Years later when I was in college I went out to Easterwood field in College Station and took my first lesson. After that first flight I was officially addicted to aviation. My instructors out there were college kids too, and they put me through the paces.
In a little Cessna 152 I would do spins but would not be allowed to recover until they said the word. We would go do simulated engine failures but I could not add power again until the gear actually brushed the bushes on some unknowing farmer’s land. Those were fun times! I could only fly when I had enough money for a lesson, which was not often. But after I finished college, finally I got my private pilot’s certificate.
After I graduated, I went to grad school, got a job, got married, again went back to school, got another job…and completely stopped flying for over two decades. But the itch hit me once again. In 2014 I started flying again, bought an airplane and later got my IFR (instrument) rating.
My plane is a 1973 Piper Challenger, more widely known as a Cherokee 180. I call it the “Texas Gooney Bird” (www.TexasGooneyBird.com). The name is in dedication to my late father. He was the crew chief on a C-47 Skytrain in the European Theater of World War II. His crew called him “Tex.” The C-47’s nickname in Europe was the “Gooney Bird.” Also the man I purchased my aircraft from is a direct descendant of Sam Houston. Thus the plane’s name, “Texas Gooney Bird.”
One day, I heard a pilot on the radio that had “Angel Flight” in his call sign, which peaked my curiosity. I went to the web and looked up Angel Flight and found out what they do. What a great way to give back to our brothers and sisters in need! I knew from that moment that I too would become an Angel Flight pilot. Flying Angel Flights is honestly one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.