1979 Felts Field Spokane WA
I was born in Spokane, Washington, part of the Pacific Northwest known for its influence more into
Idaho and Montana than the west side of Washington state. Maybe that's why an international
airport was developed in Spokane, a place that provided lots of runway space for single engine
planes and bigger. Summers from about 1958 (age eight) on, I would look to the skies, sometimes
counting aircraft that flew over our home, enchanted by flight, hoping one day I would become a
Marrying early, I had a baby daughter and flew the old Pan Am Airlines with her to Germany in
1967, where my husband was stationed. A transcontinental flight many hours long over the U.S.,
the Atlantic and Europe was my first experience in aviation, and even then I valued the immensity
and power of that aircraft. Six years later I was a student pilot soon to become a private pilot
trained in a Grumman American Yankee AA-1 Trainer.
Basic flight maneuvers/education included:
Slow flight, traffic pattern experience, hundreds of takeoffs and landings (touch-and-goes)
Practice in dead reckoning and VOR
Soft and short field takeoffs and landings
Stall series and steep turns
Techniques of mountain flying
Extensive ground school
At least two short cross-country flights
In September 1974, I passed the private pilot check ride.
In 1980, I began cross-training in a Piper Cherokee 180 in preparation for an upcoming flight with
my father (some 3200 miles round trip), which included crossing the Rocky Mountains from
Washington State to Minnesota (May 1981).
Logged hours after that concentrated on preparing for an instrument rating, which I received in
the spring of 1985.
Active flight continued through 1988, when I "retired" from acquiring further ratings. But the subtle
effects of having become a pilot continued into writing and the medical challenges to come.
After-effects of flying followed me even in novel writing. Quick Fall of Light (published in 2010 by
Gray Dog Press) was influenced by at least three flight scenes and the fixation of a pilot scientist
who devotes his life to an extinct bird.
Another novel, as yet unpublished, probes the mystery of thunderbirds, and a nonfiction hybrid
memoir (now completed) looks closely at the influence of Amelia Earhart in my flying life.
There came a time when I realized I had become a good pilot in some ways, only an adequate
one in others, and I didn't know how to break the stranglehold. Even so, I was extremely
lucky, not only in my capacity to learn and practice but to live all my moments in an airplane
with a sense of adventure rooted in gratitude. I knew I was lucky and appreciated every detail.
What I couldn't foresee was flight's long-term repercussion--it changes your life. No matter
what my relationship was with flying an airplane, I knew I could succeed at something very
intimate with danger, with misconception and illusion.
Cross-country 1981 Gillette WY