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ChapterGram: January 2013

Learning to Fly at 68


This article originally appeared in the January 2013 edition of Galt Traffic, the monthly newsletter of EAA Chapter 932 in Greenwood, Illinois.

By Ed Moricoli
EAA 1055412, Woodstock, Illinois

One day at work, I was talking with my friend Neil Anderson about airplanes, and he mentioned that he was planning to rebuild a North American T-6 Texan. I asked Neil if I could donate my time to help. He gave me a quizzical look and didn't say anything. I insisted I wasn't joking and told him I'd be more than happy to help with anything he wanted done. About a month later and after few more conversations, Neil asked if I wanted to go flying in his J-3 Cub. I couldn't pass up the opportunity, so off I went to Galt Airport in Wonder Lake, Illinois, not knowing what to expect.

I had not been in a small aircraft in about 45 years, so I was a little apprehensive, to say the least. The first major hurdle was actually getting into the aircraft. After a few minutes of untangling my legs, I made it into the front seat and off we went. As we took off from Runway 27, I must confess, I was holding on for dear life! Once in the air, Neil told me to take the stick and gave me a couple of pointers on what to do. I darn near wet my pants, but I "steered" the plane, and after a few minutes, I felt more comfortable with myself. And that's when it hit me: I was hooked on flying an airplane! When we arrived back to Galt Airport, I no longer felt 68 years old, but more like an 8-year-old in a candy store!

I began working with Neil on the T-6 in February 2011. My first job was to remove the old paint from everything - talk about a messy job! Anyone who has done that knows what I am talking about, but I was having a ball. You may think I'm a bit touched in the head, but being around aircraft and actually working on one was a thrill for me! Over the next few months, Neil began to bug me about taking flying lessons. Then one day he suggested I buy a Cub and take lessons in it. Can you imagine? I hadn't even taken a lesson and he's telling me to buy a Cub! "Sure, Neil, how I am I going to explain that to my wife, let alone talk to her about taking flying lessons?"

As the months passed, Neil and I would be working on the T-6 and after a bit he would announce that it was time to fly, so off we would go in Neil's Cub! Neil would show me some basic maneuvers, and then I would do them. Of course, it was Neil who was doing most of the controlling, but to a rookie it was great!

One day after landing and heading back to the hangar, Neil told me to taxi the plane. What a sight to see! If there were a cop around, I would have been arrested for driving under the influence! I was still procrastinating about taking lessons, but Neil kept nagging me about it. During this time, my aviation obsession continued to grow. I joined EAA, Warbirds of America, and AOPA, but I still wasn't even remotely close to taking a lesson!

Editor's note: The next chapter of Ed's story will be published in the February edition of Galt Traffic, EAA Chapter 932's monthly newsletter.

Ed Moricoli was born and raised in Woodstock, Illinois, and spent 30 years working for Prudential Insurance before retiring. He is now a bailiff in a felony courtroom for the McHenry Country Sheriff's Department. He is learning to fly at Galt Airport and is an active volunteer with EAA Chapter 932.

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