air travel

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I was talking to someone about his airplanes yesterday, which got me to thinking about all the funky, cool airplanes my grandfather has built over the years.

My grandfather, Ray Anderson, is a rather fascinating person with a wide variety of unusual talents. When my then-20-year old grandmother met him, she had just graduated from the University of Missouri College of Journalism and had taken the only Depression-era journalism job she could find -- selling ads for a small newspaper in Kannapolis, N.C. (She went on to become a widely published entertainment journalist, with a long-running syndicated column with Copley News Service and as an editor of Photoplay magazine... but I digress).

My grandfather had grown up in this little mill town and so he and my grandmother hit it off and ended up marrying. My grandmother claims the only reason he married her was because he wanted to borrow $200 to buy a hot air balloon, which he promptly did when they were married. Then the two of them tried to make a go of it by doing hot air balloon demos around the southeast. Needless to say, this didn't pan out.

Eventually, my grandfather ended up as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft, where he played a significant role in developing and launching the earliest communications satellite..

He also became a Biblical archaeology buff, and has climbed Mt. Ararat many times (with astronaut Jim Irwin, among others), plus he loves to design, build and fly small airplanes.

He's 86 now and working on a new kit airplane. Everyone keeps telling him he's going to kill himself with this one, but he says that's okay with him -- if that's how he's gonna go, so be it.

But anyway, I asked him to show me some pictures of various small planes he has built and flown over the years and here are some of them.

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