Below is an excerpt form my story:
“In the 1960s America generated a number of people willing to take calculated risks to achieve something. To me, Don Garlits and Neil Armstrong had more in common than most people noticed. Advanced education gave Armstrong a different path than a young man from Ocala FL in the 1940s could hope for, but in their own arenas, their personal courage and their willingness to engage calculated risk made them legends. Today our society is obsessed with celebrity culture, people famous for going to rehab, actors with little talent, talk show people with nothing to say, and all day to say it. It is a distorted reality, and I choose to ignore it and focus on a time when we thought more clearly and knew what made individuals worth admiring.
Aviation, particularly Experimental Aviation is one of the very few pure arenas left where you as an individual can personally challenge yourself and develop your skills and hone your craft. I have been in aviation for a quarter of powered flight and half the history of experimental aviation, and I will absolutely state that the people who get the rewards of learning, building and flying are only the people who are willing to devote themselves to mastering each of these steps. If you are building your own engine to master it, if you are willing to really understand flight, they you will have your place among people of real values and courage.”
Above, 1970, Long Beach CA: Don Garlits in his blown fuel dragster at the moment the transmission explodes under 2,500 hp, cutting the car in half. He has just lost most of his right foot. It would be easy to understand if he never got back in a dragster again, but Don Garlits was the kind of American that we respected because quitting wasn’t part of his DNA. He came back from this and competed for 20 more seasons. I choose to spend as much of my life in Aviation as possible, because aviation still respects commitment, persistence and courage.