Dr. Smithies talks about what’s in his first pilot’s logbook, which details his first official flying lessons.
But I do have my first pilot’s logbook, and that’s dated from a period of
June 18th in 1963…so in 1963, I was 38 years old. This is, oddly enough, is me taking some lessons in 1963, in Canada, at Toronto Island Airport. And that arose because of, what I might say, unsatisfactory science. I, at that time had moved from Toronto University, where I’d been at my first job, and was in University of Wisconsin. My collaborators, Gordon Dixon and George Connell were still in Toronto, and I went to visit Gordon Dixon, to learn how to do what was possible in those days in terms of determining the composition of peptides in a protein. And so I went to learn this technique with Gordon, and I found I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like what you had to do. I didn’t feel like doing this sort of work for the rest of my life, or the next part of my life. Why do something that you don’t enjoy, so I thought, oh no, I’m not going to do this. So, I’d already got to Toronto and had some leave of absence, as it were. And I think a leave of absence from my first wife was partly responsible, but I’m not quite sure at this point. But anyway, I was in Toronto, so I thought, well, I might as well do something interesting, and I learned in, somewhere or other that there was a little airport on Toronto Island. That’s right next to Toronto, the island, and in sight of all the big buildings and everything, and separated from the mainland as it were, in Lake Ontario, by a little channel. So there was a ferry there to get to Toronto Island Airport, and I went to Toronto Island Airport, and said, I’m interested in learning to fly. What can you do? And they said, oh yes, by all means, we can accommodate you, and they gave me a logbook, which is dated 1963, June 18th. And the entrances are quite clear, that the first flight was in a Cessna 140. And I had a couple flights in the Cessna with Howard Carter. And then, in a Fleet 80. However, the person who gave me the lessons there was Paul J Regan, and he had the idea that you should indoctrinate a pupil very dramatically, right away, which I would never do myself as an instructor, but he, I remember we did a spin, which was quite startling to a pupil at that stage. It’s too early to do a spin, but we did a spin and I remember that. I don’t remember being frightened or anything, but I know that it wasn’t really the right sort of way to instruct. So I had several lessons with Paul Regan about, I think. And then, so on and so forth, until by June 27th of 1963, I’d accumulated quite a nice little bit of instruction. I don’t have a specific total, but it looks like it was about 20 or 30 hours. And that was the end of the flying in Toronto, because I went back to Madison. [PAUSE] And there, I found there was a local airport at Middleton, about five miles from the middle of Madison, called the Morey Airport, because it had founded, as it were, by Howard Morey, who was a longtime early flier, and flew in the days of Lindbergh. And I see here that my last flight from Toronto
was June 27th, and July 6th, I’m at Morey, familiarizing with the 140, and patterns, and takeoff, and landings, because after all, I have already some hours. And the first entry that is important there is, I flew with Roland Mack, “Rolly Mac,” on July 10th, for about an hour. Rolly Mac approved my first flight as a solo flight, which I did on that day. So, then the requirement is that second instructor or somebody else recommend, for the license then, and so I have the first entrance, flying with Field Morey on October (August) 4th, 1963. So now I’m beginning to be able to be first pilot. So that said, the date of the examination was 26th of July, 1963, when I first became, as it were, a legal pilot.