Last week I had the good fortune to fly an aircraft for the first time thanks to Fred Barron who, along with Joe Shepp, heads up the Garberville Pilots Association. I met Fred for the first time during a meeting at Calico’s where I’d come to learn what I could about local aviation and show some brochures from Bombardier Learjet.
We talked a little bit after the meeting and Fred told me that he is a flight instructor and flies out of the Garberville Airport. He has been flying for 50 years. He offered to take me flying, and a few days later we met at the airport.
After the short hitchhike there, I listened to what Fred and some other pilots had to say about their experiences flying, expressed my interest in obtaining my pilot’s license and took a few pictures. Another pilot had borrowed Fred’s plane and after he landed and refueled we climbed into the Piper Cub (which is a light sport aircraft, or LSA).
Fred told me what the instruments on the dash were called and explained their functions, fired up the engine and we taxied to the runway. Taking off was very exciting (it lifted off the ground at around 60 miles per hour).
We climbed to around 2,500 feet above ground level, flew around for a while and then Fred let me take the control stick in front of my seat, and explained how to use it to steer the plane. I turned right and left, angled the nose up and down, and flew straight for a while as Fred instructed. Garberville and the Eel River were below us and we flew over oak trees, spruce and grasslands.
Around Pratt Mountain the air became less dense and I could feel its effect on the plane. We flew around it and Fred pointed out his house below (which is mostly underground) and we could see his wife and dog out in front. She saw us as we passed by and we all waved then headed back towards the airport. Fred landed the plane and explained how important it is that one should practice landing many times with an instructor before attempting it on their own.
Fred Barron is a Sport Pilot Instructor who provides students with the training they need to get their Sport Pilot Licenses out of the Garberville airport. He also trains private pilots to get their tail wheel endorsement and can be reached at 707-845-2685.
Derek Johnnie with pilot instructor Fred Barron behind him.