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Author Topic: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise  (Read 13736 times)

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davidh

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A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« on: December 02, 2007, 08:51:10 PM »
None of us will live forever, try as we might.  Eventually, no matter how carefully we manage our diets, exercise routines, and flying activities, one day we are each going to shuffle off into the great beyond.  I'm not looking forward to that day, but I accept that it's going to happen.

If I had my choice, when my time comes to mingle with the twinkling stars, I'd depart this world peacefully and without much fanfare, comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.  But since I don't spend my entire life at home, laying comfortably in bed -- and since I engage in  a wide variety of activities that involve some risk to life and limb (flying, scuba diving, driving, walking down the street, etc.) -- there's a chance that my demise might come in a manner and at a time that's not ideal.

I enjoy flying.  I wish I was able to do it more often, but work, family responsibilities, weather, and a million other little things keep me on the ground more than I would like.  Odds are, my end will be a pretty ordinary one, without much drama or spectacle.  Still, I recognize that there's also a possibility that I might end up "going west" at the end of a flight.  If I do, I'd like my grieving heirs to keep a few things in mind.  And I'd like to ask them not to do something.

If I do head off to the sweet hereafter as a result of an airplane accident, please keep in mind that at least I got to go out enjoying what I had been doing (except maybe for the last few seconds -- and who knows, I might even try to enjoy that once the outcome became inevitable).  You can grieve for me if you must, and I guess I'd appreciate the fact that you would miss me, but I would rather that you did your best to be happy and go on with life, despite my unexpected departure from the picture.  I'm sure that the world would suck a little bit more if I were gone, but there are plenty of other good things happening on the planet, and I'd hope my survivors could do their best to get their lives back to normal and try to enjoy some of those things.

I specifically do not want my family and friends to blame anyone or anything for my demise if the cause of my departure from this mortal coil was something I did myself.  Friends and family, please read that again.

I try to be very careful when I go flying.  I stay away from bad weather, I do my best to keep the plane well-maintained, I try not to exceed the airplane's capabilities.  And I try not to do anything so stupid that it's going to hurt me or anyone else.  I think I'm pretty careful.  But I am (or was...) human.  I am capable of making mistakes.  Usually my mistakes are small things, minor embarrassments and nothing more.  But people do make more serious mistakes, and some of them pay with their lives.

If someday I screw up bigtime, and it causes me to go gently (or not so gently) into that good night, I accept the blame -- and the responsibility -- for what happened.

If I fly my plane into the side of a mountain, it's probably not the mountain's fault.  It's probably not the government's fault, the airplane manufacturer's fault, or anybody else's fault either.  It's probably my fault.  Yes, you should blame me, and nobody else.  Heaven knows, I've been blamed for plenty of other screw-ups before.  Toothpaste tubes left uncapped, toilet seats left in the upright position, dirty clothes left in heaps on the floor - come on, blaming me for this one really shouldn't be that much of a leap!  If you simply must blame somebody or something, you can blame bad luck, fate, and gravity. But that's about where the list should end.

Please, don't blame the company that built the plane 40+ years ago.  Although I have no great love for that company (or any other), people blame them all the time for all sorts of things that are far, far beyond their control. They didn't build the plane with the expectation that I would fly it into a mountainside (or whatever bad thing might have happened to me).  If the plane and I ended up in a crumpled heap embedded in the rocks, the airplane manufacturer is no more responsible for that than the Honda Motor Company would be if I perished after intentionally driving my car over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Please do not sue anyone that you or your attorney might think is in some way responsible for my passing.  While I have great respect for many legal professionals, I think that the best judge of who might be at fault if I'm involved in a fatal accident is my fellow pilots - along with the professionals at the NTSB, who don't have an interest in anything but getting to the truth.  If you suspect my demise is the fault of somebody other than myself, I suggest you ask some of my flying buddies.  They will tell you the unvarnished truth.  While it might make you feel better to "blame" someone else (even if they have no real responsibility for what happened), you should know that when I go flying, I accept responsibility for the risks it involves.  Of course, I don't expect the engine to stop while I'm crossing the mountains, and I don't expect the airframe to crumple and the wings to fall off as I'm making a turn.  But I know that there's a chance something might go wrong, even something very bad.  If it does, I'll do my best to deal with it one way or another, because that's part of the deal we pilots make every time we leave the ground.

I don't want lawsuits filed against those who merely manufactured and sold the products that allowed me to enjoy flying.  Unfortunately, this happens routinely, and it's one of the things that makes flying increasingly expensive, more and more complicated, and less enjoyable as time goes by.  Lawsuits of this nature may be understandable, but I don't believe they are a good thing, since the juries composed of non-pilots that ultimately render decisions in these cases often do not really have a complete understanding of the context of an accident (no matter how well-intentioned they might be).

