I was born in Vancouver, BC, grew up in Saskatchewan and moved to New York city in 1960. While still in high school in Saskatoon, I joined RCAF Reserve Sqn 406, which operated B25 Mitchells and later applied to Officer Training School in Trenton,ON. However the program was undermined by then Prime Minister Diefenbaker, who became infamous for stopping production of the highly advanced Avro Arrow, and I went to University and Art School instead.
In 1965 I was invited to the Univ. of Oklahoma as a visiting sculptor and was able to log some time in one of the school’s C150s. And when I returned to New York, I got my license at LaGuardia Flying School. Although I had obtained a green card (and later US citizenship) at that time FAA regs prevented me from owning a US registered aircraft, so in 1970 I returned to Canada and purchased a Fleet 80 Canuck, which came with wheels, floats and skis. With a little over 100 hrs logged, my first cross country in my own plane was an 1800 mi. flight from Saskatoon to New York’s Flushing airport, via northern Ontario. I had to land at Flushing because La Guardia wouldn’t answer me on my Narco coffee grinder.
Earlier in the sixties my family and I had begun spending summers on an island in Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay and part of the incentive for obtaining a plane was to be able to fly from the water. The Canuck was followed by a Lake Amphibian and for the past thirty years I have been flying a PA18 Super Cub, which we put on floats each summer.
My wife Cintra and I began visiting her family in this area in the early 70’s, eventually we rented a place and now have a house of our own, with a separate studio. Over the years I wore a groove along V3, first between Caldwell Wright and New Garden and then between N57 and KTEB. I still commute to New York to teach, but, now, only during the spring semester.
Partly out of my interest in seaplanes, in 1972, when we were both living and working in New York, David Quam and I teamed up to form the Seaplane Pilots Association at Little Ferry SPB, next to Teterboro airport. I was the founding editor and art director of the SPA Newsletter, which developed into Water Flying Magazine, the Water Flying Annual and later, the SPA Water Landing Directory. It also gave me a chance to put my various airplanes to work, attending Fly-ins around the country, in particular, Oshkosh, Speculator NY and Greenville ME.
When the association became too big for Dave and I, AOPA took over the day to day operations. The eight thousand member association is now based in Florida and I’m glad to say it is doing well under new management. When the Wx doesn’t drive you crazy, flying has been a sometimes practical way to get around, and I’ve flown light planes in locations as far apart as Alaska and Brazil but I must admit it’s my first landing on the water each spring that still puts a smile on my face. It’s the last bastion of independent aviation.