Monday, November 14, 2016
by Jay D. Mills
Bill Gillig was a line boy and pilot at the flight service at Strother Field. I was flying at the time and rented Cessna 172 and 182 aircraft from Strother Field. The flight service had a contract to fly high priority repair parts from the Wichita Airport to the GE jet engine repair facility at Strother. By hanging around the airport I would sometimes get a "free" flight by taking a company airplane to Wichita to pick up parts, and then returning quickly.
Bill Gillig was about my age, early 20s, and we got into all kinds of flying mischief together. In addition to the GE repair facility, the flying service also had a contract with the Winfield Courier to deliver the newspaper by air. No, not to individual customers but to the paperboys in the various small towns to the East of Winfield. Cedar Vale was one of the towns that they served. The small Cessna 150 would fly over a field at the edge of town and push a rolled up bundle of newspapers out of the side window as they flew over.
Flying the paper route was how I also got some extra "free" flying hours. Often, Bill and I would fly the route together. They had a 'low altitude' permit to fly as low as 300 ft. However, Bill & I considered 300 ft. to be the upper limit and often hopped over fences in the open pastures of eastern Cowley County. My Guardian Angels must have worked overtime to protect me from myself.
Some of the other crazy stuff that we did in airplanes scares me to even think about it today. There is a saying; "There are bold pilots, and there are old pilots; but there are no old, bold pilots."