Let’s leave the world of music for a minute while I share another memorable moment from my flying career. Shortly after I began piloting charter flights out of Van Nuys Airport in Southern California, I was hired by a middle-aged couple to take them on a scenic flight of the San Fernando Valley and Northern Los Angeles County.
When they arrived at the airport for their flight they requested that I use my judgment as to the areas we should over fly. I agreed and I helped them board our single-engine Cessna 182. Interestingly they both chose to sit next to each other in the backseats, leaving me alone in the front, much like a taxi driver with his fare!
We took off in a southerly direction so I chose to head towards Santa Monica and ultimately circle back in a northerly direction over the coastal waters. By the time we reached the shoreline we were at an altitude of about 7500 feet. As I briefly turned my head for confirmation that my passengers were doing well I received quite an eyeful. Oh yes…they were doing extremely well…..and…. virtually naked were aggressively pursuing their membership in the one and only “MILE-HIGH CLUB”, much like a couple quite a number of years their junior.
The longer we flew the more turbulent it got…and I don’t mean from the unstable air outside. Finally, after about 90 minutes of flying and several club membership renewals, my passengers laughingly instructed me to return to the airport. Upon safely exiting the plane, they both gave me a hug and thanked me immensely for the fabulous afternoon. What can I say?? All in a day’s work!!
There is one last story of a family flight I would like to share with you:
When my youngest daughter, Vanessa, was about 3 years old… my first wife, Marie, and I decided to take a family flying trip in our newly acquired Piper Turbo Arrow IV. One leg of the trip ultimately took us from Dallas, Texas (where we had been visiting Marie’s parents) to Pueblo, Colorado. It was summertime and as was quite typical for our route of flight that time of year we spent a fair amount of the journey dodging relatively significant towering thunderclouds. Since our aircraft was equipped with oxygen for high altitude flying I chose to make this portion of the trip at a cruise altitude much higher than a more traditional flight.
As we were taxiing in towards the executive terminal parking area following our landing in Pueblo I made a comment to the effect that “we had flown so high that trip it almost seemed like we were in heaven”. A few moments later we arrived at our assigned parking spot. As we opened the door to prepare for exit we could hear air traffic control voice transmissions being broadcast from large speakers on the roof of one of the neighboring hangers. (This was so that ground crews could prepare for arriving aircraft).
Upon suddenly hearing these transmissions as our door opened, Vanessa looked at me wide-eyed and yelled, “DADDY….and I can hear the angels now!!”
Anyway…. thinking back on that amazing moment has brought such a smile to my face SO many times throughout my lifetime!!
Very few people are aware of William Primrose’s fascination with aviation. He was, in fact, quite friendly with the Beech’s, the founders and original owners of the legendary Beechcraft Aircraft Company. Primrose even acquired his Pilot’s Certificate and purchased one of the very earliest models of the famed “Beechcraft Bonanza” which he flew often.
At age 30, when I finally mustered up the courage to tell Mr. P of my decision to trade my career as a performing violist for that of one as a businessman and entrepreneur I was shocked at his response.
“Alan, my dear,” he began while looking me directly in the eye. “I am sure this has been a very difficult decision for you to make. I, too, faced this dilemma many years ago and ultimately made the decision to remain with my viola. However, I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have actually regretted choosing my musical career over that of a life as a pilot!”
Not long before his death, Mr. Primrose and I spent almost an entire week together at my home in Southern California. His health was quickly failing and we both knew this would most likely be the last of such visits together. It was an incredible week. We spent hours talking (very reminiscent of our first year together following his heart attack in 1962), laughing, fooling around with the viola and socializing with my family. His one true request during that week was that I would take him flying in my airplane one last time.
So, one afternoon during the visit, we drove to Van Nuys Airport where my plane was tied-down. After completing a standard pre-flight we taxied out to the active runway and were soon airborne. Not long into the flight I turned over the controls to my dear mentor. I will never forget the sparkle in his eyes and grin across his face throughout the remainder of our day’s truly memorable adventure.
The photos below were all from our final visit together! And what a visit it was!!