I cannot speak for others, and every grieving family must do what they think is right.  I'm not going to offer an opinion on any specific accident, since I'm not really qualified to do that.  But it's clear to me that after a tragic airplane accident, as sure as the sun will rise, you can bet that the grieving survivors of a deceased pilot will look for someone, anyone, to blame for the accident.  In some cases (very few, IMHO), there might actually be some blame to go around.  But the unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of serious airplane accidents are caused primarily by "pilot error" -- and that includes making bad decisions.  It surely must be a very bitter thing to try to accept, when you have lost a loved one suddenly and violently, that the departed is actually the one who's responsible for their fate.  I'm sure that "insult to injury" doesn't even come close to capturing what that must feel like, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one in an accident.

But I can say that if I fly into a rock, I am probably the one who should be blamed.  If you must blame someone or something else besides me, blame the rock.  But please, leave the airplane makers and other hardware manufacturers out of it.  When I go, I'd prefer that those who are left behind just uncorked a nice bottle of wine and passed it around, remembering something good that I may have done, and leave the lawsuits out of it.  Please.
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

LeeB

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2007, 09:04:07 PM »
Very well said and with your permission I'm going to borrow much of what you've said and put it with my will.

Cheers
Lee
Now flying an SLSA RV12

tonyrob

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2007, 09:35:09 PM »
None of us will live forever, try as we might.  Eventually, no matter how carefully we manage our diets, exercise routines, and flying activities, one day we are each going to shuffle off into the great beyond.  I'm not looking forward to that day, but I accept that it's going to happen.

If I had my choice, when my time comes to mingle with the twinkling stars, I'd depart this world peacefully and without much fanfare, comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.  But since I don't spend my entire life at home, laying comfortably in bed -- and since I engage in  a wide variety of activities that involve some risk to life and limb (flying, scuba diving, driving, walking down the street, etc.) -- there's a chance that my demise might come in a manner and at a time that's not ideal.

I enjoy flying.  I wish I was able to do it more often, but work, family responsibilities, weather, and a million other little things keep me on the ground more than I would like.  Odds are, my end will be a pretty ordinary one, without much drama or spectacle.  Still, I recognize that there's also a possibility that I might end up "going west" at the end of a flight.  If I do, I'd like my grieving heirs to keep a few things in mind.  And I'd like to ask them not to do something.

If I do head off to the sweet hereafter as a result of an airplane accident, please keep in mind that at least I got to go out enjoying what I had been doing (except maybe for the last few seconds -- and who knows, I might even try to enjoy that once the outcome became inevitable).  You can grieve for me if you must, and I guess I'd appreciate the fact that you would miss me, but I would rather that you did your best to be happy and go on with life, despite my unexpected departure from the picture.  I'm sure that the world would suck a little bit more if I were gone, but there are plenty of other good things happening on the planet, and I'd hope my survivors could do their best to get their lives back to normal and try to enjoy some of those things.

I specifically do not want my family and friends to blame anyone or anything for my demise if the cause of my departure from this mortal coil was something I did myself.  Friends and family, please read that again.

I try to be very careful when I go flying.  I stay away from bad weather, I do my best to keep the plane well-maintained, I try not to exceed the airplane's capabilities.  And I try not to do anything so stupid that it's going to hurt me or anyone else.  I think I'm pretty careful.  But I am (or was...) human.  I am capable of making mistakes.  Usually my mistakes are small things, minor embarrassments and nothing more.  But people do make more serious mistakes, and some of them pay with their lives.

If someday I screw up bigtime, and it causes me to go gently (or not so gently) into that good night, I accept the blame -- and the responsibility -- for what happened.

If I fly my plane into the side of a mountain, it's probably not the mountain's fault.  It's probably not the government's fault, the airplane manufacturer's fault, or anybody else's fault either.  It's probably my fault.  Yes, you should blame me, and nobody else.  Heaven knows, I've been blamed for plenty of other screw-ups before.  Toothpaste tubes left uncapped, toilet seats left in the upright position, dirty clothes left in heaps on the floor - come on, blaming me for this one really shouldn't be that much of a leap!  If you simply must blame somebody or something, you can blame bad luck, fate, and gravity. But that's about where the list should end.

