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Francine the Pilot

Of all the remarkable things Francine achieved, becoming a pilot was the most satisfying to her. While she had no qualms about flying on commercial planes, she had a fear of small planes and helicopters. I use to tease her by asking, every time we were around plane rides, If she wanted to try it. I figured she would keep that attitude for life.

In the late fall of 1980 Francine had a breast cancer scare. It had gotten down to the point that they were going to go into a lump in her breast and if it was cancer they were going to do a mastectomy. We were so frightened but kept trying to cheer each other up. As we were waiting for her to go into the operating room an X-ray technician who knew us came out and told us not to worry as he didnít think it was cancer. Clinging to straws we believed him and he was right. The lump was benign.

To celebrate we took a trip to Las Vegas. We drove down to Hoover Dam and saw it. As we were driving back to Vegas there was a helicopter pad giving rides over the dam. From force of habit I teased and ask her if she wanted to take a helicopter ride. She totally surprised me by saying yes. She said the cancer scare had made her see things in a different light and was ready to try new things. So we took the ride and she loved it.

Pushing my luck, when we got back to Las Vegas, I ask her to take a ride into the Grand Canyon the next day. She agreed and we made the reservations. The plane was an 8 or 10 seat twin engine plane. The pilot loaded us with an eye toward weight distribution. As Francine was the lightest he had her sit in the co-pilots seat. At that time they could still fly down into the canyon and it was an amazing flight. We landed and had lunch and then flew back to Vegas and then home.

We had only been home a few months when Francine told me one day she and a friend, Lynn, were going to the airport to see about taking flying lessons. I figured Lynn was the one interested, but when they got back it was Francine who announced she was taking lessons.

They had gone to Lowe Aviation and ask who the best instructor was. They were told that the best instructor was Frank Dean but that he had quit instructing. He was out on the flight line so Francine went out and talked him into teaching her. As everybody knows Francine could be very persuasive.



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