Friday, May 19, 2017

Lowell Newsome: Pilot grounded by stroke wants to fly in helicopter again

Lowell Newsome, right, with his son, Chris.



Lowell V. Newsome has a perfectly good helicopter in his garage and nobody to fly it.

Time was, the Grove City man flew the Robinson R22 two-seater himself. But since a stroke two years ago, he’s been grounded.

“I was a good pilot until then,” Newsome said. “I can’t use this hand no more.”

Two years is a long time to be stuck on the ground for a 75-year-old pilot with 5,000 hours of flight time, 500 of them in the R22. It’s a long time for a pilot who in his younger days could loop and roll stunt planes just like in the air shows.

He’s understandably itching to go airborne, even if that means someone else is at the controls.

And that’s the second problem.

“It’s not every day you run across a helicopter pilot,” he said.

Complicating matters is that not all helicopter pilots can fly the compact R22. She requires a pilot with nimble hands and a small stature. About 175 pounds is about as much as the prospective pilot could weigh.

The R22 might be small, but flying it is a big job, Newsome said. He compared it to keeping a rolling marble on a plate.

“That thing is quick on the trigger,” he said. “They say if you can fly that helicopter, you can fly any helicopter.”

His search for a pilot who can handle the R22 prompted his 50-year-old son, Lowell C. Newsome — who goes by “Chris” — to post an ad on Craigslist.

“I HAVE A (ROBINSON) R22 HELICOPTER,” it reads. “I (AM) LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO FLY ME IN IT AND YOU GETTING SOME HRS IN IT ILL PAY FOR THE GAS IM 75 YEARS OLD AND LOST MY MEDICAL (CERTIFICATE) SO CALL ME.”

As of Friday, no one who fit the bill had called.

Lowell V. Newsome was born in Robinson Creek, Kentucky, in 1941. He was fascinated with planes as a boy, watching them cross the sliver of sky above the hollow where his family lived.

The nagging question — where were they going? — led him to the nearest airport, some 20 miles away in Pikeville.

Newsome was always mechanically inclined and good with his hands. When he was 15 years old, he bought a 1934 Plymouth sedan for $150 and fixed it up. He still has the car 60 years later; he had to restore it a second time after it burned in a garage fire.

He left Kentucky around 1957, looking for work, and settled here.

“I come to Ohio without a dime in my pocket,” he said.

He held assorted jobs until becoming the maintenance supervisor at the Harrison Apartments on West Lane Avenue in the University District. He stayed there 28 years.

Newsome learned to fly as a young man and has owned other helicopters and small planes, including a Globe Swift sport plane he used for aerial stunts. About 10 years ago, he traded a Cessna 150 plane and a Brantly helicopter for the R22.

The R22 has a range of about 250 miles and tops out at 10,000 feet, he said. He’s flown it as far as Kentucky. He will never sell it, but it eats at him to have a working helicopter sitting idle in the garage.

Every now and then his son hops on an ATV and tows the R22 into the driveway, so his father can fire it up. When he’s finished, his son drags it back inside and closes the garage doors.

“He wants to get up in the air,” said Amy Conley, the younger Newsome’s girlfriend. “We’re just trying to make Dad happy.”

Newsome has all the service records for the R22. He said he’ll cover the costs, making his offer a truly free ride.

“It’s ready to go right now,” he said. “I just want a pilot to fly with.”

“He dreams about flying,” said his girlfriend, Willie Russell.

Newsome conceded that this is true. He dreamed of flying as a boy, made those dreams real, and now finds himself back where he started, soaring aloft only in dreams.

“I’m just flying,” he said of the dreams, “and having a heck of a time.”

Original article can be found here:  http://www.dispatch.com

No comments: