Welcome to the official site of Paul Berge.
Stop yourself if you’ve heard this: A guy walks up to Paul Berge at the Ailerona airport café and says, “Hey, you’re kinda famous, aren’t you?” And before Berge could answer, “Why, yes, I am, Mr. President,” this guy realized his mistake and quickly left. Despite the misidentification (possibly he was thinking of the late Perry Como, a common mistake), the handle, “Kinda Famous,” stuck. You could search the Internet and get all sorts of hits on Paul Berge, flight instructor, writer, actor, veteran, retired air traffic controller, cellist… Okay, that last one was a stretch, but it was on the web so must be true. Truth is an illusive currency in today’s world, but you can be certain that by exploring this site and reading Berge’s many short stories, novels and viewing some of his videos, you’ll say to yourself, “One day, that guy’s gonna meet someone sorta famous.” Meanwhile, be sure to order the vegie omelet with pepper jack cheese next time you’re in the café, and remember to tip your waitress; she’s working on her pilot license and needs the money.
The Cessna 150’s interior, cracked and faded with age, exuded the pickled aroma trainers get from decades of student sweat and anxiety. From the right seat I mentally calculated how long we’d be able to slog around the pattern before the line of afternoon cumulus clouds to the West turned to thunder, while reminding my student to keep the ball centered in the turn. I knew Emily was ready to solo. Unfortunately, she knew it too.
We bounced after flaring too high but recovered nicely, only to swerve between two runway lights. It was as we taxied through the weeds back onto the pavement that I knew that the only cure for pre-solo panic was to kick the instructor out of the nest. “Taxi to the ramp,” I said. “Stop here and keep it running.” I sounded as though we were about to rob a liquor store. When I unhooked my seatbelt and asked for her student license her face indicated she might need that liquor store and would rather take to crime than go it alone.
Emily was from a southern state where the English language flows like warm syrup, and while handing over her paperwork she said in her Scarlet O’Hara voice, “Must you?” Not, ‘Must I,’ as in ‘Must I solo today?’ But instead, ‘Must the instructor be so cold-hearted as to leave her to these damn Yankee traffic patterns full of unintelligible radio calls from strangers who show no kindness?’ I signed her certificate and muttered last rites about airspeed and coordination, but she only nodded with southern indulgence, and as I closed the door she calmly adjusted the pillow behind her back and cracked the throttle to blow my cap off. She was definitely ready.
I sat in the chair on the FBO’s porch...
To read the rest of the story and learn how Emily's solo went and check out other short stories click here.