My mother, Nancy Martin, a retired teacher, watches as my father leaves for his final flight. "I made sure to say the right things from the heart when he left, because you never know. I turn around and I think, where did all those years go. It doesn’t seem like that is what he really did, now that he’s home."
On a rainy day Martin, loads luggage in the general aviation lobby at Bluegrass Airport. "I think the love of flying is a bug that bites you. After I took my first instructional flight it was just there."
Martin watches as the Cessna Citation CJ2+ jet is moved outside before the flight. "What was unique about it was that with many jobs you don’t see the result until later or at all. When I flew someone and left someplace and landed someplace I felt a sense of accomplishment on the spot."
Martin checks the interior of the jet before his passenger arrives. Martin's co-pilot, Mike Stewardson: "I learned a lot in the time I was able to fly with Steve. He is an immense source of knowledge and has a great balance between real world operations and safety."
Martin nervously waits for his passenger in the pilot's lounge. "I don’t miss it is because it was a very stressful occupation. You don’t really know what stress you’re under until you’re not under it."
Martin prepares in the cockpit before the flight. "It kept getting more and more complicated. I don’t want to downplay the fact that it wasn’t a great career. Eventually the complexities of the job wear on you."
Martin and his co-pilot, Mike Stewardson, right, travel to Charleston. Stewardson on flying with Martin: "I am grateful to have been able to serve as a pilot with Steve and even happier to call him a friend and a mentor."
Martin adjusts the controls en route from Lexington to Charleston. "A lot of people could teach school," Nancy Martin said. "He could be a teacher if he really wanted to. I could never be a pilot. I know that it’s something he always enjoyed doing. It was sad seeing him make his last trip."
The horse farms of Lexington, Ky., are in view as Martin takes off towards Charleston. "I think the beauty of flying, seeing things in three dimensions, is this tremendous high (pun intended)," Martin said.
"I always had the intensity to fly the perfect flight. I probably never did but i always considered every flight to be as prepared and as professional as i could possibly be," Martin said.
Martin on flying: "It’s a feeling of awe. It’s a feeling of the beauty of nature. It’s a feeling of what man can do when they work together. It’s a feeling of higher power. It’s a feeling of how did this all come out. How does it all work?"
Martin leaves the jet with his son, Paul Martin, in Charleston. Co-pilot Stewardson on flying with Martin: "Never being satisfied with your performance and constantly scrutinizing the decisions made in the cockpit after a flight will be something I will carry with me throughout my career. Not only will this hold true in an aircraft, but I believe this attitude carries over into my personal life as well."
Martin relaxes in the pilot's lounge before returning to Lexington. When asked why he was a good pilot, he replied "my landings equaled my takeoffs."
My father and I after his final flight. When he would leave for flights during my childhood, I would hold on to his pant leg until he gave me a dollar. I would give a lot more than that to fly with him again.