The early '70s were a tumultuous time for many people in the United States. For one young man, the Christmas gift he received in December of 1974 was an early out from his commitment to the United States Air Force so that he could enjoy the holidays with his family.
From there it was back to college on a full-time basis with the intention of applying to med school and as a back up, working towards completion of his flying credentials in case becoming a doctor was not an option.
The book opens on a cross-country flight where the fledgling pilot was building flight hours on a weekend trip to visit his long-time girlfriend. Pushed along by a stronger-than-forecast tailwind, he arrives confident in his abilities. The return trip is a battle against the elements with more than enough time left over for consideration of alternative career choices. By the end of the first chapter, the plucky airman has conquered substantial odds with both the help of his new-found skills and more luck than one person should be allowed to have.
On returning to college after his time in service to his country, the aspiring doctor's counselor paired him with a real doctor who was willing and able to show him the day-to-day life of a physician after that physician received schooling and accreditation. It was important for the young student to understand how the physician made the diagnosis, the method of treatment and the care of the patient while he or she was undergoing treatment.
For a time, this young man rose early to attend early morning briefings at a local hospital before biking over to the university for college classes on a full-time basis. The afternoon might include going on rounds with his mentor and then going out to the airport for flight lessons that would lead to a commercial ticket from the FAA, a totally different track than that of the medical world. A dry as it might sound, there were many people in this young man's orbit willing to provide inspiration on a daily basis. Many professors at the University of Montana had done their post-docs in other locations, but had chosen to live in Missoula because of the life-style it afforded. It was the same for many in the medical world. At the airport, the pilots were of a hardy breed that flying in the mountains seemed to engender. The manager of the flight school took our young hero under his wing and instructed him in the manner he had learned as chief pilot of a commuter airline.
When the young man found himself with a few hours of unscheduled time early his first summer, he did the only logical thing he could think of and applied for a job as an operating room technician at a local hospital. It allowed him a chance to mingle with other professionals in the field, practice his people skills and watch a limited amount of surgery between tasks. It was complete and utter immersion in both worlds.
For a break in his cluttered life, the young pilot invited a friend along to fly into a small airstrip on the edge of the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness. That flight was an adventure and a lesson about perceptions and abilities. The book tells other stories of aviation excitement and how a careful pilot might need to make decisions and take actions that are outside the realm of normal and expected responses.
Tragedy struck and the young man took a break from his newly minted job as a flight instructor to fly as an observer for the Montana State Forest. The plan was to perform a simple job and empty his mind and his life of complexities. The goal was to make the decision of where his path would take him from that point forward.
Because the State Forest pilots were bored with flying at that time in their careers, they asked the young man to take the controls on many occasions.
On a low-level buzz of a Forest Service lookout, our hero got a tiny peek into the future.

Published: Brian Christofferson on
ISBN: 9781465901446
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