Please, don't blame the company that built the plane 40+ years ago.  Although I have no great love for that company (or any other), people blame them all the time for all sorts of things that are far, far beyond their control. They didn't build the plane with the expectation that I would fly it into a mountainside (or whatever bad thing might have happened to me).  If the plane and I ended up in a crumpled heap embedded in the rocks, the airplane manufacturer is no more responsible for that than the Honda Motor Company would be if I perished after intentionally driving my car over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Please do not sue anyone that you or your attorney might think is in some way responsible for my passing.  While I have great respect for many legal professionals, I think that the best judge of who might be at fault if I'm involved in a fatal accident is my fellow pilots - along with the professionals at the NTSB, who don't have an interest in anything but getting to the truth.  If you suspect my demise is the fault of somebody other than myself, I suggest you ask some of my flying buddies.  They will tell you the unvarnished truth.  While it might make you feel better to "blame" someone else (even if they have no real responsibility for what happened), you should know that when I go flying, I accept responsibility for the risks it involves.  Of course, I don't expect the engine to stop while I'm crossing the mountains, and I don't expect the airframe to crumple and the wings to fall off as I'm making a turn.  But I know that there's a chance something might go wrong, even something very bad.  If it does, I'll do my best to deal with it one way or another, because that's part of the deal we pilots make every time we leave the ground.

I don't want lawsuits filed against those who merely manufactured and sold the products that allowed me to enjoy flying.  Unfortunately, this happens routinely, and it's one of the things that makes flying increasingly expensive, more and more complicated, and less enjoyable as time goes by.  Lawsuits of this nature may be understandable, but I don't believe they are a good thing, since the juries composed of non-pilots that ultimately render decisions in these cases often do not really have a complete understanding of the context of an accident (no matter how well-intentioned they might be).

I cannot speak for others, and every grieving family must do what they think is right.  I'm not going to offer an opinion on any specific accident, since I'm not really qualified to do that.  But it's clear to me that after a tragic airplane accident, as sure as the sun will rise, you can bet that the grieving survivors of a deceased pilot will look for someone, anyone, to blame for the accident.  In some cases (very few, IMHO), there might actually be some blame to go around.  But the unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of serious airplane accidents are caused primarily by "pilot error" -- and that includes making bad decisions.  It surely must be a very bitter thing to try to accept, when you have lost a loved one suddenly and violently, that the departed is actually the one who's responsible for their fate.  I'm sure that "insult to injury" doesn't even come close to capturing what that must feel like, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one in an accident.

But I can say that if I fly into a rock, I am probably the one who should be blamed.  If you must blame someone or something else besides me, blame the rock.  But please, leave the airplane makers and other hardware manufacturers out of it.  When I go, I'd prefer that those who are left behind just uncorked a nice bottle of wine and passed it around, remembering something good that I may have done, and leave the lawsuits out of it.  Please.

Good post.

Tony
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Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly.
(Walmart warning label 1995)

davidh

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2007, 09:49:39 PM »
Very well said and with your permission I'm going to borrow much of what you've said and put it with my will.
Sure - it's on the internet, so it's been released out into the wild and therefore is now beyond anyone's control (but thanks for askin'  ;)).

FWIW, I showed this post to my wife.  She gave me a weird look but ultimately shrugged and said OK.
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

zero.one.victor

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 07:45:54 AM »
  The two worst possible days for a pilot:
1) Knowing that today's flight will be his last.
2) NOT knowing that today's flight will be his last.

T Covey

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2007, 10:17:42 AM »
David I though I was the only one that thought about this...

Very good read...



This is what I wrote for my Family....

I was asked why I risk flying in a small plane....

Here  is my feelings on it.



=====================================================
Privilege of the last Flight.



With the pull of power, breathing fire, she calls for my attention.

Breaking the grip of mother earth she’s aimed for the heavens.

The daily trials on the ground left behind, she becomes my Escape, clears my sole and my mind.

For in this vessel is where I find my god, sharing the view of his Creation is my privilege of flight.

For to tickle the clouds, dance on the wind, face the mountains glory, and find the rivers end.

Is to fill a dream not many can do, and free the spirit from its earthly restraints.

For if it is planned today not return, my hangar gone empty, my call sign not heard.

It means that the beacon signal is strong, a direct coarse has been plotted, and my clearance received.

For it’s a pilots dream, a tail wind points him west, trailing the suns last stubborn rays, and to turn on final for one last time, the velvet touch of the tires on to the run way of time.

To depart this life be it in a dynamic way, to be full of life and to fly my last day.

Is to end my existence with dignity, and pride. My final destination checked on my flight plan of life.

I will not be gone, just on a flight, so look to the sky for there I will be, that one ray of sunlight that gives you warmth and catches your eye.

