One of the things I want to do with this blog is to acknowledge some of the good people I have met in this world of old airplanes. I have a story to share about a man named Jack Greiner.
It occurred in 1978 at the Antique Airplane Association fly-in, Blakesburg Iowa. I was 14 yrs-old. I knew Jack from seeing his beautiful Stearman C-3. And even though I had hung around bugging him and others for a biplane ride in exchange for my helping wipe down his plane, I didn't really think Jack knew me. Why would he care about a nerdy kid anyway?
To my surprize one morning at the breakfast tent, Jack came and sat down across from me. I assumed he would have preferred engaging in the morning flying stories with my dad and the other pilots around. But, instead, Jack sat down and struck up a conversation with me. We talked about school and the other things I did back in Texas. He was asking if I fly with my dad and I talked about having learned with my dad in the Tcraft. He was interested in me and this was a change for me. Most adults don't give kids much attention. I'd say he was half-way thru his plate of scrambled eggs and sausage when he asked me the question. "So how many hours do you have logged by now?" I replied... "Well, none. I don't have a logbook." And suddenly Jack stopped everything. He said... "WHAT?" Then he said... "How are you going to be a pilot without a logbook?" He pushed his chair away from the table, his breakfast remained half-eaten, and declared... "C'mon we need to go find us an airplane!" The next thing I knew, we were headed to find a J-3 cub. He borrowed one from somebody. I'm not even sure who. I wish I knew.
Over the next two days, we flew for 1.8 hours. To this day, I remember S-turning in the traffic pattern to let the planes ahead get landed. Also I learned about turns-about-a-point first from Jack. At the end of our flying, Jack wrote down his address on a piece of paper, handed it to me, and told me that when I get home, I should go buy myself a logbook and mail it to him. I did and he made the very first two entries, signed it, and mailed it back.
Now THAT's a memory I will never forget. I will always respect Jack for being a good man. Not only for what he did for my pilot training, but for caring enough to give a kid the time of day. And for giving a kid some inspiration. It's an example that many of us adults should practice. Jack is a true gentleman and exhibits the true heart of a barnstormer.
Last summer, I saw Jack again at Blakesburg. The picture at the beginning of this post is from that visit. It had been 29 years since that day and 19 years since I last saw Jack. I told him the story and he was surprized that I remembered, because he hadn't. He just smiled and said "I am glad to have made an impression." Jack - Thanks for your selfless act.
Jack has been featured in a book called Vagabonds of the Sky, by Bruce McAllister. Click Here to preview the book.
It's the people like Jack who embody the mystique of aviation for all it is... TLB
UPDATE: 04/26/2010 - THE FOLLOWING LINK WAS POSTED TODAY ON ANN.
Aero-TV:Aero-TV: Profiles in Aviation – Jack Greiner, A Lifetime of Flight