CMC Leadville sent me soaring away on wings I never knew I could have.
In 1982, after floundering around in the northeast U.S., I was lucky enough to be able to get “out west” and live in such a unique town finally answering the question of “what are you going to do?” (From Mom and Dad). Besides the incredible trips with fellow students, backpacking, rafting, skiing, rock climbing and more (all were new to me, and each was amazing), I found there was an Aviation Ground School, taught by Ursula Gilgulin, also an art teacher married to a Philosophy Prof.
One flight with Ursula, from the local airport, KLXV, in the amazing Rockies, convinced me that I had found my passion. For those that don’t already know, the Leadville Airport is the “highest” in North America at 9934 feet above sea level (9927 feet when I was there… GPS?). The thin air presents all kinds of challenges to flying, and other pursuits as well. I earned my private pilot certificate in 1984 and came back to Leadville in ‘86 as a flight instructor. I also flew local scenic flights, taught the mountain flying course and tracked elk for the Division of Wildlife. All under the expert eye of Ursula.
Pilots from the “flat land” could come take a local scenic tour and get a certificate that they had flown from the “highest airport.” Ursula’s sister, Verena, worked at the little FBO, too, and was a certified NOAA WX observer. EVERY hour, during snow or more snow (daylight), she recorded the WX report, including sky cover, temp, dew point, wind and barometric pressure. That info was transmitted to the National WX Service over the dial phone and disseminated to all pilots, etc. I eventually left Leadville to train as an air traffic controller and somehow ended up in North Carolina via Connecticut.
I so treasure my time at CMC, and Leadville, and thank all my CMC teachers for their guidance, and Leadville for its charm!