And when you arrive at that gate in the heavens. Look to the nearest hangar and you will find me there, critiquing the student pilot’s landings from that old green chair. 

Old friends will be gathered, hangar flying will be found. As the log books entry marks the passing of time and describes my privilege of flight.



















To my Wife and daughters, remember me as devoted and true, and honest to all parts of my life. For we don’t know when the end will come, or how it will be. So follow your dreams what ever they are, just be the best you can be. Love every day of your life as if it was the last.  Remember as the years fall off into memories the past is who you are. The future is who you will be.



Love DAD.



============================================================================

By


Todd ( ok don't laugh AL, I am not a writer ) Covey



I too have had long discussions as to the fact that my family will not bring law suit for my actions, or my failures.

This is not what I want. For ultimately I am a Pilot and its my command!

« Last Edit: December 05, 2007, 10:29:33 AM by T Covey »

davidh

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2007, 12:04:34 PM »
Well said, Todd.  Thanks for sharing.
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

wilyoung

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2007, 12:10:03 PM »
Well said! This should be published in every aviation publication you can get it in. AOPA should have it as flier for every Pilot to give to their families, friends, and anyone else concerned about their flying. It says it all and says it very eloquently.
Thanks
Wil

None of us will live forever, try as we might.  Eventually, no matter how carefully we manage our diets, exercise routines, and flying activities, one day we are each going to shuffle off into the great beyond.  I'm not looking forward to that day, but I accept that it's going to happen.

If I had my choice, when my time comes to mingle with the twinkling stars, I'd depart this world peacefully and without much fanfare, comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.  But since I don't spend my entire life at home, laying comfortably in bed -- and since I engage in  a wide variety of activities that involve some risk to life and limb (flying, scuba diving, driving, walking down the street, etc.) -- there's a chance that my demise might come in a manner and at a time that's not ideal.

I enjoy flying.  I wish I was able to do it more often, but work, family responsibilities, weather, and a million other little things keep me on the ground more than I would like.  Odds are, my end will be a pretty ordinary one, without much drama or spectacle.  Still, I recognize that there's also a possibility that I might end up "going west" at the end of a flight.  If I do, I'd like my grieving heirs to keep a few things in mind.  And I'd like to ask them not to do something.

If I do head off to the sweet hereafter as a result of an airplane accident, please keep in mind that at least I got to go out enjoying what I had been doing (except maybe for the last few seconds -- and who knows, I might even try to enjoy that once the outcome became inevitable).  You can grieve for me if you must, and I guess I'd appreciate the fact that you would miss me, but I would rather that you did your best to be happy and go on with life, despite my unexpected departure from the picture.  I'm sure that the world would suck a little bit more if I were gone, but there are plenty of other good things happening on the planet, and I'd hope my survivors could do their best to get their lives back to normal and try to enjoy some of those things.

I specifically do not want my family and friends to blame anyone or anything for my demise if the cause of my departure from this mortal coil was something I did myself.  Friends and family, please read that again.

I try to be very careful when I go flying.  I stay away from bad weather, I do my best to keep the plane well-maintained, I try not to exceed the airplane's capabilities.  And I try not to do anything so stupid that it's going to hurt me or anyone else.  I think I'm pretty careful.  But I am (or was...) human.  I am capable of making mistakes.  Usually my mistakes are small things, minor embarrassments and nothing more.  But people do make more serious mistakes, and some of them pay with their lives.

If someday I screw up bigtime, and it causes me to go gently (or not so gently) into that good night, I accept the blame -- and the responsibility -- for what happened.

If I fly my plane into the side of a mountain, it's probably not the mountain's fault.  It's probably not the government's fault, the airplane manufacturer's fault, or anybody else's fault either.  It's probably my fault.  Yes, you should blame me, and nobody else.  Heaven knows, I've been blamed for plenty of other screw-ups before.  Toothpaste tubes left uncapped, toilet seats left in the upright position, dirty clothes left in heaps on the floor - come on, blaming me for this one really shouldn't be that much of a leap!  If you simply must blame somebody or something, you can blame bad luck, fate, and gravity. But that's about where the list should end.

