Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mitch Hudson

xxxxxxxxxMitch flying his Discus on a "blue day"

Mitch standing next to his Discus
Mitch Hudson is a member of the Albuquerque Soaring Club. He has not spent a lot of time in Moriarty the past few years due to logistics. His service in the Air Force required him to live in Texas and he recently was transferred to Oklahoma.

Despite not being able to be here very often, everyone knows him. He has an outgoing, charismatic personality and a down-to-earth demeanor that attracts people. Mitch is a kind-hearted soul who is extremely generous. He has been known to lend his Discus sailplane to several young pilots for competitions or training.

How did you get interested in aviation?

Like most kids of my generation, I watched the movie "Top Gun" and was fascinated by it. I just knew that's what I wanted to do. To date myself, I was about 13 when Top Gun was released. I told my parents that I wanted to learn to fly. They, of course were looking for anything to help their hyperactive, dyslexic kid who was not doing too well in school and did not have many friends.

I happened to live in the downwind pattern of the local airfield in Indiana where gliders flew. We had about an acre yard, and it was tradition that when Dad and I got done cutting the grass, we would strip down and jump in the pool naked. Inevitably, we would hear the "Creak, groan, creak" of the 1-26 flying overhead right about the time we chose to do this.

At any rate, I found that I was not old enough to fly power planes yet, but could fly gliders. So as a 14th birthday present, I went out to the airport and started to learn how to fly!

Does anyone else in your family fly?

My mother and my father both went out and learned to fly with me. We all learned to fly together as a family thing. My grandfather also took me for my first airplane ride.

What events prompted your enlistment in the Air Force?

The gliders did not help out much with my school, as a matter of fact in High School I missed MORE school because of them... But hanging out at the glider port was always much more educational than any school could ever be, I think. At any rate, with my blistering 1.7 High School GPA, college just wasn't in the cards, so I joined the Air Force, as this allowed me to be around airplanes, even if I was not flying them.

I wanted to be a Jet Engine mechanic and stationed in New Mexico (because I knew of the great soaring here) but ended up a ground support equipment mechanic in Florida. Go figure! Some people dream of being stationed on the beach and I was miserable.

I got out of the USAF after my first four years and went back home to Indiana where I ran a custom hay bailing company and tried a year of school at Purdue. I quickly got sick of not having any money, so I went in to see if I could go back into the USAF. Sure enough, they were in desperate need of people at that point, AND had a slot out in Albuquerque. I asked "Where do I sign"? And I was back on active duty. The rest is history, I think... I finished college and am now a commissioned navigator on AWACS planes at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.

What type of planes have you flown?

I love to fly and will go up in anything that I am able to anytime I am able to.

I have flown all kinds of sailplanes, from a Discus II to an open cockpit primary trainer.

I have flown all kinds of power planes from a T-6 Texan II Military trainer to a 1937 Waco Bi-Plane. I have even have an hour logged in both helicopters and the Goodyear Blimp.

If you could purchase any plane in the world, which one would you choose?

I'd have to go with a brand-new LS-8-18 sailplane.

You started flying at a young age, did you have any mentors?

I have had many mentors, and continue to do so. I believe there is always something to learn in flying, and always someone who can teach you. If you think you are too good to have a mentor, you're doomed to fail in this game.

How have the mentors in your life helped you?

I went from a shy, introverted only child to the outgoing guy you see today. I was raised by guys at the glider port and continue to learn a lot from them today. My social formative years were spent with Farmers and Doctors, Mechanics and Airline Pilots and everything in-between. All who shared a common love of flying... I would not be close to the person I am today with the accomplishments I have made without the "Fly daddies" who helped me get here.

What type of glider do you own and why did you purchase that particular glider?

I own a Discus fiberglass racing sailplane.

I flew a 1-26 (Kind of the go-kart of racing sailplanes) for many years. Then Jim Miller let me take his Nimbus II for a flight. After I was able to run up to the mountains without even thinking about it, I just knew I had to have a "Glass slipper" instead of my old metal and fabric 1-26.

I got a great deal on this Discus and could not pass it up, even though I couldn't afford it. When I was enlisted, paying for it took about 1/3 of my monthly pay check, so I ate a lot of Mac and Cheese and made a lot of cut-backs so I could have that beautiful glider.

As Mark Mocho says "You can live in a glider trailer, but you can't fly a house". I have adopted this phrase as my personal mantra.

What type of power plane do you own and why did you purchase that plane?

I have a 1946 Cessna 120. I bought it because I wanted a tail dragger that was easy to maintain. There is nothing that can break on that plane that I cannot fix, and I enjoy flying it quite a bit.

What is your most memorable flight in a glider? / in a power plane?

In a Glider, I'd have to say it would be a combination of any flight in the Discus that I took over the Mountains. Running up to Colorado and turning around is like viewing the world from an easy chair...Nothing is wrong down there, and it's just gorgeous! *Sigh* I can't describe it the way I want, but anyone who has been there knows what I'm talking about.

Power planes are a means of transportation. It's flying and I love it, but it's all about the same. I'd have to say it was a flight in the 120 down through the mountains in TN with the fall colors, and a great friend and one of my mentors flying with me. That was by far one of my most enjoyable flights.

Have you ever participated in a glider competition?

When I started flying gliders I always said "Ill be moving on to power as soon as I am old enough". I said this for most of the summer until one day, on of my glider daddies came whistling down above our ops tent in Indiana at about 10 feet dumping water and at redline. He pulled up into the pattern, finishing up a successful race day. I said "I want to do that" and was never the same again. I didn't learn to fly power for another 14 years. I was addicted to gliders!!

I have flown in many competitions and they are what I live for. They are very stressful but very rewarding at the same time.

1 comment:

Jonathan Price said...

Cool interview. Great portrait.