Up, up and away in the friendly blue skies

INDEPENDENCE — If you get a chance to fly out to the coast or just around the valley, head out to the coast.    In just about 20 minutes, you’re over the beach, with views as far as the Tillamook valley to the north.    On a clear day in March, Dave Martin, 75, took me up for a flight in his homebuilt Van’s RV airplane. He had just been awarded the Wright Brothers Award from the Federal Aviation Administration, an honor reserved for those who have flown 50 years or longer without accidents or violations.    “Winning the award sort of confirmed that I’ve done a lot of things that people don’t have the opportunity to do: fly for 50 years, and do it safely,” Martin said.    He learned to fly when he was 14. His mother took flying lessons in exchange for work she did at the city airport in Freeport, Ill. His whole family became pilots.    “For two summers I took flying lessons,” Martin recalled. “We moved away before I was old enough to solo.”    He didn’t fly again much until he was 24 and living in Southern California. He took his first solo flight off the cliffs of Torrey Pines, Calif., in a glider.    Since then, he has flown a wide variety of aircraft, estimating about 150 different types including licensed aircraft and single-seat ultra-lights.    “I have a very wide variety of flying experiences,” Martin said. “Much of the reason for that is that I was the editor of Kit Planes magazine. But I flew all kinds of airplanes before becoming an aviation journalist.”    Safety permeates other areas of his life.    “I’m probably a better driver being a pilot than I would be not being a pilot,” Martin said. “I’m thinking ahead and realizing that I need to drive smoothly, just like the need to fly smoothly. Also using checklists, at least mental checklists, probably comes from training as a pilot.”    Martin, part of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 292, is the 42nd person in the state to receive the Wright Brothers Award.    EAA Chapter 292 is an active club in the community, based at the Independence State Airport. Twice a year, the club sponsors Young Eagles flights for those aged 8 to 17. It also runs an Eagles program, providing flights and information about flying lessons for adults.    A general purpose fly-in is planned for Aug. 15-17, and will include a Van’s Homecoming. A variety of aircraft will be at the airport that weekend, as well as activities for the public to enjoy.    For more information about flying, see the EAA Chapter 292’s website: eaa292.org.


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