Whatever else he was, Gill Robb Wilson was most definitely the inspiration for one awkward, gawky, Midwestern teenager who wanted to be a pilot more than anything in the world. Recently I was rereading his poems and the one about Christmas in “The Airman’s World” reminded me of my best ever Christmas flight… a flight where I wasn’t even the pilot.
As usual, I’d been running 30 minutes out of each tank when, about an hour and a half into the flight—you guessed it—the engine quit. Same drill with fuel selector, carb heat and mixture and, again, it started right up. What in the hell was going on this time? Both wing root fuel gauges were pegged at more than three quarters full… but they were even and they weren’t bouncing and I’d learned that was ominous.