A Personal Statement
I believe in one form or another most people either seek to find their identity, or else already know who they are. As for me, I am an engineer. I am not a theoretical engineer, but a hands-on person who can look at a problem and usually synthesize a solution. I would rather use my scientific knowledge to create than to labor in a laboratory, attempting to find the next big discovery in a given field. I derive much pleasure in life by designing and constructing devices, systems, and support software. Basically, I create; I design and I build. To me, in my own way, I am an artist. Perhaps I am not an artist in a conventional sense, but my lab creations are to me aesthetic as well as functional.
From my earliest memories, I have loved technologies of many kinds. I hesitate to confess my early childhood likes, as it seems to brand me as completely abnormal. In my childhood home, which I now own, there hangs a painting of my earliest toys. To be seen in this painting is a 50s-style sock monkey, and a pegboard with rubber hammer for driving round pegs into round holes. That of course is nothing unusual for a child of the era. But, looking further you see a screwdriver, pliers, flashlight, and of all things a fan blade from a heating system. I have always been fascinated with fluid flow systems—turbines, propellers, and fans. I had apparently expressed a desire for a fan blade assembly, so my parents gave me a cracked and vibrating one that had been removed from a heater at my mother’s store.
Most children hate having the TV go out. In my childhood, if such happened, the TV repairman actually made a house call with a tube caddy full of vacuum tube replacements. If the problem was worse, then the TV had to be hauled in to the shop. As I child I loved to see the TV fail, as I knew the repairman would come to the house, and I could get a ringside seat behind the TV to ask questions, as I pondered the depths of the old black and white set. This began around the age of 3.
My father would go to a local radio and TV repair shop and pick up discarded tube radio assemblies for me. I would spend hours digging through the back of the old sets with a pair of diagonal cutters removing every component I could find, and lining them up on the floor. To me, they were treasures. I found out only later that those parts were resistors, capacitors, and some assorted other components.
My other great passion in life for many years has been flying. I learned to fly as a teenager, and I have owned a plane for most of my years since. As with many endeavors of my life, I approached aviation in a far from usual way. The goal of most pilots is to learn to fly, get checked out by some local fixed based operator, and fly around looking at the local flora and fauna, or else go on cross country trips with family or friends.
Initially, I did not fully understand what I wanted from flying; I just liked the whole concept of aviation as it was presented in 1968. But, very shortly, I found myself looking at the planes that once required true boldness and a sense of adventure — often old vintage planes in which you could do daring maneuvers, the stuff of aviation legend. I would visualize myself at the controls of an old biplane as my father had flown, and long to gain the skills that others in a more modern day have bypassed.
All my life I have desired to be literally one with my machines, no matter what I happen to be controlling. After many years, I recently came to a self awareness that I had not seen before—dots that I had never really connected.
Bix Beiderbecke, one of the greats of jazz, the only one in my opinion to rival Louis Armstrong, was once asked to play a piece the same way he had played it at a different venue. He said he couldn’t, because he did not feel the same way as when he previously played it. Beiderbecke could barely read music, yet he was a great musician, one of America’s all time best. His instrument was an extension of his thoughts and feelings. His music came from inside, not written on a page to be recreated one note at a time like a player piano.
My flying to me is similar; it is from the inside. I am instrument rated, but have never wanted to fly on instruments. I do not desire to simply follow some procedure and grade myself on how close my actions were to the optimal. I want to take control of the airplane and do what seems natural, whatever it is at the time that allows me to attain the true feelings of flight.
I have said to some that if no one said anything else about me after my passing, it would be adequate to just say that “He was a good stick and rudder man.” That mastery of the plane by feel, much the same as the improvisations of early jazz musicians is my highest desire in aviation. When I fly an airshow performance, I seldom know what maneuvers I will perform in advance, not even one or two maneuvers ahead. Although this drives some announcers off the deep end, I prefer allowing my maneuvers to be natural, flowing, and non-choreographed. Thus, it is understandable as to why I don’t fly competition!
Another passion in my life is writing, as well as telling stories. I have heard many a hangar story, mostly exaggerations by pilots that were not there to experience what was being told, or pilots that just outright lied to hold the attention of the listener. I well remember my friend Marion Cole and how he would in many cases simply walk away from such stories. If Marion told a story, he was always precise and extremely careful to not embellish. To me great stories, either written or spoken, should be cherished as an asset to both the teller and listener. Through my experiences as a somewhat unconventional pilot, and through many years of flying airshow performances, I have accumulated many a story to tell. Some are absolutely priceless!
In the early 2000s, I became interested in writing fiction. All my life I have been a writer of technical materials, but I felt that my background in science, engineering, and aviation laid an excellent foundation for writing science-based fiction. I have written a novel of well over 400 pages, and I may from time to time share, “The Goliath Paradigm” with readers. I have also delved into the short story. A few years ago, a book agent attempted to place my novel with Miramax, but failed. Perhaps someday I will modify my work to make it more adaptable to a movie script.
I hope you enjoy this site, and love to hear your thoughts. I also love to find old friends that I have for some reason lost contact. If you have ideas to improve my website, please share.
Gary R. Boucher