Paul’s little sister
I was 12 years old the first time I ever heard of Lewis. My older brother Paul and I went for a long bike ride and as part of that ride, traversed a neighborhood that was unfamiliar to me. “This is my friend Lewis Bjork’s house,” Paul narrated, “Don’t call him Ba-jork, he hates that.”
“Bjork?” I cried incredulously, “That’s the weirdest name I’ve ever heard, I’m glad I have a good name like Smith.” I replied. Well karma has a way of getting the last laugh and I have heard many creative versions of my name as people try to pronounce it. You get used to it.
Lewis and I met again several years later after I came home from college for summer break. He noticed me, but hesitated asking me out because I was “Paul’s little sister” and if things didn’t work out it might damage his friendship with Paul. I’m glad he took the risk and we were married a few months later in the Salt Lake Temple (1989).
Lewis graduated from Westminster College with a bachelor’s degree in air operations. He started as a pre-med student at the University of Utah, but decided that he’d rather be a pilot than a doctor. Flying was his first love. He began flying at age 4 on his father’s lap as they tooled around in his little Cessna airplane. Lewis was hooked on flying before he even began kindergarten.
After I got my associates degree from Brigham Young University we moved from Provo to Salt Lake to be closer to Lewis’ job as a flight instructor. Flight instructing is a necessary step in working towards an airline job, but it didn’t pay very well. I worked full time and went to school part time trying to finish my bachelor’s degree.
When our son Joseph was born (two weeks overdue and one ounce shy of 11 pounds), I quit work to be a stay at home mom. The adjustment was challenging on every front and cut our earnings by about 2/3. Lewis’ income was enough to cover rent and utilities, but there wasn’t much left over for food or gas. For several months we lived off basic food storage staples that we had received as a Christmas gift from my parents. The only thing I could think of to make with the basic supply of rolled oats was granola. We had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for several months. We refer to this time as the “granola days.” We plugged along until our landlady decided to raise the rent and we had to throw in the towel since we couldn’t afford to live in our apartment any more. We moved into my parents’ basement apartment when I was expecting our second child.
We wondered if Lewis would ever get hired at his dream job as an airline pilot. He needed more flight hours and more ratings to meet minimum hiring requirements and they were expensive. All of our income went to additional training, but progress was so slow it seemed interminable. Lewis came up with the idea of buying a small twin engine airplane called a Cri Cri to gain additional twin time. He went to the bank for a loan and they laughed at him. They actually laughed. Lewis knew the idea was a good one and he didn’t give up. He found two partners who were willing to go in on the project and since each paid a third, that cut our investment to $3,000. We got a loan (from my parents) then we drove to Texas to pick up a tiny airplane in a tiny trailer and bring it back home with the hope that this would be the break we needed.
Livin’ the dream
Lewis continued with flight training and building flight time. The Cri Cri had two chainsaw engines to power the plane, but they were notoriously unreliable. Lewis sold the plane and bought another Cri Cri with better engines. He continued flight instructing, and got an additional part time job to help pay for training. Our beautiful daughter was born and we just kept going day by day inching our way towards a hopeful future. Click here to link to an article on the Cri Cri.