Please, don't blame the company that built the plane 40+ years ago.  Although I have no great love for that company (or any other), people blame them all the time for all sorts of things that are far, far beyond their control. They didn't build the plane with the expectation that I would fly it into a mountainside (or whatever bad thing might have happened to me).  If the plane and I ended up in a crumpled heap embedded in the rocks, the airplane manufacturer is no more responsible for that than the Honda Motor Company would be if I perished after intentionally driving my car over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Please do not sue anyone that you or your attorney might think is in some way responsible for my passing.  While I have great respect for many legal professionals, I think that the best judge of who might be at fault if I'm involved in a fatal accident is my fellow pilots - along with the professionals at the NTSB, who don't have an interest in anything but getting to the truth.  If you suspect my demise is the fault of somebody other than myself, I suggest you ask some of my flying buddies.  They will tell you the unvarnished truth.  While it might make you feel better to "blame" someone else (even if they have no real responsibility for what happened), you should know that when I go flying, I accept responsibility for the risks it involves.  Of course, I don't expect the engine to stop while I'm crossing the mountains, and I don't expect the airframe to crumple and the wings to fall off as I'm making a turn.  But I know that there's a chance something might go wrong, even something very bad.  If it does, I'll do my best to deal with it one way or another, because that's part of the deal we pilots make every time we leave the ground.

I don't want lawsuits filed against those who merely manufactured and sold the products that allowed me to enjoy flying.  Unfortunately, this happens routinely, and it's one of the things that makes flying increasingly expensive, more and more complicated, and less enjoyable as time goes by.  Lawsuits of this nature may be understandable, but I don't believe they are a good thing, since the juries composed of non-pilots that ultimately render decisions in these cases often do not really have a complete understanding of the context of an accident (no matter how well-intentioned they might be).

I cannot speak for others, and every grieving family must do what they think is right.  I'm not going to offer an opinion on any specific accident, since I'm not really qualified to do that.  But it's clear to me that after a tragic airplane accident, as sure as the sun will rise, you can bet that the grieving survivors of a deceased pilot will look for someone, anyone, to blame for the accident.  In some cases (very few, IMHO), there might actually be some blame to go around.  But the unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of serious airplane accidents are caused primarily by "pilot error" -- and that includes making bad decisions.  It surely must be a very bitter thing to try to accept, when you have lost a loved one suddenly and violently, that the departed is actually the one who's responsible for their fate.  I'm sure that "insult to injury" doesn't even come close to capturing what that must feel like, and my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one in an accident.

But I can say that if I fly into a rock, I am probably the one who should be blamed.  If you must blame someone or something else besides me, blame the rock.  But please, leave the airplane makers and other hardware manufacturers out of it.  When I go, I'd prefer that those who are left behind just uncorked a nice bottle of wine and passed it around, remembering something good that I may have done, and leave the lawsuits out of it.  Please.
Wil
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zero.one.victor

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2007, 06:10:11 PM »
  Unfortunately, the survivors don't always go along with the dearly departed's last wishes. Witness how many wills are bitterly contested by surviving offspring, spouses, etc.  Combine anger & sorrow over their loss and a desire for the almighty buck, and wah-lah!-- another million dollar lawsuit filed over a pilot's flying death. Sad but true.

Eric

davidh

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2007, 06:30:30 PM »
Maybe so, but at least I will have made my wishes crystal clear.  Not much one can do beyond that.

Maybe I should add a little carrot-and-stick?...

Quote
PS: If there is an afterlife, and you end up suing the pants off of somebody even though I specifically asked you not to...well, if I have any pull in that great beyond, you're gonna have some 'splainin' to do...  ;D

Just kidding.

Well, mostly.   ::)
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

JeffD

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2008, 09:46:36 AM »

Quote
PS: If there is an afterlife, and



If???? :o :o :o   David, we need to talk? ;) ;) ;)
Jeff Davis
Kennewick WA

Jim L

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2008, 10:49:36 AM »
Uh oh. the great debate starts.  :D
Renter
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mculver

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2008, 08:02:07 PM »
Great letter! Just published it as an article on www.popav.com, with a link back here.

Mike

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 01:15:40 PM »
Every so often, I go back and read this missive...great stuff.
Daryl Hickman, CFI

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Re: A message to my heirs following my untimely demise
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2012, 06:17:07 PM »
Excellent post Dave and pretty much what I would have written for myself, if I were so eloquent.  Instead, I'll agree with you and plagerize it in my note to my family.  **grins**

We all make mistakes and we all hope to live through them.  I figured that having survived retiring from the Army that all that was behind me and I'd go peacefully into the night in my sleep or crossing the street to pick up the mail.  Who could have foreseen that finally, at 58yo, I'd get my pilots certificate and get to finally do what I've loved and dreamt about since I was a very young boy, watching the planes in the pattern at Eastgate as each pilot did what I longed and ached to do.

Like you, I hope I don't screw up doing the one thing I love so much.  But if I do, so be it.  And I hope when I arrive in heaven God will let me have the aircraft of my choice so I can continue to do what I love so much...  FLY!
Brian ~ Pirate Pilot
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