Two punches in the “bucket list”

Eric writes:

My third taste of flying came when I was 14 years old in Junior High School. I listened to the radio a lot, as most early teens do, and would call in to the radio station trying to win prizes. Once when I called in, I was the lucky tenth caller and won a Rolling Stones album.

The DJ’s name was Lee “Windy’ Winslow. He asked my name and then asked where I was from. I told him that I was from Jamestown, North Dakota. He said that he was also from Jamestown and had started his career as a DJ there. He recognized my last name because he had dated my cousin Gail while living there. Lee and I slowly became friends.

The radio station he worked for contracted with Don Martin, a local pilot, to do the rush hour traffic reporting. Don was the first pilot in the Denver area to do this and his call sign was Sky Watch One. I kept asking Lee if he could get me a ride on the Sky Watch airplane. Eventually, my persistence paid off. Lee called me up and set the date.

Stapleton International Airport in 1966

Stapleton International Airport in 1966

He picked me up after school and we drove out to Stapleton Airport to meet my hero, Don Martin and go for a ride. We took off about 4:00 PM and flew around Denver for about two hours. I took lots of pictures. I wonder if I still have them or if they got lost? Anyway, it was a wonderful experience. I was literally floating on clouds.

After we landed, we went to a bar across the street from the airport to sit and talk. At about 9:30 or 10:00 it was time for me to get home, but Lee and Don were still talking away. Lee gave me his car keys and told me I should drive myself home and leave the keys under the floor mat. He would pick the car up later.

If you look at a map of Denver and see where Stapleton used to be and our address at 1699 S. Winona Court, you will see that this is about 16 miles of driving through a major metropolitan area. I was 14 years old and had never driven a car before in my entire life. I had to drive myself home alone. I had two major life experiences in one day!

I had to explain to my parents where I had been all afternoon and evening when I got home. Amazingly enough, I didn’t get in trouble or put any dents in Lee’s car.

A few years later my brother Linn bought a 1963 Austin-Healey Sprite from Lee. We had a great time with that little car. But that is another story.

— Eric H