On A Personal Note
August 1, 2020
One of the things I enjoy most about being an aviation medical examiner is the opportunity given to me to meet pilots from many parts of the state, from many walks of life.
I have refrained from writing much about my experiences doing flight physicals out of respect for Dr. James Lakin, who puts a tremendous amount of effort into writing the monthly installments dealing with aeromedicine. My small contributions writing this small monthly column pales in comparison to the articles that he researches and pens each month. I am going to make an exception here today.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to provide a flight physical for a gentleman from the Wadena, Minnesota area and he made a lasting impression on me. He was a retired law enforcement officer, having served his community for many, many years.
I must admit that many people who I have met who have served in law enforcement for many years are just plain worn out, or are disillusioned with people, in general. This person was the antithesis of that. He was kind, soft-spoken, and had “kind eyes”, if you know what I mean (I think you can tell a great deal about a person from looking at their eyes). He had a gentle smile and a firm handshake (I make no bones in expressing my medical opinion that the mask mandates do more harm than good, and I also believe in handshaking), something that one is hard pressed to observe/experience today.
He loved aviation, and we spoke about our grandkids and how we promoted general aviation so as to preserve the ability to fly for those precious grandkids. I mentioned the Minnesota Pilots Association to him and we spoke about the mission statement of our organization. He promised to join and later that day he did just that. He was grateful for my policy of providing significant discounts to law enforcement people and for people who have served our great Country.
He returned for another flight physical two years later and he asked me if I had seen that month’s issue of the Minnesota Flyer, and I hadn’t yet received my copy.
We chatted for a bit after the exam and he told me he would send a copy of the Flyer to me. He did so and on the cover was a photo of him pulling his aircraft out of the hangar with the help of his little grandson, smiles on their faces. That photo touched my heart, as I could see that he practiced what he preached. A week later I received a copy of that issue of the Flyer with a note of thanks from him, autographed…an awesome gift.
A few months ago I was examining a pilot from that area and he mentioned that this gentle birdman, Steve Young, had Gone West not long before. His contributions to the Wadena community, and our aviation community, will be greatly missed.
Blue Skies and Tailwinds, Officer Young!