News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

More marvelous mentors

I must tell you about my marvelous mentor Pat Gibson, flight instructor, airplane doctor, and Fixed Base Operator (FBO) of the Bend Airport.

There isn’t room enough in this paper for me to share all the events in my life he helped me get through, from purchasing my first Cub to getting me to my FAA commercial, single-engine pilot rating.

He went with me on my first cross-country flight. We had gassed up my old Korean War-surplus Piper Cub, and Pat had settled in the canvas back seat to watch. I was up front preparing to do all the flight work, and away we went into the wild blue yonder. About an hour into the flight he suddenly smacked me on the back of my head with his chart board and shouted, “Where did you say we’re going?”

Rubbing my sore spot, I shouted back, “Weed, California!”

To which he responded, “OK, but we’re going to have to gas up in Burns!”

Throughout my entire flying career I was always lost. Except for the time I spent most of the day in a World War II Schweitzer training sailplane achieving my five-hour soaring badge.

At 4 hours, 45 minutes into the flight I was at 12,000 feet above sea level (ASL) over Brothers. I couldn’t believe it, but a huge, adult female golden eagle pulled up alongside me, and I thought she winked at me and shouted, “Nice going!”

In those wonderful life-changing times, Phil Brogan asked me one day if I wanted to accompany him to Camp Hancock where he had been asked to give a “Sermon on Red Hill” — a lecture on Central Oregon geology he put together for campers and staff.

Anything Phil suggested to me I accepted — wholeheartedly and immediately — and away we went. I had no idea what Camp Hancock was, or where it was. But I soon discovered it was operated by The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), and located right near the John Day River close to Clarno.

What a trip! All the way from Bend to Hancock Phil was busy pointing out volcanic and ice age wonders along the route.

In the time Phil and I were there, I fell in love with everything about science, geology, education and OMSI. Phil and I did a picture page for The Bulletin about the camp, which eventually led to my becoming the staff naturalist, teacher and bus-driver for the museum for six magnificent years.

During those wonderful years I had one job that was my responsibility and mine alone: On the last Saturday of each month I would take the old OMSI Ford bus, the “Space Cruiser,” fill it with children and a few adults and deliver them to the train station in Portland.

Once everyone was onboard the train I’d drive on up to Woodland Washington, greet the train as it pulled into the station, reload the kids and adults and then hustle on up to Ariel, Washington, where we would enter the land of the Pacific Northwest Indians inside the longhouse of legend keeper and woodcarver, Chief Lalooska.

Little did I know how much that masterful storyteller would impact my life, and those near and dear to me.

Part III of Jim Anderson’s retrospective will appear in next week’s edition of The Nugget.


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