One of my favorite expressions is “life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!” We all age and deal with it because there is no other attractive alternative.
My dad used to say that he didn’t mind the creaking, cracking joints when he got up because it was a reminder that he was alive. Lots of things make us feel old, such as celebrating one of your kid’s forty-fifth birthday.
Or, not being able to sleep through the night without at least one trip to the bathroom. There’s a whole laundry list of daily reminders our bodies give us as we age. But what really makes me feel old are things that remind me, as they said in the opening to the TV show The Lone Ranger, the days of yesteryear.
When I was growing up, my father used to take me to aviation museums and often would point out airplanes he flew. They all had propellers and most had fabric covered control surfaces. I’d look at them with interest because I wanted to become an Air Force pilot or Naval Aviator, but couldn’t really relate because they were from his generation.
Going through his logbooks, I learned that during his Air Force career, he flew 27 different types of airplanes, not just different versions of the same one. No wonder there were so many in museums!
In my Naval Aviation career, I flew just six! My son flew just three in his.
So now, when I go to an aviation museum, I look at the airplanes and helicopters I flew and record the bureau numbers. Or, a person who visited my website and owns a T-28 or T-34 will send me an email asking if I flew their airplane. In one case I did, and I sent him copies of the pages in my logbook as provenance.
Last summer, the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola announced it was unveiling an SH-2F with the bureau number of 151312 this coming October. Into my logbook I went and sure enough, the helicopter was there as a UH-2C. It was originally built as a single engine A model, was converted to the twin engine C which I flew before being sent back to be modified into an F.
I haven’t added up the hours I spent in the pilot or co-pilot’s seat but it was one of our detachment helicopters on a round the world cruise on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. America that included seven months off Vietnam during the war in S.E. Asia.
The America is now a reef off Cape Hatteras and 151312 will live on in a museum. So now, something that I actually flew is in a museum. Someday, I hope to show it to one of my grandkids and point out that not only did your grandfather fly that type, but THAT ONE is in my logbook. Kinda makes you feel really old! Happy, too.