Mike Mason was born in Toledo, Ohio, and grew up less than a mile from the Toledo Express Airport, just to the right of the final approach path to runway 25. He used to ride his bike to the overpass on Eber Road that overlooked the runway threshold and watch planes land for hours. One of his biggest thrills was to catch a glimpse of the white-helmeted head of an air national guard pilot as he landed his F-84F Thunderstreak with a puff of blue-gray smoke curling up from each main gear. He started flying lessons at 16 and eventually earned a commercial license with SMEL, instrument, and CFI ratings. He also has an aircraft dispatcher ticket. He has worked as a CFI, dispatcher/flight follower, ramp agent and aircraft refueler. These were all fun, but none of them ever earned him much of a living. To feed his family, he worked for many years in health care and education, both much less enjoyable.