Having aspirations is one thing, but fulfilling them is quite another. There was no way I
could earn enough money on the farm to pay for flying lessons; there had to be some other
scheme. Just about that time, a new outfit called White Castle had opened a hamburger place
near my high school in Frankfort, and it was drawing a lot of customers. The business
seemed pretty simple, so at sixteen I opened my own hole-in-the-wall hamburger stand in
Frankfort, but on the opposite side of the Kentucky River from my competitor.
Business was good almost from the start. By pricing burgers and Cokes at a nickel each, I
sold a lot of them. Trouble was, I wasn't making any money. So I doubled my prices (there
was a volume discount, of course - a dozen burgers for a buck), and suddenly I was making
money. Pretty soon I had a couple of other hamburger stands, and I hired my school buddies
to run them.
The sole purpose of that burger business was to finance my dream of flying. In fact, I
called my burger stand the Little Hawk because the name had a certain aviation ring to it.
The profits went to flying lessons in an OX-5-powered Waco based at a grass-strip airport
near Lexington. I soloed when I was still sixteen.