Usually when the flash from a lightning bolt passes through the lower atmosphere there is a momentary quiet while we count the seconds between the light and the rumble of the thunder allowing us to gauge just how distant or how far removed from our ground zero that strike may have been. It was without warning, of course, but on this occasion, the split second between the two allowed no one a moment to reflect. This time it was upon us and the surge of electrical energy was immeasurable.
It took our friend James Stevens with it and the thunder hasn’t ceased. “Arizona Jim” we called him at the Flight Centre, because of his yearly excursions as a true Canadian Snow Bird, left early this year. He simply left early this year and there is not one of us left behind in his slipstream who does not wish to be by his side. Not one of us. James Stevens was a man among men and a gentle giant whose instructional capabilities, were beyond exception. He loved to fly.
It has taken these past few days for all of us to come to grips with the fact that he won’t be showing up at the Fraser River Float Ramp. What a smile our Jim has. Standing there in his tilley hat, black jacket, life vest and lunch box and those “god awful” rubber gum boots he always wore when one of his Float Plane students was about to solo in that shiny, bright Cessna 172 office he loved to fly.
It goes without saying that our aviation related family is a tight knit community of caring, spiritually convicted individuals whose appreciation of the social and human condition is paramount. James Stevens, was a respected colleague, dedicated co-worker and ATPL Pilot Instructor whose diligence, pre-flight planning, quiet and decisive cockpit management skills and general knowledge of his “water world” environment could easily be described as being without equal. He loved to fly.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s capable crew of technicians are doing their due diligence in terms of the aircraft inspection. Our Transport Canada friends, advisors and associates have continued their support with the myriad of considerations associated when a flying machine falls from the sky. Make no mistake, James Stevens was a prince whose earthly absence will be felt by us all. To his immediate family of wife, sons and daughters and grandchildren who knew and loved him as “Grandpa Jim”, our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. To the group of youthful, highly trained and caring Instructors who are struggling with the loss of a dear friend and respected colleague, the lesson is not over by a longshot. For me, the smell of ozone is still crisp in the early morning dawn, the flash of light brilliant and the thunder is deafening.
He loved to fly.
Christopher Georgas ( Owner / Operator of Pacific Rim Aviation Academy Inc. )