Touching the Sky
copyright © 2013 by H. Paul Shuch, all rights reserved
That flight in the Aeronca Champ in 1961
Was not supposed to change my life, was only meant for fun.
Who knew it would propel me toward a new, uncharted course?
It's almost as if I were guided by an unseen force
That's leading me along a certain path for my own good...
But that sounds superstitious, and I'm never that (knock wood).
When military service was inevitable, I
Rejected Army, Navy, and Marines, to seek the sky.
The Air Force trained me in electronic combat from the ground,
And though I never earned my wings, I very quickly found
Affinity with those who flew the transports and the jets.
I knew I would return to flying some day, just not yet.
But when I left the service, "some day" didn't come around
For better than a decade, and by that time I had found
The resources to earn my ratings up through CFI,
So I could introduce a host of others to the sky.
It seems that flight instructing was as natural to me
As physics or as engineering. They all set me free.
Now, flight instruction in the USA had hardly changed
Since way before Pearl Harbor. I considered it quite strange
Curriculum development was failing to keep pace
With changes in technology. I may not be an ace,
But as an educator, I could see a better way.
I knew I'd have to try to change the status quo, some day.
Whenever you are working for somebody's FBO,
Upsetting their whole apple cart is not the way to go.
You teach the class exactly as the management decreed,
And do not rock the boat. It is as though you have agreed
That any innovation you are wishing to pursue
Will have to wait until the flying school belongs to you.
When that chance you've anticipated finally presents
Itself, you have to go with it, can't let it make you tense.
The new Sport Pilot rating was an opportunity
To change the flight school paradigm to what ought to be.
The timing was ideal, as I had recently retired,
And, as for the curriculum, I really was inspired.
It took me seven months to plan my business in detail,
From airport lease, to planes, to what to do if I should fail.
The normal aviation business plan requires some grit:
Decide up front how much to lose. Achieving that, you quit.
I traded in my Beechcraft on a Czech primary trainer.
No mortgages. No creditors. It couldn't get much plainer.
This whole new training model, and the lesson plans I made,
I shan't be sharing with you - they are secrets of the trade.
The bottom line: I crank out licensed pilots in ten weeks,
Good stick-and-rudder men and women learning my techniques.
And what's it cost me? Every extra minute of my life --
I thank the spirits I have such a great, supportive wife.
The Susquehanna Valley is the perfect place to fly;
The scenic hills and rolling river complement the sky.
Lock Haven is an ideal strip for training, it is clear,
With weather that's acceptable for forty weeks a year.
So if the blue sky beckons, and adventure you've been cravin',
Come out today and fly with me, at AvSport of Lock Haven.
The cost? Not insubstantial, because nothing good comes cheap.
I'm marginally profitable. Mostly, though, I reap
Inordinate returns when each new pilot earns his wings.
The income isn't much, but there are more important things.
When my accountant checks the books, and dares to ask me why
I do this, I say it's because I get to touch the sky.
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If you can drive, you can fly!
Copyright © AvSport of Lock Haven, a subsidiary of Microcomm Consulting
This page last updated 18 March 2013
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