via email from Don Town, 6-17-10
I am stunned tonight.
Tonight I sat reading my personal events diary about having taken flying lessons back in my teens.
In a flash of inspiration, I realized that Google might help me find out things about history that I did not know all those years ago. I had no clue of the shock that awaited over the next few minutes.
A quick Google search for "Sinnie Sinclair" and up popped the "Early Aviators" website directly to the page about Mr Sinnie Sinclair.
More thoughts flashed as I began to simultaneously read an account, and have memories invading thoughts as reading the text ...
My mind was suddenly back to the moment of my scheduled flight for my very first solo. By indirect 'guess' I believe the date was about April 8, 1977. That was one reason for the search... to verify the date. When finding the account of Mr Sinclair's birthday celebration, that told me some things.
After reading the account of "Sinnie Sinclair", and the man who knew him in late 1976, here is my account of that 'scheduled' FIRST solo, and how it fits in with the account of Lee Wonnacott, who wrote the message sent to you on 10-16-05 by him.
My solo did NOT happen on the day it was supposed to.
The REASON it did not happen is because when I arrived at the airport where the flight school was, A man I had never heard of named "Sinnie Sinclair" was being talked about as the oldest living liscenced pilot.
He wasn't just being talked about, he was due to arrive shortly. He indeed arrived by car with friends. Shortly an open cockpit plane landed and taxied up to the hanger at Ottawa Air Training and Transport. O.A.T.T. was actually a charter service run by Mary Creason.
His family brought him to the airport to give him a chance to fly again in an open cockpit plane as a birthday gift celebration.
When I heard how old he was, and that he was the oldest living pilot, I felt a sense of honor at being there.
The date... as I said, I didn't know 100% accurately, but was 'almost positive' that it was April 8, 1977. Finding this website telling details about Mr Sinclair indeed helped, but also added one other memory. That date had to be April 9, 1977.
You see, my own 17th birthday was on April 9, 1977. Mr. Sinclair's birthday celebration had to be "a day late".
When they took him for that flight, his birthday flight delayed my own first solo flight that day because a Michigan law said one could not legally solo before a 17th birthday. By the time they brought him back down, the winds had picked up strong enough that Mary decided that the conditions were no longer suitable for my own first solo flight.
Although a bit disappointed about missing my own solo that day, I told her of the sense of it being a bit of a birthday gift for me too to see him there even though I didn't get to fly.
She responded by telling the news media of my own birthday, and that I was scheduled for my first solo. For some reason, they didn't seem interested and that part was never mentioned in the news story that ran on tv later that night.
Regardless, I felt as though I recieved a very sweet birthday present that day in spite of that small disappointment. It has been a pleasing irony that right in the middle of the disappointment, I felt so honored and at the same time very proud to be joining the ranks of 'pilots' even if it were to be delayed by a few days.
If by any chance someone were to check with the local TV Stations for Muskegon for April 9, 1977, they might indeed find news footage of him going up in an open cockpit plane on that date. If that footage is watched carefully, one would see a young man in a blue jacket run across behind the plane as it sat almost ready to leave the hanger area. I am that young man.
Ultimately, I did indeed fly my solo on April 14, 1977 at the age of 17 years, 5 days. It really has touched me to find your site honoring him, and gives me even more pleasure to present this story to you to add to your archive of things related to his life.
If that wasn't enough, it was even more touching to find that someone else has also written referring to the exact same flight school I went to, and referred to both Mr Sinclair, and Mary Creason, as well as his connection with Mr Sinclair. Add to that, a picture of him literally just months away from my own encounter in a city I no longer live in. Mary was a very driven type of instructor too. She expected us to think clearly and carefully. If she had any chance to fly with Mr Sinclair, that would explain some of why she was so well known to be very good.
Final notes. I recall being there at that airport and being part of the gathering in a side room after his flight. News media, friends, Mary, and others all gathered to sing happy birthday, and to honor him.
Finding out just tonight that his picture is on this site, and then in further explorations that his original flight certificate had been signed by Orville Wright has made this a very pleasing evening from my perspective.
Please allow me to hyperlink to this page...
Cecil (Sinnie) Sinclair, 97; Pilot for Most of His Life
... which indicates that Mr Sinclair recieved his own original flight certificate directly from the highest flying authority possible... Orville Wright! How could any pilot ever ask for more.
I had the privelage of sharing in his birthday cake that day also. What a memorable birthday, now made even more special all these years later. Its almost as if I'm 17 again tonight.
Don Town Jr.
Formerly of Muskegon Michigan