Friday's Fabulous Flyer!
Marjorie Bicknell Johnson
PILOT HITS TREES!
And Nobody wants to fly with her....
She's a pilot and a writer, and and all around inspiration! Wait until you read her story. I met Marjorie at the 99 banquet in Palo Alto last month. I asked her to send me her story, and what a story it is. And wait until you find out where her inspiration to write came from. Yes... she is an author!
"When my husband retired, the first thing he did was to buy an airplane. He took me out to dinner and presented me with a blank card that pictured red roses. Inside was a set of aircraft keys and the message, “Come, fly away with me.”
I learned to fly in 1991 at Palo Alto Airport. When I had only one more hour left to complete my private pilot training, I decided to practice soft field take-offs, something I had never done solo. Everything went wrong that day in the Cessna 172: I uprooted a tree at the Palo Alto Golf Course.
I remember nothing about it, so it couldn’t have happened, right? The FAA assigned me 10 hours of stall recovery practice—10 hours IN stalls, not counting flights to and from the practice areas. My flight instructor quit, and no one else wanted me.
I finally found an instructor who liked acrobatics. I learned to recover from a stall in any configuration, including inverted flight. When I got my private pilot’s license, I had 260 hours in my logbook. I joined Santa Clara Valley 99s the next day and attended every function for several years. I have served as chapter chairman, vice chairman, and secretary, and several stints as a committee chairperson. Most recently, I was chapter co-vice chairman for two years.
The picture of me next to a Cessna 172 was taken on the day I got my instrument rating—I felt like I had conquered the world. I don’t have a picture of me with the 172 that crashed—it went to the aircraft bone yard. I joined Santa Clara Valley 99s the day after I got my license. One of my daughters is a pilot, and so is her son (my grandson).
My husband and I owned three Mooneys. I appear with each of them. We flew out of Palo Alto Airport for twenty years. We crossed the US several times, flew to the tip of Baja, and to Alberta, Canada. We also flew for 50 hours above Australia—in a rented Cessna 172.
I spent my working years teaching high school mathematics, but I have always written stories. I have more than ninety published articles in academic mathematics journals, but they don’t make light conversation with friends, and I had always wanted to write a novel. So, in 2002, I signed up for creative writing.
Bird Watcher was published in 2007; Jaguar Princess: The Last Maya Shaman in 2011. I expect The Lost Jade of the Maya to come out in 2015. Of course, flying plays a part in every one of these. Bird Watcher is about a stolen airplane—stolen from Palo Alto Airport. The two Mayan books are archaeological mysteries, and small aircraft and helicopters are used extensively in the field in archaeology.
Marjorie’s books are available at
and her webpage is:
Enjoy the Journey!