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Poems and Thoughts    by Frank Maurer

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Flying VII. A Trip to Fort Collins, Colorado.

After getting my pilot's license, I needed hours towards my commercial license.
As told in 'Flying VI', I flew others and shared the cost to help towards my finances.
Well, I was a budding mammalogist and there was a conference in Fort Collins, Colorado.
I went as always to the Cornell 'ride box' to see if I might find three others,
Who would be willing to fly such a long trip (for me then!)
In a small, single engine, Piper Cherokee from NY to CO.
Not so difficult, it turned out, and the three seats were readily filled.
One guy was a Cornell grad student, Murray Colbo, and his friend, Sharon, plus one other.
The trip was a long one for me, but 'easy' to fly from one radio point to the next.
We flew south of Chicago, the whole city was a panorama below us, to the right,N.
Soon after, I remember, a large thunderstorm loomed ahead.
Being over the wide, flat Midwest, it was easy to visually divert around the localized storm.

Landing in Fort Collins, we each went our own way,
Agreeing on the return time to the airport, for our return flight.
The conference for the American Society of Mammalogists,
Was a wonder for me, with so many professionals of the same ilk.
I was even approached by a very nice older gay mammalogist whom I gently deferred!
The return flight was lovely and uneventful.

An Afterthought:
Our flight to Fort Collins occurred in the late 1960's with the rest of life filling in between.
About October 2020, I received an email from a Murray Colbo,
Asking if I was the 'Frank' who flew him to Fort Collins for a conference!
I said yes, and he identified himself and how well he remembered our trip.
He has spent his career studying various freshwater environments and their aquatic invertebrates.
He related that in all his study grants he always requested a helicopter and pilot
To enable him to collect specimens in very out of the way aquatic habitats.
He emphasized how important the helicopters with good pilots were for his research.
On one grant, he explained, the pilot assigned to his research
Frankly frightened him with his flying style--not great confidence!
He related that he would not continue with that research project,
Unless he got a more skillful pilot.
One was granted and he went on with his work.

After a pause, I timidly asked how he rated my flying during our flight.
He unhesitantly replied, 'Oh you were skillful and competent !
Can you imagine how a warm feeling developed in my chest?
It was such a joy to hear his evaluation for a skill I had worked so hard to achieve.
This is what makes the blow of growing older, a softer landing for the End !

Frank Maurer 17 July 2023 1845 Hours.

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