“Sir, Were You a ’38 IP…?”

I was walking through the Minneapolis Airport one day when this guy came up and asked, “Sir, were you a ’38 IP (T-38 Instructor Pilot) at Randolph?”

I didn’t recognize him at all, but replied, “Yeah, for six years or so…”

“I think I flew a check ride with you,” he went on to say.

“Well, how did I do?’ I retorted.

“No, you gave me the check ride,” he responded before he ‘got it.’  A broad smile then came to his face.  He then continued, “I remember flying a two-ship formation check with you, and never laughing so hard on a flight, either before or since!  You just sat up there (up front) and came out with one quip after another.  I was laughing so hard in back – but was afraid to let you hear me!”

Deadpanned, I said something like, “I was just commenting on what I was seeing…”

He went on, “Yeah, but the things you were saying were killing me!  Like on departure (to the North) when you said, ‘Let’s leave it low here, to give the shoeclerks on their way into Base, an appreciation for the sound of freedom!  Maybe we can make ’em spill their designer coffee!’  And you blew right up the highway Sir, still in Burner!  And from there on, there was no let up!”

Then he said, “Sir, I know it was a flight evaluation, but I have never had so much fun on a ride ever since.  That day you made flying really fun for me!”

And that’s what I often tried to do for the folks I flew with.  My IPs, Russ Sweets (’37s) and Rick Vaile (’38s), made flying really fun for me, and I always felt obligated to pass it on. Apparently I did for that kid, on that day…




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