Those Who Have Walked Through my Life – Ed

It continually amazes me who “walks through my Life;” and when they show up.  It kinda reinforces the mantra, “When the Student is ready, the Teacher will come.”

Towards the end of my flying career I had the opportunity to fly with Ed Yielding.  I was flying as a captain on the DC-9 at the time.  Because of a scheduling issue, Ed was assigned to fly just 1 leg with me, from Detroit to Memphis.

When he introduced himself, I knew I knew his name.  I wasn’t sure from where, but I had heard his name before.  As we began talking with each other, he shared that he had been an SR-71 pilot in the Air Force.  And then I knew!  I had read about this guy, and was thrilled to be flying with him…


We only flew together for maybe 2 hours or so.  However, during that time I came to really like the guy, and at some point, shared with him that I was in recovery from alcoholism.   I went on to tell him that one of my “regrets” in life was not ever applying for the SR-71 program.

Pilots for the SR-71 program were hand-selected.  By various sources, there were only 126 or so pilots who were ever checked out in the SR-71.


I didn’t apply because I was afraid of “washing out;” I didn’t apply because I knew they gave applicants “astronaut physicals” – and that scared the hell out of me.  I was afraid “they” would discover my drinking!  Damn…

I stayed in contact with Ed for a few more years, and he still “resides” in my contact list.  In one of his last emails to me, he offered to share a bit more about flying the SR-71, as it becomes declassified.  He then went on to say, “I recall you are an excellent pilot and there is no doubt in my mind that you could have flown the SR.”  And in that one, simple statement  the “demons of regret” I carried for so many years, released – never to haunt me again.

I came across his email a while back and just sat with it for a minute – with gratitude.  I am so grateful that Ed “walked through my life” that day…


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