A life well lived

Shared by Jim Anderson on September 27, 2013

During his long life, Joe was a lot of things to a lot of people. But at his very core, Joe was an aviator, in the truest and finest sense of the word. Flying was in his blood. Personally, I can't imagine flying NOT being in anybody's blood, but I'm thankful there actually are people who will sit in the back and pay for the gas, just as I know Joe was thankful for that. For us, life revolves around those moments when we push the go-button and pull the up-stick, when we surmount difficulties, when we're masters of our ships and our fates, when we peg the perfect landings or, at the very least, the ones "we walk away from."

It was my pleasure to nominate Joe for induction into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. I was thrilled that he was inducted while he was still around to enjoy the honor and privilege of acceptance into that institution. He is now once again among the ranks of his contemporaries, like Charles "Speed" Holman, Walter Bullock, Mal Freeburg, Chad Smith and others who paved the way for modern aviation, who tamed the skies to make them available and accessible to everyone. These things are taken for granted nowadays, but in the 1920's and 1930's it took a certain breed to reach out and grab that which had not yet been tamed, not yet mastered. To this day, it seems to me the height of audacity to attempt to fly a scheduled airline with aircraft having little more than a whiskey compass and an oil pressure gauge. Yes, that certainly took a certain breed, and it was Joe's fate -- and ultimately, honor -- to be one of that magnificent breed.

It's hard to write much about such a guy when the best words have already been written. Every aviator knows them, and every pilot knows the full meaning of John Gillespie Magee's "High Flight":

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Joe is now wheels up, having left this earth one final time. And word is, there won't be any holding pattern at the final destination. God has him cleared for a straight-in approach. Show 'em how it's done, Joe!

Lady Skywriter Photo Essay Tribute

Shared by Kimm Viebrock on September 26, 2013

Anne Billingsley Kerr has published a very nice photo essay in tribute to Joe after learning of his flight west.

Her tribute to Joe on her Lady Skywriter blog can be found at

Thank you, Anne for your kindnesses past and present.

Museum of Flight interview with Joe

Shared by Kimm Viebrock on September 25, 2013

At the end of May, just a few months before Joe passed, the Museum of Flight in Seattle came out to his home to interview him as part of an oral history project. 

This clip is an update of the one that was shared with the board of directors.

Last weekend, after my husband Michael and I watched the Electra arrive for their new exhibit, Dan Hagedorn turned to one of the Directors, Anne Simpson, and told her that as great as this clip is, she absolutely must see the rest of the interview.  

I'm told by Peder Nelson that they intend to use a portion of that interview (and based on his description, this clip appears to be the version to be used) as a pushbutton option to go along with temporary exhibit, Finding Amelia, to be installed as part of having the Electra join their collection.

Now we'll have at least two planes at the Museum of Flight with which to remember Joe.  

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