The Flying Bug

Mon 29 August 2022

One of my concerns about leaving Decorah was that I would find it difficult to continue flying. As we were looking for potential places to move to, I was always checking out the airport situation, figuring that as long as something was near, I could find ways to fly. As our decision process converged on the Cedar Rapids area, I felt it would be easy to fly, with both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City having airports, and there being several small fields in the area. I also had in the back of my mind the possibility of joining the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), although I hadn't specifically looked into whether that would be available in Cedar Rapids.

As we settled in, I started looking in earnest. It turns out that there is no general aviation (GA) in Cedar Rapids, as it a larger regional commercial airport. I checked into Iowa City, and there is GA support there, but it is also larger, and they don't have planes that I can fly without additional training; I am all for additional training, but I'm also trying to be cost-conscious, and this wouldn't be cheap.

I started looking at the smaller municipal airports, and there are quiet a few within 40 miles or so. (In fact, in a good fraction of the country, most people live less than 50 miles from an airport.) When I looked at Green Castle airport, which is listed as private, I found that it is run by the Green Castle Aero Club. Whoa! I had to check this out! I went to a club meeting and was immediately sold; and I am now a member of the club. I haven't been cleared to fly solo there yet, but I have had one flight with with a CFI, and plan to get cleared as soon as I can.

In addition to my airport search, I found that Cedar Rapids is home to the CAP 129th Cedar Rapids Composite Squadron. A couple emails connected me to leadership and I was invited to a meeting to learn more. After attending this meeting, speaking with the group's leader, and just observing, I decided to join CAP as a senior volunteer. I hope to have opportunities to fly, though it may turn out that I don't; but I do think it will be an opportunity to learn, and certainly an opportunity to volunteer. Where this will lead is unclear, but it seems a worthy venture nevertheless.

And while I'm on the subject of flying, I though I'd share a picture of me in the very first airplane I ever rode in. This is me, with Jan Collmer in his Pitts biplane in 1990 at the Waukesha, WI airport. The short story is this: I met Jan, president of Collmer Semiconductor, early in my career as an electrical engineer doing power electronics work. He had stopped in to visit my company in Madison, where I worked, on his way from Dallas to Oshkosh for the EAA fly-in that year. He invited any who were interested to come to Waukesha the following weekend, where he would give aerobatic rides to all who showed up. I went, I flew with him, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride as he did loops, rolls, hammerheads, and more. The only part that freaked me out was the six inches of slop between my shoulders and the shoulderstraps of the 5-point harness!

(And please do read about Jan - I had no idea back then of all his accomplishments, but he was a pretty amazing guy!)

Jan Collmer and me in Waukesha