In everyone’s life, there is a person who has a profound influence on your life. One who instills in you the confidence to find the courage to accept a challenge that stretches your natural abilities way beyond your imaginations.
I was fortunate to have someone that afforded me that opportunity nearly 60 years ago.
As a young 16-year-old boy, I was always fascinated by aviation.
I would build model airplanes, read books about famous aviators and ride my bicycle to our local airport to watch the airplanes take off and land.
I would spend hours at the fence line peering through, dreaming about learning to fly with the birds in an airplane that I totally controlled.
One day while looking through the fence at my aviation dreams, a man came over to me from the other side and asked, “do you want to come and look at the airplanes?” Thrilled and bursting with excitement, I said, “Sure, thanks!” That was the beginning of a lifetime relationship with one of the pioneers of Minnesota aviation, Francis William Einarson.
My eyes widened as Francis showed me his airplanes and allowed me to sit in the cockpit. It was a thoroughly inspiring experience.
After the tour of the airport, Francis bought me a coke and we sat down in the operations building and began talking about our mutual love of aviation. Soon the conversation turned to what I would like to do with my interests in aviation. I took a deep breath and said, “I’d like to learn to fly.” Adding that I, nor my parents, could afford training costs.” To my surprise Francis said, “That should not be a problem.” “How could that be?” I asked with a puzzled look on my face. Francis explained that he would teach me to fly if I would come to work for the airport part-time and for every hour I worked he would give an hour of flight training time. I was elated and said yes.
The next year I worked every weekend. By the spring of the following year, I passed my FAA flight test and was awarded my private pilot license. In college I was awarded a commercial pilot license and multi-engine rating.
Francis W. Einarson died on May 10 at the age of 91. His aviation legacy goes back to 1948 when he and his brother Jim started Einarson Flying Service at the small general aviation airport in International Falls, Minnesota. That small airport grew into a major regional airport on the Canadian border. Francis, for his enormous contributions in the economic development of aviation in the state, was named to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. In addition, in 1968 he gave a flying lesson to Charles Lindberg to recertify him to fly a float plane.
Francis Einarson’s aviation legacy will remain one for all who love aviation. The thousands of pilots who were taught to fly by this great and compassionate flight instructor will remember forever when Francis stepped out of the airplane and said, “Go ahead and take ‘er up for a couple of touch and goes.”
Francis, we all miss you.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |