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Senior Lifestyles

Love of flying take local men up and away

12/1/2011 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Mike Baker’s house is located on the Mayfield Airport runway in
Springfield.
Shown is Mike Baker with the light sport aircraft he built from a kit containing 600 pieces.
Gary Jindra spent more than three years building his aircraft.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
SPRINGFIELD — Two local men like the view from the top.

Mike Baker and Gary Jindra built their own light sport aircrafts and now flying has become their passion. They are neighbors and both are licensed sport pilots.

Baker, 67, has retired after working in computer installation and maintenance with electronics in lawns and gardens, and as a handyman. He has six children and 16 grandchildren and began to fly when he was 50.

He lives on the Mayfield Airport runway, where the garage of his home also serves as his hangar. Mayfield Airport has a public use runway with privately owned hangars.

The Savannah plane was built in 2004 and features Tweety Bird decals on the rudder. Baker said he spent 421 hours building his 670-pound aircraft, which came in a kit with 600 pieces and 10,000 rivets.

“Not too many people have a plane in their garage,” Baker said. “I open the door and I go, and this makes it nice and convenient.”

Baker said he flies year round and his reason for owning an aircraft is simple.

“I love to fly,” he said. “All the problems of life go away and when I look down, everything is so small and that puts everything in perspective. I often go in the evenings for a half hour.”

He added that he gets “withdrawal symptoms” during times when he is not able to fly. He has flown his plane on some overnight trips and has traveled to Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.

“This is one of the best things I’ve done in my life,” said Baker.

Baker and Jindra have been neighbors for five years.

Jindra, 56, is a retired truck driver for the Keebler Foods Co. He has four children and three grandchildren.

He said he was hooked on flying “just like a big fish” when Baker took him for a plane ride.

After working three years in his barn on his 522-pound Kolb Mark III plane with folding wings that he also made from a kit, Jindra said he just got clearance to fly the aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration in mid-November.

Baker helped him with most of the wiring for the aircraft, he added.

Both Baker and Jindra’s planes use automobile fuel.

“There has been a lot of excitement,” said Jindra. “Building is an education process.”

During the building project, pieces of the airplane were made inside Jindra’s house.

“We covered the wings with material in my living room,” he said. “We had a Thanksgiving dinner with my airplane sitting there. My wife, Pat, has gained sainthood.”

Jindra added the glue used to make some parts needed to dry in a warm temperature, so they were brought inside.

Along with flying planes, both men have driven motorcycles, and they said that is a common trait for pilots. The cost of having an aircraft is similar to the cost of owning a motorcycle, according to Baker and Jindra.

Baker and Jindra belong to the North Coast Lite Flyers Club, which is an organization for people interested in ultra light and light sport aircrafts.

“It’s fantastic to share this [love of aircrafts],” said Jindra.

Both pilots said they enjoy the peaceful feeling when they fly.

“It’s the freedom. When you are in the air, there are no barriers like stop signs or red lights,” explained Baker. “It’s more safe to fly than drive a car or a motorcycle. No one is pulling out in front of you, and there are no slippery roads, but we are fair weather flyers.”

They also appreciate the beauty of the world when they are airborne.

“When the sun sets, it looks like I’m on the ocean, and I’m in Ohio,” Baker said.

Jindra agreed, adding, “The view is just unbelievable.”

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