What is the value of aviation, in particular, military aviation, as it relates to the rest of one’s working or vocational life? That is the question that I want to examine in this blog.
Doctor Aviation has been on vacation. It is good to get away. Our family joins two others each year for a camping trip in the panhandle of Idaho. No lights, no phone, no motor cars, not a single luxury (as the Gilligan’s Island song goes) for a week. It is wonderful. Actually, we just have no electricity and no running water.
While camping we often pop by a local rustic resort to pick up some items. It is there that it caught my eye. A picture and a propeller. There, next to the bathroom (also a welcomed sight), was a picture of a naval aviator. The caption below read, “George Hill was a naval aviator and instructor during WWII. He used the propeller as a visual aid”.
Following World War II George returned to Spokane, Washington. However, life in the city was not for him. He dreamt of his days as a boy vacationing with his family on Priest Lake in Idaho. So, George set out for Priest Lake and bought a cabin. He slowly added on to the property over the years, building a first-class lodge with multiple cabins on the grounds. In 1954, he married Lois and together they raised a family and built a resort that generations have found to be a quiet respite from the busy pace of life. To visit Hill’s Resort (as it is called) is like looking at something right out of a movie (https://www.hillsresort.com/).
George Hill’s story mirrors so many I have heard or read about. Tom Brokaw called the men/boys who fought in World War II, “The Greatest Generation”. I recently viewed a World War II documentary on those that built pontoon bridges for the landing at Normandy. Two brothers promised themselves that if they survived World War II, they would come back and buy a farm together. One brother survived, the other is buried at the cemetery at Normandy. The surviving brother returned to the US, bought the farm he and his brother dreamed about. He married, raised a family, and reminded his offspring often, “Freedom is not free”. The men who fought World War II, by and large, wanted to come back to the US and make something of themselves. I suspect that George Hill was no exception
So, what does this have to do with Aviation? Charles Lindbergh credited the self-discipline that he learned via military aviation training for many of his later civilian successes. Aviation training in general, and military aviation, in particular, teaches one to be strategic in thinking, methodical in planning and to be disciplined in execution. These are all skills that would help one build a family, business, or a resort.
So here is to George Hill and all the other military aviators who have gone on to make a positive contribution to society, in part due to their military aviation training.