Reporter faces fear with flight


Up, up, up in the air I went with my headset on, my hands grasping on my camera and my cell phone.

I took a deep breath praying as we climbed into the air in a small plane.

The plane had no parachutes, only the ground would stop our fall if anything went wrong.

I had no intention on going up in any plane on Aug. 8.

I was at the Galion Municipal Airport to photograph the new sign for the airport.

But after getting there, I was fascinated to know more with the planes parked in the airstrip and watching them flying in and out. I was interested in knowing more about what a group of fliers were doing.

In January, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 148 moved to the Crawford County area.

“Our group redid the sign for the city.” President Bob Baxter said, “(We) recently relocated to Galion, (we are) in the process to get activity back in the airport. We hope to stay here since we have a hanger.”

The EAA group rebuilds and paints airplanes.

“We have an airplane we are working on and rebuilding.” Baxter said, “We meet every Tuesday if someone wants to come and join us.”

I was thinking that was really neat. I am new to the area myself and it would be neat to actually see the area from the air. I moved from Union County to Crawford County about four weeks ago and I am still not used to where everything is.

An EAA Chapter 148 member I was talking to asked me if I would like to see the Vans RV-9A plane pilot John Bowen had built from a kit. It was completed about four years ago and has about 210 hours on the plane.

As I looked at the two-man plane, I noticed the word “experimental” on the back wall of the plane.



Then I heard a someone ask Bowen, “Why don’t you take her up?”

I looked at them wide eyed.

Me? Sure.

My mind was racing with different thoughts.

Now most people have a Bucket List.

I do not, but I do have a journey with Jesus Christ.

For me this was an unexpected God Drive. For me, a God Drive is where you give God control.

This sure was an unexpected God Drive in a whole new way.

We had four people pushing the plane to a flat surface on the airstrip. Bowen should me how to safely climb into the plane. They asked do you want to leave your camera? No! My camera goes with me everywhere.

The roaring of the engine was so load I had to wear a headset to minimize the noise.

As we prepared to exit the runway, Bowen pointed to a barf bag next to my feet for me to use if I got sick.

I took a deep breath as we waited for the another plane to take off. I am terrified of heights, I don’t even ride roller coasters. I hold my breath when I go up or over large bridges. The plane began taxing down the runway, I took my camera out and started photographing the new adventure.

I have been on two missionary trips where I had to go up in a commercial plane.

Both times I had an anxiety attack and had a hard time breathing when the plan exited the runway to go up and then when we landed.

On last weekend’s flight, we were about 2,000 feet up in the air as we traveled around the surrounding area of Galion, we flew over Galion, Bucyrus, Crestline, Mansfield, New Washington, Shelby, Shelby Airport and other parts of mid-Ohio. We traveled 20 miles in a big circle before we landed.

Even though we were going about 120 miles per hour I felt safe and at such peace. I had never felt so free. There was no traffic in the air and the ride was very smooth. The sky was a little cloudy but the sun and clouds shined right through it.

Bowen used the radio to let other pilots in the air know our location.

“We don’t have to get permission for being in the air unless we are near a major airport and we are flying into their airspace,” Bowen said. “We let other pilots know where we are, not all planes have radios so we have to watch out for them.”

Bowen told me there are about 90 airports in Ohio.

“The vast majority of them aren’t controlled,” Bowen said, “So when we leave Galion to take off, we need to let them know where we are going.”

I told Bowen I don’t see any other planes.

“There is one about three miles from us.” Bowen said as he pointed to a device on the dash of the plane.

I wasn’t ready to end the flight and Bowen said he shared the thrill of it.

“It is just as much fun for the pilot as it is for the rider.” Bowen said,”I try to fly every week depending on the weather. On Sundays we have about four to five planes with about eight to ten men who fly to nearby towns to eat pancakes. Building an airplane is a huge accomplishment. To put it all together, the parts and then to fly it for the first time. I was a little scared when I first went up in it.”

Bowen didn’t show his fear last weekend and he helped ease mine.

Bowen navigates the Vans RV-9A plane through the north central Ohio skies. navigates the Vans RV-9A plane through the north central Ohio skies.

Galion Inquirer reporter Deborah Evans got a chance to take a flight with pilot John Bowen Saturday morning at Galion Municipal Airport. Inquirer reporter Deborah Evans got a chance to take a flight with pilot John Bowen Saturday morning at Galion Municipal Airport.

By Deborah Elaine Evans

[email protected]

Reach Evans at 419-468-1117 ext. 2049 or on Twitter at @deborahevans31

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