December 1, 2012
By Barry Schiff
Ramona “Skychick” Cox—she enjoys being called by her nickname—says that lightplanes are not designed for short people. As a “Four-foot-12” bundle of energy, she needed thick pillows to see over the panel when learning to fly. To reach the controls of her 1971 Cessna TU-206 requires even more pillows plus a set of rudder-pedal extensions. “My airplane,” she says, “is an E-ticket to adventure. It combines two passions, flying and communing with nature.”
Cox has been known to go “air-camping” for an entire summer. “It takes great effort to set up camp,” she says, “which is why I often spend three to five days in one location observing and photographing wildlife.” At other times, she might just pull out a sleeping bag for one night under the stars. Her favorite sites are in Idaho and Montana, places where she can fish for meals.
She arrives well equipped for adventure by bringing an inflatable kayak, a foldable motorized bicycle that uses avgas, a six-person tent, a satellite telephone (for voice communications and Internet access), compact solar panels to power her computer, and other items needed for camping and conducting business while away from the office. She also carries a shotgun and semi-automatic handgun for protection against predators (both kinds).
She is not averse to posh resorts, though, and relishes in sampling all that life offers. “The open sky is my greatest lure, a wild combination of exhilaration and serenity.” She is just as passionate about the water. An avid scuba diver, she adds, “I love being on or under water.” When not flying or floating, she enjoys skiing, concerts, and exotic travel.
Cox enjoys giving back, too. “My personal mission is to encourage others to pursue their passions and live their dreams.” She often gives lively talks about adventure flying to aviation audiences and inspirational talks to community groups using flying as a metaphor for living life fully.
She is the sales manager for MotoArt, a unique business that preserves aviation history by recycling aircraft parts into functional furniture and works of art. “My desk,” she says enthusiastically, “used to be a B–25 elevator.”
Cox says without reservation that she is single and looking for someone willing to share her adventurous lifestyle. “I enjoy the sky and water,” she says. “I’d love to meet someone who enjoys both.”
Patty Wagstaff is a patient teacher, with the skill and experience to get the most out of the Extra 300L—and her student.
Gene Leak is something of a local celebrity to local news outlets eager to cover his 102nd birthday flight.
Sporty’s Pilot Shop founder Hal Shevers said he might never have made aviation his career if not for local flying clubs.
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