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Jim Bagley is a native of Twentynine Palms, Calif. His family has been part of the community for three generations and Bagley has served as Mayor of Twentynine Palms three times.

Photo by Cpl. D. J. Wu

What I've Learned: Jim Bagley

24 Jan 2014 | Cpl. D.J. Wu

Jim Bagley is a native of Twentynine Palms, Calif. His family has been part of the community for three generations and Bagley has served as Mayor of Twentynine Palms three times.

> When I was a kid, I was a motorcycle racer and a skier. Flying is trying to make it not risky. That’s part of my job as a flight instructor.

> I flew gliders as a kid. I started working on my license when I was in college at the University of California Los Angeles. I could never really afford to fly, but it got to a point in my life when I said it wasn't going to get any cheaper and I can’t afford not to fly. So, I’ve been flying for 20 years and instructing for about 12. Big Bear is only 30 minutes away and I like to have breakfast up there sometimes. They usually have the cheapest avgas too, so it’s kind of like a local gathering spot.

> Last night I flew down to Riverside. I have a friend down there, so I went to see her and had dinner. It’s 50 minutes away. If you were driving, that would easily be two hours. She lived about 20 minutes from the airport. She picked me up, had dinner and I was back by 10 o’clock.

> I just love flying, the technical part of it. It’s applied sciences, it’s fun, it’s adventurous.

> Most of the instruction I do now is recreational. I do have instructor ratings for everything. I’m certified in most types of aircraft.

> My Cessna 172 was manufactured in 1955 and they’ve grown in size since then. A new one costs just less than 400,000 dollars. My airplane is worth about 30,000. I’ve had mine about 10 years and I want to restore it.

> I have a jacket celebrating the Wright brothers’ centennial of flight. I went back to Kitty Hawk, N.C. It was a magical event. Every living icon in aviation was there. Every astronaut, every cosmonaut, everyone was there.

> It was raining terribly. We all stood in the rain and watched them try to fly. They crashed, which is exactly what happened to the Wright brothers. It was a celebration and it was perfect.

> Flying to the centennial is definitely a highlight in my flying career. I flew to Oshkosh, Wisc. this year, which is the big annual air show. It’s the Haj of aviation, it's Mecca.

> The flight was 1,400 miles from Twentynine Palms. I have a 100-know airplane, which isn’t fast. One of my favorite things to do from Twentynine Palms, is fly to Catalina Island. It’s just an hour and 10 minutes away and there’s so much to do there.

> One of the things I do on the weekends, is I tow gliders. Saturday, I was working in Warner Springs and I had my GoPro in my tow plane with me and it’s actually a pretty cool video. I had it in my hand, so I was moving it around a lot. I had to go down to the stick, manipulate the throttle and it’s a very interesting angle. You don’t normally get to see inside the airplane.

> I can’t tell you how many different airplanes I’ve flown. I’d have to look at my log books. This is the last year I’ll be keeping a paper log book. It’s all digital from here. I have an app on my iPad that keeps all of my flight data, so it’s so much easier.

> The trunk of my car is like my hangar. If I need to take the cowling off or look at spark plugs, they’re here. I have all my fluids and tools in here.

>I did all the riskier things in my younger days. I raced bikes and skied when I was a kid. But now, I just love to fly. It’s the least risky thing i do now.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms