Friday, February 10, 2012

Soaring through the sky

Dwayne Margritz

by David Penner C-H editor 

LEXINGTON – If nothing else Dwayne Margritz is a bit of a jokester.

Although, he is also an accomplished pilot of 50-plus years and was recently awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during the Nebraska Aviation Symposium in late January.

The award was given to Margritz for his 50 years of flying without any accidents.

Margritz started flying at the age of 20. The first plane he flew was his instructor’s Cessna 140. When he took it for his first solo flight he was amazed at how the plane “jumped” off of the ground with only one person flying it.

Since then, Margritz has been hooked.

“It’s such a sense of freedom,” he said. “I have the ability to make my own schedule and go virtually anywhere I want.”

Of course a huge advantage to flying is trips that normally would take the entire day or more to make, take only a few hours.

When Margritz started flying he would go to places in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Idaho with his father and cattle buyers to purchase cattle for their feeding operation.

Being able to fly to where Margritz needs to go has also made trips visiting his daughters in Duluth, Minn., and Salt Lake City, Utah, go much faster than if he were driving.

“One time I made it from Salt Lake City to Lexington in two hours and 49 minutes,” he said chuckling. “Of course, I got up in the jet stream and rode that the entire way back. Flying really takes a lot of time off of those trips.”

Margritz said the two biggest changes in flying since he started have been the technology and the price of fuel.

When he first started flying there were no global positioning satellite systems, instead aviators would fly using non-directional beacons or NDBs.

His current plane, a 1973 Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, is equipped with the latest in technology. An oblong shaped ‘card’ similar to what someone would find in a high-scale camera shop stores all of the information and landing procedures Margritz needs to get from one place to the next.

The ‘card’s’ reader is located in the plane and all Margritz has to do is put the ‘card’ into it and he’s ready to go.

The gas required to fly is another story.

“When I started out, gas cost 37 cents per gallon,” he said. “Now, it’s not uncommon for gas to cost $6 or $7 a gallon. That is about $100 an hour for gas; that is significant.”

Through it all Margritz said flying has allowed him to do things he otherwise would not be able to do like fly him and his bride to the Bahamas for their honeymoon in 1964.

As for the award he recently received, he said he was humbled by it. Of course, he had a little joke to go with that humble feeling.

“You know the whole thing is really humbling,” Margritz said laughing. “The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) hammers us like the IRS, so when they recognize you and you go up and get an award, you see that they are human too.”


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