I was 19 and lived in Marin County, California The only way to get over to Marin County was to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. I was missing Vermont and the small town I lived in there reminded me of home. I rented a small cabin on a hill surrounded by trees. The only drawback to this beautiful location was the fact I worked in the next town as a beautician and didn’t own a car. Fortunately it was only two miles to work which I walked each day, rain or shine.
One day I decided to take a bus trip to San Francisco and take in a movie. Halfway there I spotted a big sign that read “Commodore Aviation view San Francisco in one of our seaplanes. ” My mind was racing, should I take a chance, I’ve never flown before, but I always wanted to. I stood up and pulled the cord, the bus came to a stop and I stepped out along the highway.
I could see the little planes on the water across the road bouncing around and splashing into the dock where it was tried. The pilot and a plane were ready for a passenger, so I walked down the dock to the sea plane. That was the easy part! The wind was tossing the plane around. Now I’m trying to step gracefully into a moving plane and hold my skirt down at the same time.
Finally i’m settled into the passenger seat. The pilot started the engine and.the next thing I remember is skimming across that choppy water, bouncing against the waves, picking up speed, and then a slow climb into the air. The first place we flew over was Alcatraz Prison which was still operating, If the plane dipped down below 1,000 feet the guards at the prison were authorized to fire a warning shot. Later I learned the prisoners would pay the pilots to pick them up. Which they never did.
Before landing I learned that you could also take flying lessons at Commodore Aviation. That sparked an interest in me so I asked the pilot how I could obtain more information. After landing and on ground again I was introduced to another pilot who taught the lessons. On the same day I ended up in the air again with John, who told me some of the fundamental parts of flying. The aircraft was a CB which was bigger than the Cessna I flew in earlier.
Before my lesson was over I tried my hand at flying the plane which wasn’t as easy as it looked. There were two control sticks that were used to keep the plane straight.; I guess I had a heavy hand, because when I took the controls the plane dipped to the left then to the right I never could keep it straight. I need more lessons! By this time it was getting late. I had no idea of the bus schedule so John offered me a ride home which I accepted. By the time we drove up to the cabin where I lived we had a dinner date for the next night.
I remember choosing a green dress with a black jacket to throw over my shoulders as it was always chilly in San Francisco, even though it was the middle of August.
The time had passed when John was to pick me up. I was feeling a little anxious then became furious when he arrived an hour later. I was going to call it quits. He apologized explaining that he had to accommodate a group of college students that wanted to fly over San Francisco after dark to see the city lights.
Being young and naive I alway believed his story. We dated for four months. We spent quite a bit of time at Commodore. Many of our dates were spent teaching me how to fly. It was difficult landing the plane on choppy waters, but I did it. I had a good time hanging with our friends and flying whenever I could. I never did solo,that scared me flying around up there by myself I had enough problems finding my way around on the ground!
Four months later we were married and moved to an apartment in South San Francisco. Three months after that move I was expecting our first child. That was the end of my flying lessons. I had morning sickness that lasted all day and spent a good deal of time in the bathroom hanging my head over the toilet. John was habitually late, and being new to the city I hadn’t made any friends. I spent most of my time alone.
Until we meet again!