By Sheila Harris
As a ground paramedic for a major healthcare system in Springfield, Missouri, Aaron Driskill (of Billings, Missouri) says unforecast adverse weather conditions led to his first encounter with his now-wife, Kasha, who was a flight paramedic for a different healthcare system in the same city.
When the helicopter flight Kasha was assigned was scrubbed shortly after takeoff in favor of the ground transport of a patient from Springfield to St. Louis, Driskill was the paramedic onboard the ambulance.
“I don’t know what became of the patient after we delivered him to St. Louis,” Driskill said, “but I do know that Kasha and I began dating after that trip.”
When the pair married, he had put in about 25 or 30 hours of flight instruction toward his private pilot certificate.
“As a paramedic, I had lots of time on my hands, but not a lot of money,” he said, “so when I got married, I put flight lessons on hold in order to redirect my funds.”
Driskill, who was raised on a large farm in south central Iowa, was given his first ride in an airplane by a group of visiting pheasant hunters.
“I was only 13 or 14,” said Driskill, who is now 50, “but the memory of that flight stuck with me.”
A stint in the U.S. Army gave him more exposure to flight, although, he says, he didn’t care much for jumping out of the airplanes.
Several years into their marriage, Kasha surprised Aaron on his birthday with the necessary materials to begin flight instruction again.
“Once I got back into flight lessons, all bets were off,” Driskill said. “Inside of you—inside of me—there lies a monster. When you get behind that yoke, pull back on it, and slip the surly bonds of earth, it’s like, ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done, ever!’”
When people are bitten hard and deeply by the flying bug, Driskill contends, they change their lives to include an airplane in it.
After Driskill obtained his private pilot certificate six years ago, followed by his instrument rating, he purchased a Cessna 210, which he later sold and replaced with a Piper Lance that the family uses frequently for cross-country flights.
“I’ve taken almost all of my family members up at one time or another,” Driskill said. “But my dad, who died in 1997, flies with me all of the time. In fact, he’s with me every day.”
The Driskills’ son, 15-year-old Hunter Driskill, is following in his flight-loving father’s footsteps and is primed to begin flight lessons of his own, after years spent studying aviation in general and bushplanes in particular.
Both Aaron and Kasha Driskill long ago set aside their paramedic careers in exchange for the real estate profession, where Kasha is a realtor, and Aaron owns his own home inspection business. The family now lives on a farm where, in a twist which Aaron sometimes finds surprising, they raise and sell a few cattle every year.
“For someone who couldn’t wait to get away from the farm as a teenager, here I am back at it again,” Driskill said.
Sheila Harris is a writer in southwest Missouri.