Viewfinder: Pilot’s refurbished plane takes flight
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015
VIDALIA — Mike Thompson gets in the small cockpit of his 1951 Mooney M18C “Mite” at the Concordia Parish Airport and revs the engine, which is still young with only 1,000 hours of flight time.
It is the first time in six years that the single engine, single seat plane will have been taxied around an airport, driven down a runway and lifted off into the air.
In that time, Thompson has completely disassembled and reassembled the plane while giving it a fresh paint job.
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“When I first got the plane, I thought, ‘Six months and I will be flying,’” he said. “But you get busy and life happens, and here I am after six years and six months of working on it every day, I’m almost ready to go.”
But for Thompson, how long the refurbishment work took doesn’t matter; this is exactly what he loves about being a pilot.
And that love began years ago.
“When I was 5 years old, I got a ride in an old J-3 Cub,” he said. “And I was impressed to say the least.”
Growing up in North Platte, Neb., after that first flight, Thompson and his brother, Dan Thompson, would regularly ride their bikes over to the airport and watch the planes lift off and land.
“And we started building models of all kinds of planes,” he said. “It’s not too different from what I am doing now.”
Though Thompson moved away and became a commercial photographer in Los Angeles, becoming a pilot was something he always wanted to do.
“I had a little extra money, so I decided to take flying lessons,” he said.
It was 1969, and Thompson was on his way to being a pilot, but before he even got his license, he found himself the proud owner of a Taylorcraft Aircraft he purchased for $350.
He and a friend started doing their own work on the plane and his love only grew from there.
“It is about the sense of accomplishment after figuring out all the different details and the freedom you feel upon getting airborne,” he said.