Aero helps Johnson re-create flight that changed his life forever

Harold Johnson came home from the Navy at the end of WWII and began to fly out of Bradley Field (a former Garden City airstrip that fell victim to 1970's growth), using the GI Bill to do so. On Valentine's Day in 1948, Harold met a 16-year-old Boise High School senior at a Robie Creek dance, and somehow talked her into a first date. That maiden voyage ended up being a flight in a 1946 Luscombe 8A, and that flight led to almost 70 years of marriage and countless memories.

Harold lost his wife in March, and began reminiscing about their life together and that first flight. Once an avid flyer (flew several aircraft in pursuit of his certificates - Stearman, PT 19, Taylorcraft, and Luscombe), Harold's flying became sporadic after he and Marjorie married in late July 1948.

His aviation interests took a back burner by necessity in 1949 with the start of family, was resurrected briefly in 1957-58, then started up again when he joined the T-Craft Club from 1972 through 1977.

In recent years, his time in the cockpit has been limited by limited peripheral vision caused by Macular Degeneration. His eldest son, Rich, himself an Idaho Air National Guard pilot, has been able to take him out the VFR practice field on occasion, and if the weather is perfect, Harold can still perform level turns and Lazy 8's.

"When Mom passed and I was writing the obit, Dad went into great detail about meeting her for the first time and taking her for that first ride around the valley," Rich recalls. "I became intrigued about the Luscombe (using sticks rather than yokes) and just wondered if I could find about the same model year, so he and I could look it over together."

In early May, Rich contacted the Idaho Division of Aeronautics looking for help to re-create the occasion for his father.

"Everyone at Aero loved the story from the get-go," explained Administrator Mike Pape. "The entire staff went to work scouring the database looking for a 1946 Luscombe 8A."

It took a while to search, and there were only two airworthy models in the records. Fortunately, one of them was owned by Tim Imbrock of Nampa, a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot.

On May 18, with Pape's help and the generosity of Imbrock, Harold was able to relive that flight in Tim's 1946 Luscombe 8A, the same model year that Harold took his "little Margie" on the beginning of their life together.

"Memories are priceless, and memories re-lived, even more so," said a grateful Rich, a retired Brigadier General from Gowen Air Base, where he commanded the 124th Wing. "It was amazing how the flight came together, through a lot of help and generosity."

"Like Tim, we considered it an honor to do a favor for such a distinguished man," Pape replied.

Published 06-01-18