My Sam was Karl, a gregarious charter pilot at Billings, Montana, where I learned to fly and became a flight service specialist.
Karl purely loved to fly and since it was the early days of my infatuation I drank in everything he said. He did not like to fly alone so often invited me to accompany him, allowing me during the deadhead legs to fly whatever plane had been assigned him, from C172’s to C421’s.
Karl was a truly happy person and it's not until you meet one that you realize how rare they are. He was exactly where he wanted to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do and glorying in every minute of it. He was in his mid thirties when I knew him and was, let's call it as it is, fat. He had huge thighs and would cruise with the backs of his hands rested on them, finger tips on the bottom of the yoke, and the needles would never move. You would swear the instruments had to be inoperative. When I asked him about it, he looked astonished and said “It's a lot easier to keep them steady than it is to make corrections.“ A duh statement if ever there was one, but how often do you hear it?
Karl met a woman who lived in a town too small to have a charter service, and love won out when he left flying to accept an engineering job that would put him nearer her. I lost track of him and don’t know if he continued flying personally. But I will never forget him and would like to have him know how much his positive attitude has influenced all that I have done in the ensuing thirty years. Thank you Karl.
After decades of flying and instructing in light single-engine aircraft, Kay retired to Prescott, Arizona. She wrote this for Inner Art of Airmanship in 2002. She passed away in December 2010.