Dream trip becomes reality for Susanville resident
Deaton, a resident of Susanville and a retired mill worker, will have been flying for seven years on Friday, Nov. 17, but even before he earned his pilot license Deaton said he has always had an interest in airports.
When he and his wife, Bev, go on road trips Deaton said they stop at airports and he would stand on the outside looking in, but on his recent trip he became the one on the inside of the airport looking out.
Deaton credits his wife for making the trip happen and finding the finances for it.
“I’m forever thankful to her,” he said.
The Deatons also laid down ground rules prior to the trip with the most important rule being not following a schedule.
Initially, the couple planned the trip would take six weeks, but Deaton completed it in 28 days. He also had 11 days of downtime due to bad weather and a one-day visit with his son in New York.
Weather permitting, Deaton camped in a tent next to Honey at the airport and every third or fourth day he would stay in a motel.
He and his wife agreed, though, if the weather was too bad he would find a motel to stay in.
“I stayed in a motel more than planned,” he said.
In order to record a state in his log book, Deaton said he had to land at the airport, get out and place a sticker of the state on the U.S. map located on the side of his Ercoupe, rather than landing and immediately taking off again.
Deaton’s trip began in Washington state, where his mom lives. With camping gear stuffed in the back of his Ercoupe, a cot on the floorboard and pencils, measuring devices and maps sitting on the passenger side, Deaton said there was no room except for him.
From Washington, Deaton said he flew through the northern states including Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
He made his way to Newburg, New York, where his son lives and his wife flew out on a commercial flight to meet him.
Deaton said he could have landed in all of the New England states in a day, but it actually took a day and a half due to rainy weather.
He then flew through the eastern states, zigzagging through Tennessee, Virginia and Florida.
The Deatons decided the trip should be taken in October because of the fall colors and Deaton said he flew at about 1,500 to 2,000 feet above the ground because he wanted to see everything.
He said the landscape throughout the country was different, but the most beautiful were the borders of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia where he said it looked like the whole country was alive as the sun hit the red and yellow colors.
Deaton also landed at small airfields with no towers and with “mom and pop” fixed base operations.
Considering the places he chose to land at, Deaton said he considers Susanville Municipal Airport a large airport.
In addition, if a person serviced his plane he took a photo of the person next to an airport identification sign, but if a person wasn’t present Deaton took a photo of the sign alone. In some notes on his adventure, Deaton said some of the airports didn’t have signs, not even by the entrance to the airport.
Deaton said he liked all of the airports he landed in, but the most interesting field was Hackettstown, N.J., where the narrow paved runway went over the top of the hill with steep grass taxiways on the both sides.
His last stop before flying home was in Ridgecrest, Calif., where his daughter lives.
Deaton said he met a lot of people across the country and was featured in an EAA newsletter in Tennessee.
Now that his dream has become reality, Deaton said he would like to fly to Alaska, but said it would depend upon finances.
But he said his Ercoupe wouldn’t make it to Hawaii.
Deaton said, “Ever since I was a little guy, I’ve been in love with airplanes.”
But it was Larry Beck who convinced Deaton to learn how to fly.
“I’m glad I did it,” he said.
Up until he received his pilot’s license, Deaton said it was just family and work.
It took him nine months to earn his license and his training included passing a physical and written exam and taking lessons from an instructor.
When the instructor thinks a person is ready, Deaton said the individual flies with a FAA flight examiner.
He also wants people to know anyone can learn how to fly and it is not only for rich people, because flying doesn’t have to be expensive, Deaton said.
“You don’t have to be rich to fly,” he said.
If a person has a dream to fly, Deaton said, “Get out and do it. After my experiences I should’ve gotten out and done it sooner.”
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