The Love of My Flying Life By Bert Botta

25 Sep 2019 2:33 PM | Stacy Crawmer (Administrator)

Dear Fellow SCAA’ers and Aviation enthusiasts, I beg your pardon, because I know that this group consists of more than just pilots. 

But every so often I show my age by regressing into “hangar flying” otherwise known as babbling with other flight enthusiasts about flying but specifically in this article, about a flying career that I’ve been blessed with. 

Today it’s about the passing of a dear, old friend. Many years ago we hooked up after 23 years of my searching for significance in my life. She even inspired me to title my book after our relationship, Fast Lane to Faith: A Jet Jockey’s Search for Significance. 

Over the years, she gained a reputation, a mixed bag of feelings, amongst aviators because of her somewhat sordid past. 

She came into my life when I had given up hope of attaining my dreams in a flying career that had those dreams and expectations dashed, sitting “side saddle” for the better part of 10 years in the Flight Engineers seat and another 13 in the First Officer’s seat of Boeing 707’s and Lockheed 1011’s before I met her and flew with her as a captain. 

When I met her she challenged me and demanded things from me that, in my other relationships, I either failed to fulfill or figured I wouldn’t need to be successful in my flying career. 

She came from Southern California, I think it was Long Beach. She loved to travel and we did so together often, covering the US numerous times; we even flew internationally on occasion. I don’t know how to say this other than that she was very popular with pilots; by 2002, over 45% of American Airline pilots alone had become intimate with her. I shudder to think of how many other pilots had relations with her. 

She was the type of gal who, for those of who were privileged to fly with her were allowed to take “liberties;” she loved for us to put our hands on her. 

When we flew together she was very quiet but often offended passengers in the back of the plane because she could be loud and boisterous; on occasion I had a chance to ride in the back when I wasn’t courting her and I can say for sure that was true; even the flight attendants who worked our flights had trouble talking over her. 

She had quite a reputation among pilots and they gave her some pretty interesting and descriptive nick names like, “The Silver Bullet” not because of the color of her hair but because somehow she moved through life like that. 

And maybe because of her attitude or temperament, or the way she liked to be handled she was often called “Mad Dog” or another really derogatory term, like the “Long Beach Sewer Pipe” maybe because of her reputation. 

Another thing I could never figure; why some pilots who flew with her called her Harley, maybe because she had so many emotional and physical break downs. 

She’s gone now but she’s left a lasting impression on me and many other pilots who had the privilege to be intimate with her. 

I haven’t seen her for a long time but the last I heard she’s moved to the desert around Roswell, New Mexico where she retired. 

I’ll never forget her, the love of my aviation life, the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing, MD80... 

Bert Botta, Writer, SCAA/Private Jet Pilots 415-320-9811

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