My parents tell me that when I was a baby they loaded me and my sister Sara on a MD80 jetliner to fly from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to Kansas City, Kansas, to visit my mother Vickie’s family in Marquette and Wilson, Kansas. As stated I was too young to remember it and I don’t consider that my first flight. Since memories are the very core of our existence, my first flight happened because of Ken Corbett when I was 10 years old in his Cessna 185 Skywagon II. Taxiing down the taxiway at Oshkosh’s Wittman Airport the day of my first flight, sitting in the co-pilot seat, feeling more anticipation than I’d ever felt is a moment I’ll never forget and continues to influence everything I am as a person. A lot happened in my mind as we bounced and jostled toward the runway. I was so overwhelmed that I almost re-live that moment more clearly in my thoughts than when I was actually there! Ken’s hands gently gripped the controls. I looked up and saw the sun dancing through the distorted plexiglass, illuminating his beautifully weathered face while he radioed the tower for clearance to take off. I remember the smell of decades of flight that the old Skywagon had been through as Ken pushed the throttle to full and we lunged forward down the runway. The world around me was squeaking, jumping, jostling, vibrating and shaking until Ken pulled the wheel back and suddenly the world went smooth and silent as we soared upwards toward heaven.
It was such an honor to be able to visit my hometown recently of Oshkosh, Wisconsin to photograph Ken and Mark together with their aircraft. The Cessna 185 Skywagon II on the left is the very plane that took me for my first flight. Mark’s Champion Citabria is on the right.