There are many amazing people who walk through our lives and inspire us to dream, invent, and enjoy life. For me, one of these folks is my Granddad Joe Lee. His countless flying stories were filled with tales of adventures to all sorts of exotic destinations, and inspired me to learn how to fly. He crisscrossed the continental U.S., made frequent trips to the Bahamas, and even landed in a prison airfield as a fuel stop. Grandmother was not pleased about that last one. The prison guards were friendly, though, and guarded her while they refueled the family Cessna 206.
I always knew Granddad was a cool guy. The local newspaper in Raleigh, the News & Observer thought so too, and wrote several articles about him. He walked around town with a singing parrot on his shoulder, and did cool, eccentric things, like searching for treasure from old sunken ships off the NC coast and weathered Hurricane Diana in ‘Old Baldy,’ the lighthouse on Bald Head Island. I have to post these newspaper reports because no one believes me when I tell them stories about his life. Proof, people!
While Granddad stopped flying before I was born, I made it a point to take him flying soon after receiving my pilot certificate in 2008. We went flying together out of Triple W (5W5) in Raleigh, NC. The pictures at the top of this page capture that day, which remains one of the best days in my life. As I get older, I realize how quickly time passes, and that these precious moments and experiences help define our character. I’m forever grateful to Granddad Lee for showing me how to live a full, fun life.
Fast forward to Today, and now I’m trying to keep those family adventures and stories alive. My older brother and I recently flew the Cardinal to Beaufort, NC to pick up one of the old cannons our Granddad found in a sunken ship off the coast. While there, we cooled off by picking out clams from the bay. Then loaded up the cannon and took off for Raleigh. The cannon was probably about 150 pounds! It’s always amazing to me how general aviation seems to make the world a slightly smaller place and much more accessible.