The Texas Gooney Bird

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” (  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.

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Angel Flight SC

Founded in 1991, AFSC is based in Dallas and serves Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas and Oklahoma. With the help of amazing and generous volunteer pilots, we provide free flights for people in need of humanitarian assistance or medical treatment.





PO BOX 2207
Addison, TX 75001

Tel: (972) 755-0433

Fax: (972) 858-5492