Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good ol' Jack Greiner.

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



Aero-TV:Aero-TV: Profiles in Aviation – Jack Greiner, A Lifetime of Flight


  1. I met Jack in a much similar way, I hopped a ride from Blakesburg to Ottumwa and back in his Fairchild 24. We had some radio trouble that he had fixed while we were there. Jack is just one of those quality men that has kept aviation alive. Thanks for sharing your story!
    Fred Krueger

  2. Same here: I was 16 and freshly soloed in an L3.Jack was at Blakesburg with his old Cub, hauled me in and let me fly the entire flight. He hopped out after three landings, patted me on the back, and told me to go have fun!

    It is in that spirit I try to do the same with any kid with the gumption to give flying a try. Got my nephew started the same way, soloed him in my Interstate and launched him off for a few weeks to do whatever he wanted to do with it.

    He's now flying a Q400 for a living and I suppose he'll be scrounging Pietenpol parts someday.

    Jack is one of the finest. I owe him more than I can repay...but I'll keep on trying :)

  3. Jack is now mentoring my son to become a pilot also. I am so grateful for the attention he has given to my son!


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