Four Years Above The Earth – A Memoir by Field Morey

(A Review by Dave Weiman)
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine – June/July 2021
Online Issue

Whether it is a book entitled “Poberezny,” as told by his son-in-law, Chuck Parnall, and daughter, Bonnie Poberezny…. “Fire And Air” – A Life On The Edge by Patty Wagstaff with Ann L. Cooper… “Forever Flying” by R.A. “Bob” Hoover with Mark Shaw… “Adventures In Flying” by Jack Elliott… “A KNAVE Among Knights In Their SPITFIRES” by Jerry Billing… “Under Fire with ARVN Infantry” by Bob Worthington… “Baa Baa Black Sheep” by Pappy Boyington… “Yeager” by General Chuck Yeager and Leo Janos, or any other interesting book about pilots and their flight experiences, it is especially fun if we know – or knew or met – the people who are featured or who wrote the book.

I just finished reading “Four Years Above the Earth,” a memoir by Field Morey. I’ve known Field and his family for over 40 years. I have flown with him; got my instrument rating from him; flown to the airport that bears his name – Middleton Municipal – Morey Field in Middleton, Wisconsin (C29) countless times; and written dozens of articles about his businesses, flight training, and aeronautical adventures.

As stated in the book’s foreword by Dolores Bandow, during his four years above the earth, throughout 58 years of teaching more than a thousand pilots, Field Morey overcame fear, faced weather, set records, had abundant fun…and as he puts it, “learned from my students…probably more than I taught.” In his memoir, the two-time “Flight Instructor of the Year” and Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame honoree, recounts his coming-of-age in aviation and relates stories of memorable flights, remarkable adventures and relationships with students and family. “Yes, this is a story about flying, but it is much more… It is a study of how excellence evolves, not always in a linear progression, but with passion and vision,” notes Bandow. 

Field Morey’s aviation career started the day he was born on November 9, 1938, when his dad, Howard Morey, was awarded the contract to manage Madison Airport in Madison, Wisconsin. An administration building, built under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” became Field’s first home.

The airport, Morey Field, was founded in 1942 by Howard Morey. Property taxes and pressure from developers forced Field to sell the airport to the City of Middleton, Wisconsin in 1998. After turning the reins of the airport (renamed Middleton Municipal – Morey Field) and business (Morey Airplane Company) over to his son, Richard, Field and his wife, Karen, moved to Medford, Oregon in 2003, where he continued to conduct his popular “Morey’s West Coast Adventures” (IFR WEST) instrument flight training trips (ifrwest.com). Field Morey’s daughter, Debbie Maier, also works at Morey Airplane Company.

Field Morey has been a leader in instrument training and has strong convictions as to what makes a good pilot.

Morey recalls in the book how he created the course: “I knew of no other flight schools offering these long cross-country, full-immersion IFR adventure training flights in the 1980s. I was alone in this market. Providing a revolutionary concept of instrument training, I perceived that many other pilots seeking (an) instrument rating could benefit from my IFR adventures, regardless of where they lived.”

Field Morey states in the book, that after he advertised the course in Midwest Flyer Magazine, demands for it increased, and he added trips almost every month. “Little did I know that our schedule was about to explode,” said Morey. He credits an article entitled “Instrument Rating on the Fly” written by a former West Coast Adventure student, Frank Farwell, published in AOPA Pilot magazine, for providing the course with national exposure.

Morey’s West Coast Adventures expanded to also include trips to Alaska, and additional flight instructors were hired, all personally trained by Morey – including his son, Richard. At the time the book was published, “we stand at 450 West Coast and Alaska trips, training 790 pilots,” said Morey. Of that number, 216 pilots have repeated their adventure at least once, and some pilots have repeated the trip as many as eight times, alternating a trip every other year when their biennial flight review came due.

Morey’s early flights from Wisconsin to the West Coast included a hair-raising adventure flying a Piper Tri-Pacer before he got his instrument rating, which is described in the book in great detail. Morey has learned a lot since that flight and the importance of having an instrument rating. He is also the first kid on the block to use the latest in state-of-the-art equipment.

I remember when Loran C first came out, Field Morey bought a unit and taught me how to use it on a night flight from Cable to Middleton, Wisconsin. He currently operates a late model Cessna Corvalis TTx equipped with a Garmin G2000 and the Cessna Touch Pad Flight Deck, and a Cessna Turbo 182 Skylane with a G1000.

Another adventure told is of a record-setting flight from Wisconsin to Europe in a Cessna Turbo 210 that took place in 1980. Morey goes into great detail describing how he went about preparing and executing that flight, from contacting the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) for information, to speaking with others who had made the flight. Morey did his homework!

We can all learn something by reading about Field Morey’s experiences.

Field Morey will be doing a special book signing back at his home airport, Middleton Municipal – Morey Field (C29) on Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25, 2021.

If those dates don’t work for you, you can order “Four Years Above the Earth” at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. (ISBN: 9781662422980    PAGES: 278 – $25.95).

For additional information on Morey’s West Coast Adventures, visit ifrwest.com and call or email Field Morey at 541-772-4582 (fmorey@charter.net).

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