In 2003, after a long year of training, study and examination, I earned my Private Pilots License.
I could write a few thousand words on the process and the topic, and one day, I assume I will. But for now, let it simply be known that, as a boy, I had an extensive collection of toy airplanes, could recognize the tail art on almost an passing airliner, and stood watching airplanes take off and land with my Dad, who got his license in the late 1990’s. I’m confident that had you told the 15 year-old me that I would one day pilot an airplane alone, I would have laughed at you. But in hindsight, I’m not sure it’s completely out of left field. My Dad had the bug long before he was able to learn to fly, and he passed it on to me long before I learned to fly, and flying remains one of my proudest accomplishments and true loves.
I’ve long had the desire to combine fishing and flying. Simply loading up an airplane with a few rods and blasting off for a short hop to some water that would otherwise mean a long ride in a car would be satisfying enough, but I was captivated many years ago by an image put forth by, of all people, the Chief Parrothead, Jimmy Buffett. Mr. Buffett painted a picture in one of his books of spotting tarpon at low altitude from the cockpit of his Lake Renegade amphibious aircraft, landing, and casting a fly. Take a guy who loves fly fishing, aviation, and has a particular love for sea planes and Caribbean waters, and this can be a lasting image in his mind.
Fishing and Aviation collide head on in the wilds of Alaska, where thousands of anglers go each year to hop aboard a single engine airplane and be shuttled to parts that could not be reached otherwise. The De Havilland Beaver has be come almost synonymous with Alaskan fly fishing, and rightly so, having put so many anglers on the fish up north. The Piper Cub, too. We love Cubs in my family. My Dad eventually got his own about a year ago, similar to the one fly fishing legend Lee Wulff operates in this incredible video dug up by Moldy Chum last week. It has it all; A Cub on floats, some beautiful scenery, great fishing footage, and Mr. Wulff narrating it all, yelling in cadence in that inimitable way that people used to do on TV, for reasons that still alludes me.
He also left behind a memoir entitled Bush Pilot Angler that I look forward to reading. Given all the flying or fishing books I’ve read, It’s a wonder I didn’t get to it yet.