investigation into reports of unbound joy in aviation
"To the best of my knowledge, Senator, these are the facts of my life as I recall. Allowances must be made for the first 2-3 years as I was in not terribly observant. "I'm told I was born in Newark, New Jersey. The name of the hospital eludes me but it did have a diner across the street where my father drank coffee and smoked his pipe awaiting the news of my arrival. I was late, so he moved to a tavern down the block where he lost $13 shooting pool with some fat guy from Minnesota.
"After that it was the typical Eisenhower Era childhood in Westwood, New Jersey : TV dinners, Lionel Trains, Yoo-hoo, and Catholic guilt. At age 18, I joined the Army. There was well publicized war in Vietnam, and since my draft number was 323, and I was headed to college—a place I didn't want to be—I joined up.
"They made me a pharmacist (no kidding; pharmacy specialist MOS: 91Q) and sent me to Monterey, California. Yeah, tough duty. Later, I was sent to Hawaii for 13 months, where I learned to body surf and fly airplanes. I still fly airplanes. In fact, that's one of my first loves. I'm very egalitarian about loves, so have many firsts. The Vietnam war ended, no doubt in part due to my prescription filling abilities.
"I managed to stumble through four years of college and graduated with a BA in European History from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Tried graduate school but grew bored after a year, went home and wrote a novel called Bootleg Skies. Someone accidentally published it, so I wrote three more. Luck ran out while mounds of rejection slips piled up. So, remembering what Sister Belladonna told me in the third grade, ‘When you get lemons, make lemon daiquiris,’ I contacted a producer named Joe Pundzak (who also was the someone who published Bootleg Skies) and together we created the radio drama series, Rejection Slip Theater (RST).
"Didn't make a nickel, but RST aired on WHO 1040 am, Sunday nights at nine for ten years and can still be heard on podcasts. In between fighting surfing wars in Hawaii, gleaning liberal arts degrees in California and producing weird radio, I've managed to work 17 years as a FAA air traffic controller, 13 at Des Moines International Airport. I've written for a handful of aviation magazines and was editor of IFR—which stands for Instrument Flight Rules—from 1999 to 2005. And thanks to one of the RST actors, Morgan Halgren, I was invited to host a travel series called Side Roads, on Iowa Public TV.
"I fly as often as possible and manage to do a little flight instructing in my 70-year old Aeronca 7AC Champ whenever weather and spare parts allow.
"My wife, Kathy (a veterinarian), and I live outside Indianola, Iowa, not because they won't let us in, but because we like woods and fields and power outages in winter. Our daughter, Emily, lives in New Jersey, and don’t think we don’t see the irony of that. My favorite movie is White Christmas; my favorite color is red because it's easy to spell. My favorite book is Horton Hears a Who, favorite Beatle is John and favorite baseball player is dead. But, then, so is Lennon. These things happen.
"I don't like neckties, but I've been to Italy and all but four states in the USA. I don't play a musical instrument but once shook hands with Richard Nixon (true). I was in pharmacy specialist school at the Texas medical center where LBJ died and still get choked up when Old Yeller dies. That's about it. I will now take questions and give evasive answers.”