The member for this month is Phil Stotts. He is your Chapter 119 Vice President. Here is his story.
When I moved to the San Diego area in 1968 I was flush with cash from spending a summer in Alaska working aboard a geodetic survey vessel. So, I walked into EZ-Air's office at Palomar Airport, laid down $600, and told them I wanted my Private Pilot license. Several months later I took the exam and with ink still fresh on my license, I bought a 1946 Cessna 140 for $2000. After I flew my 200 hours in it I sold the airplane and used the proceeds to get my Commercial and IFR rating at Renton Airport near Seattle. Returning to San Diego I used the GI Bill to get my multi-rating in a Beech-18 at Jim's Air at Lindberg Field.
I continued working in various oceanography jobs to pay for my aviation vice. In 1979 I decided to take a break from the ocean and start doing something to make money with airplanes, instead of paying to fly them.
My first job was in Utah flying a Cessna 182RG doing large mammal surveys in Utah and Nevada. Counting wild horses and antelope, and sometimes coyotes and jackrabbits if I flew too low, was a lot of fun. The agency I worked for also was monitoring some Colorado Squawfish in which radio transmitters had been implanted. The Green River was their home, the range of the transmitters was 1/4 mile, less when they were underwater which, of course is where they lived. This required very low flying through river canyons to pick up the signals. More fun.
Following that I acquired a Cessna 206 and headed for Alaska to buy salmon and take them to market. My partner Jody had a Cessna 180. We located ourselves in an unfinished cabin in Shaktoolik on Norton sound. The villagers would bring their fresh caught salmon to us where we weighed them, paid for them, loaded them into our airplanes and flew them down to Unalakleet, a larger village with a real airstrip, unlike the dirt road we used in Shaktoolik. The fish would then be transferred to a C-119 and flown to Anchorage.
After returning to Utah I flew cargo and passengers in Navajos and Beech99s around the Northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.
In 1986 I was hired by DHL Airways, headquartered in Cincinnati. At that time they operated two 727’s and 12 Metroliners around the eastern U.S. When I was hired on I expected to retire still flying those Metroliners, but then the company experienced explosive growth, eventually acquiring 30 727s, six DC-8s and four Airbuses. After a year in the Metro I transferred to the B727, which I flew until the Age 60 rule forced me into retirement.
I then got type rated in the Grumman Albatross G111 (big seaplane). A retired British Airways 757 Captain retrieved the airplane from the boneyard in Arizona with a plan to restore it for operations out of Grenada, in the Caribbean. He wanted to use it to take tourists and divers out to islands near Granada. This operation would have dovetailed nicely with my oceanography experience, but unfortunately he crashed it in Florida, ending his retirement dream and mine.
So, not yet done with flying, I took a job flying a Cheyenne for an air ambulance operator out of Reno. After hauling boxes around North America for twenty years, rescuing patients from small towns in Nevada and Northern California was refreshing and rewarding. Unfortunately the outfit was falling apart at the seams so it soon became time to retire again.
Now about my current plane. It is a Murphy Rebel built from a kit manufactured in British Columbia. I bought it from my friend Jim Nunnelee who used its construction as a class project in the A&P course he was teaching at Glendale College. Jim is an A&P/IA with a degree in Aviation Maintenance. He loves airplanes. I think he bleeds Phillips 20/50. I was pretty sure it would take off and land without crashing.
The Murphy Rebel was designed as a bus/backcountry airplane. It is a two place taildragger with a real fat wing to which I added vortex generators. It is slow, cruising at 100mph. I am unsure of the stall speed because the airspeed needle is buried somewhere near zero when it finally gives up flying and stalls, which is a sweet and gentle experience.
I wanted this airplane because it is a good photography platform and I enjoy backcountry flying, especially in Idaho and Montana. It is also comfortable on the dirt roads and dry lake beds in Nevada.