With the pandemic sweeping our nation and our world, we wanted to turn our attention to the thing that brings us all here to begin with, our community and our airplanes.
You’ll notice that very little of our issue covers the effects of the coronavirus on aviation, though that remains overwhelmingly the biggest story in the world and in our little aviation niche, too.
When we announced last month that we would be putting together special features dedicated in part to the strength of the people like you and me who fly small planes, the response was enormous. The idea, which resonated strongly with our readers, was not so much to document the effects of the novel coronavirus but to highlight the resilience of the people who fly small planes in the face of that virus. So we wanted to share with you the faces, the stories and the strength (and, okay, the planes) of our readers. We think that you will find them as moving and inspirational as we have. (SCROLL DOWN TO MEET OUR READERS AND READ THEIR STORIES)
Flying is in Jan Johnson’s DNA, as her father was a fighter pilot in World War II. She loves continuing her passion for aviation in her Stinson.
Her Plane: Beautifully restored Stinson L-5.
Ratings: Private Pilot (working on seaplane rating)
Favorite Plane: L-5 Stinson! (But with great affection for Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Boeing Stearman.)
Home Airport: Hayward Executive, Hayward, California
Favorite Destination: Low and slow to KOSH
Her Story: “My mom’s first husband was a USAAF fighter pilot in World War II, flying the P-51 Mustang. He then served again, flying jets in the Korean War. He was killed in a flame-out accident in his Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star in Japan. My mom returned to the U.S. and remarried. I grew up hearing stories of his bravery, courage and fun sense of humor.” After working for years as a flight attendant, the tallest female FA in FAA history, she believes, she got her rating at 51½ years of age. Then she got the Stinson. “I fly my 75-year-old warbird to several fly-ins and airshows each year and strive to talk with each person who approaches my airplane. I allow kids to climb up into the pilot seat and make believe they are flying.”
Flying In Pandemic Times: “Not much change. I made a short flight recently. No traffic. Upon landing at my home airport, I thanked the controller in the tower and wished him well. He reciprocated.”