Rutherford Weekly

April 27, 2023

Rutherford Weekly - Shelby NC

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ISSUE NO. 17 • April 27, 2023 ISSUE NO. 17 • April 27, 2023 • • • 828-248-1408 • 828-248-1408 ©Community First Media Community First Media STILL LOCAL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! STILL LOCAL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! WITH THE MOST EXPERIENCED LOCAL BROADCASTERS. MALCOLM WATSON & PAT NANNEY along with SCOTT SHANNON & ROBBY BRIDGES. TRUE OLDIES TRUE OLDIES DOWNTOWN RADIO DOWNTOWN RADIO WAGY WAGY 107.5fm 1320am ©Community First Media Community First Media $$$ CASH ON THE SPOT BUYING & SELLING ANYTHING OF VALUE 828-289-6699 131 W Main St., Spindale Beside Barley's Over 34 years of service! Our 31 st Year • Over 25,000 Weekly Readers (Editorial note: Airplane pilot Gene Meade from Casar spent much of his career teaching people to fl y planes. Although retired from instructing, Meade said he fl ies for fun now, but said he was interested recently to read a story by Susan Hewitt, a former fl ight student from 1979. Susan, who lives in the Six Points area, wrote her own story about fl ying out of the Polkville grass strip in a Piper Cub under the instruction of Meade. Susan said she fl ew about 10 years after receiving her pilot's license, but gave up fl ying when her baby daughter was born. Susan writes her story). "Fly the dang plane!" These words were impressed on me countless times in my student pilot- ing with Gene Meade back when I was 22. He taught me to fl y at a dirt strip in Polkville which had a cow pasture on one end and telephone lines on the other end. It was known as a short strip, so you had to take off and land quickly. The strip was run by Fred Simmons, an old wing walker from the 30s. He devoted a giant fi eld and hangar to area pi- lots to fl y vintage planes. Gene was teaching me to fl y a 40s era Piper Cub tail dragger, which has to be landed with the nose up so that all three wheels just ease right on to the runway. At least that's the goal. It's hard- er than you think because you can't see the ground through the front window. You have to 'fl are' the plane as you look out the side window and ease it to the ground. That's what we'd been practicing and after 8 hours of instruction and on my 22nd birthday, we pulled up to the hangar at the end of our les- son and he got out and said "you're good to go." It was one of those moments where you keep going without thinking. My Dad was at the fi eld with me (he soloed at 20 when he was a Wake Forest student). So he and Gene waited on the ground while I taxied down the runway and took off. I'm a parent now and I can't imagine the feeling of see- ing your 22 year old take off in a plane she's piloting. Once in the air, the October trees were radi- ant red, yellow, orange, and green. My feeling of exhilaration knew no bounds. I was fl ying a plane by my- self. It soon turned to terror when I re- alized I was going to have to land with- out Gene backing me up as a crowd gathered to watch my fi rst solo land- ing. I circled the airport and prepared for the fi nal approach with knees a little wobbly. I pulled the power slowly as the plane descend- ed and attempted the fl are Gene had instructed me to do. There was a slight bounce...couldn't quite get all three wheels to land simultane- ously...but not too shabby...soon I was safe on the ground. The tradition after a solo fl ight is to have a corner of your t-shirt cut out into a square and some state- ment like "death defying act com- pleted today" is written in magic marker with your instructor's signa- ture and then hung on the hangar wall with all the other pilots who have done the same. A proud mo- ment. At that point in my life, it was just the best birthday ever. And Gene's wisdom "Fly the dang plane" has stayed with me for life. It's about keeping focus on the thing that needs attention and remembering what you know. Don't get distract- ed by the things that can take you off course. Dad was proud. His youngest had followed in his foot- steps. He took me out to a nearby mini-mart to celebrate and bought me a six pack of Budweiser, which was one of the best memories ever with him. There was a lot of grin- ning and detailing every single mo- ment in a continued replay. And since then, that moment has reminded me at every terri- fi ed edge in my life to "fl y the dang plane", that my knees might be wobbly but I can do it. It's seen me through skydiving, Toastmasters, parasailing, Hospice Chaplaincy, my own internal deep dive into therapy, both with myself and oth- ers, giving birth, ballroom dancing, and so much more. I recommend it. It's the only way to know how big you are and the opportunity for growth is there are every corner. Gene is still fl ying. Spoke with him yesterday. He received an award recently for 50 years of fl ight instruction without any acci- dents. So grateful for the lessons he taught me, not just about fl ying, but living. -Susan Hewitt Article Submitted by Jean Gordon. Contributed Photos by Gene Meade and Susan Hewitt. Flight instructor taught young student Flight instructor taught young student about life and "Fly the dang plane" SMALL TOWN FRIENDLY, BIG TIME RESULTS Gene Meade (left) pilots with a co-pilot going to the Carolina Aviation Museum in Charlotte several years ago. On this day Gene and his co-pilot were going to meet Jeff Skiles, co-pilot of fl ight 1549 that landed in the Hudson River in New York City. Gene Meade recently renewed his pilot's license. Shown here with Richard Fletcher. The Polkville Airstrip as it is today. Susan with daughter Molly. Susan Cole Hewitt Susan's father, Ben Cole, who soloed at age 20 when he was a student at Wake Forest. Susan later fl ew in her father's footsteps.

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