LETTERS: Never give up

To the editor:

With my wife stuck in a lockdown Alzheimer’s facility, and all the negative news on TV and radio, with the editor’s permission, I would like, as I write this on Father’s Day, about a story my father told us young kids that we have always remembered.

Shortly after World War II, my father started a flying school which in those days was regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). He started alone but later hired two other Certified Flight Instructors (CFI).

This new young man showed up to take flying instructions, and my father gave him to one of his new CFIs. Bear in mind many of these new CFIs were trained by the military, but regulated by the CAA. My dad mentioned this as some times a military-trained pilot goes by the book and needs to be reminded there is no rank involved here, and each student is treated with respect and understanding.

Well, it seems this new student was having a very difficult time learning how to fly and his ex-military instructor wasn’t very patient with him. Of course, yelling at the poor kid didn’t help during instructions. The instructor told my father, “This kid will never learn how to fly and I am through trying to teach him.”

So, being the gentleman my dad was, he decided to take the student on and see if he could teach him how to fly. Well, according to Dad, this kid’s skills for flying were nil. His eye, hand and feet coordination were very bad. In fact, after many hours of almost being killed teaching this young man, my dad told him he was sorry but, “you are just not equipped and skilled to be a pilot.”

My dad told the other instructor and others the sad news, but was surprised when the young man came into the pilot’s lounge and stated, “So, I gave it a try but now I’m off to Hollywood to become a movie star.”

Well, of course, everybody wished him well, but later laughed at his statement, saying he will probably be as good at acting as he was flying, and all had a good laugh.

Fast forward 20 years, and lo and behold, that young man that tried to learn how to fly did indeed make his mark in Hollywood. After a few small bit parts, he made his fame starring as Col. Hogan in the TV comedy series, Hogan’s Heroes. That young man was Bob Crane.

Happy belated Father’s Day to all out there.

Frank Slason
Somerville

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