If I had flown to Los Angeles 20 years ago to meet the same terrific American Aviation Historical Society people I met just less than two months ago, I would not be a resident of my Springfield, Illinois hometown today. My memories from the experience are as dear to my heart as the first time I fell in love.
After my “return to earth” from the city and people I called “Heaven West” there was a flurry of e-mail in which AAHS “players” and I considered the future. I was told by a major player at one time during the correspondence that she would do everything she could do to ask around to find an employer for me. Initially, my hope was that I could “land” a position with one of the aviation museums or airports I had visited. My dream employer would engage my ability as a researcher and writer/photographer. An employer in Heaven West would have been Yanks Air Museum where Frank and Christen Wright had been so kind to me, or Carl Scholl at Aero Trader.
If there was a ghost of a chance that Planes of Fame Museum’s leader Steve Hinton (Sr.) would have remembered me from his 2004 participation in that year’s Springfield Air Rendezvous air show when I hung around the P-38 he flew and kindly allowed me to “occupy” for 10 minutes on the ground with camera, I would have sent him a resume. But overriding those possibilities was a reality I could not overcome LA traffic.
A local friend who had lived in that part of California told me I wouldn’t have to drive the freeways to get around in LA. I sense that he’s right. Older people drive in LA. Why couldn’t I?
There were other factors. A current area resident cautioned me regarding the cost of living out there and growing issues with immigration and law enforcement. I knew that if I moved to Los Angeles, I would move knowing I would never return to the city I’ve occupied for almost 67 years. I would leave bitter that I had not succeeded where Fate had “planted” me, knowing that as friendless as I am in Springfield, I would initially be no better out west. I did feel that chances for growing new friends in LA were far better than in Springfield. Especially since starting AeroKnow Museum, I’ve met many good people here, but I’m too busy with developing this enterprise to sustain friendships. ALMOST without exception, the only people I know are acquaintances.
In a perfect world, I would LEAP to fly to Heaven West once, twice or more times a year to work with AAHS. I’ve begun to serve them as a consultant. Such visits would have to be subsidized by sources beyond me; my current meager income would insult any legal American citizen who earns a living harvesting crops. I think if I could visit LA, meet the right people, I could find a road to a better standard of living than I’ve found in Springfield. I need to find a way to visit AGAIN before I think about visiting three or four times a year.
In the meantime, I’m engaged in “putting ribbons” on “packages in process:” the acquisition of pictures I took with a borrowed camera, the return of the AKM file about Porterfield light planes. It’s been a challenge to engage my promised role as a consultant — requiring significant time with my “head” OUT of AeroKnow Museum development. Anticipating eventual satisfactory resolution to the “ribbon” issues, I am cutting back on my volunteer efforts for local aviation organizations that have not helped AKM. A lot of dust is settling. My outlook toward the future will be much clearer when this protracted process is complete.
Finally a major irony which it pains me to report. Remember my gross ineptitude regarding not leaving Springfield for LA with adequate battery and memory capacity for my two cameras? I anticipated that I could recover those “funbled balls” in LA by finding and buying new batteries and charging capacity plus memory cards locally. But it didn’t happen. There was too much going on. And good people did help lessen the severity of the crisis. After returning home, I took the Canon EOS memory card I had tested and thought was the wrong kind of card for my older Canon back to the store where I bought it. Unfortunately I had brought along the wrong receipt. It was for something I had purchased earlier in January, not related to the trip. So I brought the “bad memory card” back to AKM. Three days later a friend who knows Canons took a few pictures with my camera and the problem card, and they turned out just fine! I had simply taken some under-lit test pictures the day before flying out, not properly processed them, and when I concluded the card was bad, I left it in Springfield. If I had taken better pictures with the mamory card, better processed them, I WOULD HAVE KNOWN, I could use the card. My picture taking capacity would have been almost DOUBLED if using just the Canon. I would NOT have had to be so bleeping conservative with the camera during the trip. What can I say, world? It was a lousy lesson to learn, especially considering the uncertain future of ever returning to LA, but it was a lesson I will never forget!
Something else I will never forget is the incredible time I had during my visit to Heaven West, the warm hospitality of everyone encountered, and the undreamed of privilege of learning so much about aviation out LA. Thanks again to everyone who made it possible. As I say in closing many e-mail letters . . . .
May your skies be CAVU
and may you always return,