Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Flying, how it all started
One day in the winter of 2001, on a cloudy afternoon, my dad, mom, and grandma had taken me to the Evergreen Field airport (59S) in an area of Vancouver, WA called Cascade Park just a few miles northeast of the Portland International Airport, OR (KPDX). The Evergreen airport was opened in 1946. On that particular day of 2001, I was going to take my first flight ever. Since, I had mentioned it before to my parents, I was becoming interested in flying, and wanted to get my pilots license.
I will never forget my first flight, setting in the pilot's seat and actually flying the airplane for a few minutes as the flight instructor told me which direction to go. The airplane was a bright yellow J3C-65 Piper Cub, tail number N48612, as are most Piper Cubs. The frame and the wings of the airplane where still made of wood, but the core pieces of the wings called the spar where made of aircraft aluminum. The skin of the airplane is made fabric, unlike airplanes today the skin is aircraft aluminum and now the newest airplanes being built the skin is made of carbon fiber. It had normal sized tires on it, not the big balloon tires seen on most Piper Cub bush planes. I set in the back of the fight instructor, since these types of airplanes are a tandem still seating arrangement. All it had was a stick in between your legs, and the most basic instrument set up.
I had flown in airplanes hundreds of times across the country to different states for vacations, to see family and more. My dad had worked for Delta Airlines as an aircraft mechanic at PDX, for many years, so you can say I grew up in an aviation family. Every time we went somewhere I was always excited to go to the airport and see the airplanes and the operation on the ground through the windows of the airport terminal. Even to this day I'm still like a kid going the airport and still seating and watching. As we boarded the airplane I would stop at the flight deck and watch the pilots and look at all the instruments and switches, and thinking that's really cool and it's a lot of stuff.
At the Evergreen airport the instructor started the Cubs engine, and he taxied out to an approved grass runway that paralleled the main paved runway. The flight instructor took the Cub off and waved the wings to my parents and grandma on the ground watching us, climb out. We made a right turn heading north, for a couple of minutes. While we were flying north you could see Mount St. Helens covered in snow under the high overcast cloud cover. Once we leveled off he told me to grab the controls and look over his shoulder at the few instruments and out of the front window. I was now flying an airplane for the first time.
We had flown for about 15 minutes, doing some turns, climbs and descents. Then the flight instructor took the flight controls back over and we began heading back to Evergreen Field, and he landed the Cub back on the grass runway. After the flight I was grinning from ear to ear like a kid in a candy store, and I was hooked on flying. A month later I had left to go to basic training for the US Air Force, to become an aircraft mechanic.
Sadly the Evergreen Field airport, where I took my first flight is no longer around, it was closed in 2006.