Wild Blue Aviation is
what most people would call a "small time" operation, almost literally a one-man show. "And I like it that way!" says
Jerry Painter, one-armed paper-hanger, airport bum, temporarily permanent latrine orderly, chief bottle washer etc, etc.
He got his first ride by selling ten times as much candy as anyone else in his Boy Scout Troop to win the Scoutmaster's
Grand Prize--a ride in a Cessna 172. Having built model airplanes and chewed dope off his fingers since before he could
walk, he started flying the real thing in 1969, got his CFI in '71 and started into the flyin' biz. Along the way he's
owned more than thirty airplanes ("never met an airplane I didn't like--'ceptin maybe a few"), including gliders, motor gliders,
several airplanes from Europe, behind the old Iron Curtain, China and, of course, the good ol' US of A. He loves them
R-985's, Nanchang CJ-6's, Yak-52's and that great round sound. He's still looking for a good Stearman or N3N.
And a Beech 18. "I'm not done yet. I just need more money!"
When he's not teaching people how to fly or horse-trading airplanes, he's flying or towing gliders with a Piper
Pawnee for Evergreen Soaring, Inc., the local glider club he's belonged to for almost twenty years. He's also an A&P
mechanic and a registered Professional Land Surveyor. He quit "working" years ago to do what he enjoys most, teaching
people how to fly, horse-trading airplanes and being an airport bum. "No better life nowhere," he says, "so long
as you don't need to eat, your sleeping bag is dry and your wife is cooperative and has a good job." Despite being married
to Christy since '69, she hasn't replaced him, yet.
He comes by his aviation delirium honestly, being the son of an Aeronautical Engineer who worked for Boeing for
fifty-five years (that's right, 55 years!), a Boeing record, and has lived in, around and about the aviation capital
of the Pacific Northwestern World, Seattle, WA, almost all his life. He did a brief stint flying and surveying in Alaska,
but the mosquitos chased him off.
He unabashedly says the Puget Sound area is the most beautiful place in this part of the mostly civilized
world, having explored almost the entire territory of Outer Washatonium and parts of darkest Idaho. Moss only sprouts
from his ears and webbed feet during the winter, fall and spring, when the sun occasionally disappears, sometimes for
months at a time, replaced by a dense, grey, dripping visibility eraser. His beard has been known to turn green during
especially wet periods, but usually returns to it's natural grey when it dries out in late August or September.
His wife, two daughters and two grandchildren usually know where to find him, though he sometimes disappears
for days and weeks at a time, only to call home from a phone booth in some place like East Humptulips, saying he's ground
bound 'til the fog lifts.
"I loves to fly!"