Monday, October 1, 2012
Test pilot found God in the midst of tragedy
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- Life Magazine called him one of the top five test pilots in the U.S. His illustrious career extended into his eighties, well beyond the time most retire from the grueling physical demands of high-performance jets.
“I knew what I wanted to be at the age of five,” says Russell O’Quinn, the internationally recognized test pilot and aircraft designer. As a child during the Great Depression, his father decided to re-roof their house, which was under the final approach to a local airport.
Since Russell’s mother was away, his father decided on a creative way to look after the lad while he worked. “He took a hammer and nailed the seat of my pants to the roof,” Russell recalls. “A 10-penny nail is a very effective babysitter.” He spent an afternoon watching planes fly overhead, which began his love affair with flying.
As a teen, he begged his parents for flying lessons, but they were afraid of flying and refused. When Russell got a job at the airport as a “grease monkey,” he worked out a clever trade. He received free flying lessons on Saturday mornings in exchange for other work. “I agreed not to spend any money on flying lessons and I didn’t,” he notes. “I was learning to be devious and legalistic at an early age.”
Eighteen months later, he got his license to fly. “The mistake I made was the day I got my private license I decided to celebrate by buzzing the house,” he recalls. “Somehow my parents knew who it was.” Grounded for six months, he continued to press the issue with his parents until they relented and allowed him to continue flying.
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