Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hospice patient’s dream is temporarily grounded

Spasoje Spike Miskovic gives thumbs up as he waits to take off on a flight in the airplane he used to own at Summit Air at the Akron Fulton International Airport (KAKR) on Tuesday.
(Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

By Marilyn Miller, Beacon Journal

The 73-year-old pilot waited anxiously Tuesday to fly again. The weather was almost perfect — sunny with temperatures in the 50s.

It had been years since Spasoje “Spike” Miskovic was in an airplane and even longer since he had flown one.

As a nurse wheeled Miskovic out to the plane he once owned, a six-seat Beechcraft Baron 58, he wondered about the delay. He had been sitting in the medical transport vehicle for nearly 30 minutes.

Just a few hours earlier, Crossroads Hospice staff in Green had told Miskovic they had a surprise for him.

“We call it the ‘Ultimate Gift,’ ” said Crossroads spokesman Bob Pontius, “We ask the patient if they had one day, describe how you would spend it. What would you want to do?”

They didn’t ask Miskovic. They knew what would make him happy.

“He had a unique life. This is not every guy,” Pontius said. “How many people do you know who owned their own plane?”

Aides said Miskovic always talks about how he learned how to fly in the former Yugoslavia, how he used to fly with his dog and how he once tried to teach a monkey how to fly.

Pontius said Miskovic served in the U.S. Air Force and Yugoslavian air force.

His nurse, Marian Presto, said Miskovic didn’t seem too happy going for an ambulance ride. He was told only that they had a surprise for him.

“But when the driver got off on state Route 224, he perked up and started giving the driver directions, even telling the driver where to park,” Presto said. “He looks better than I’ve seen him look in a long time.”

Miskovic knew his destination all too well.

For years, he was a private pilot for hire and a manager at Akron Fulton airport and also in Wayne County. He was an FAA inspector and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in aeronautical engineering.

When Miskovic saw a mechanic looking at the plane at Akron Fulton, he asked the aides if they wanted him to look at it.

Miskovic was also a mechanic.

He stopped to talk to his longtime friend and fellow pilot, Bob Hadley, asking him where they were going.

“We’re going for a little ride. Where do you want to go?” Hadley asked.

Aides helped Miskovic into one of the rear seats facing the front. He called out to his friend, “C’mon, Bob, let’s go.”

Hadley had gone to check with the mechanic, only to find that there was a loose cable. Another day would be needed to replace it.

The pilot had to break the bad news to Miskovic.

“What’s wrong with the cable?” Miskovic asked.

He looked satisfied with the explanation, maybe because he had been in the same situation many times, having to break bad news to pilots and passengers.

Hadley assured his friend of 35 years they would try again this week. Miskovic returned to the ambulance.

Hadley and Pontius say they are checking the weather forecast for a sunny day with temperatures of at least 35 degrees. Friday looks to be the best.

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