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  Thursday  December 13  2001    01: 21 AM

I love airplanes. I grew up around airplanes. My dad was a pilot in the US Air Force until he retired in 1961. I started working at Boeing in 1965 and spent over 28 years working in the aerospace industry. I worked mostly for Boeing but I also spent 3 years at Northrop.

I worked in Engineering. We always used to jokingly say about a design, "If it looks right, it is right". As far as airplanes design goes, if ever an airplane looked right it was the Lear Jet. Built in the early 60s by Bill Lear. Bill had his fingers in a lot of pies. He invented the 8 track tape. Only those of a certain age may remember that.

His last project was one of his most interesting - the Lear Fan. At the time, I was working at Boeing as a wind tunnel model designer. We were working on the leading edge of airplane design and followed what else was going on in the industry. The Lear Fan was state of the art in propulsion and construction and it *really* looked cool. Unfortunately, Bill died before it's completion.

This is the cool part of the story. His widow, Moya Lear, took over the project and completed it. I followed the saga of the Lear Fan. They had to have first flight by the end of 1980. I think it had to do with funding or it may have been an FAA thing. That part I don't remember. I do remember that it was a remarkable story that we followed. Everyone who loved airplaines was rooting for Moya and her team. They made it by the end of the year. First flight was officially December 32. That's not a typo.

A speech by Moya in 1983

Excerpts from her book An Unforgettable Flight.

The Lear Archives

One of the many talented people here on Whidbey Island is one of Bill and Moya's children, Tina Lear. Tina is a great singer/songwriter. She has been on TestingTesting, the Internet webcast from my living room, several times. You can hear her at her last TestingTesting show.

I just received Tina's newsletter. Her mother, Moya, died December 5.

I'm writing this for two reasons. The first is to remember an amazing woman. The second is that Tina included a poem, in her newsletter, that means a lot to her. It's also a poem that speaks to me as I follow a world going mad.

Keeping Quiet, by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
And we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.