Born to be Wild

  • Published
  • By Col. "Tip" Stinnette
  • 39th Air Base Wing commander
This one is a Darwin near-miss. Like a true country child, Jim was born, born to be wild ... even though he had grown up to be a county sheriff. The wild one had cast off his mild-mannered alter-ego and taken to the road, in the company of another cop and the cop's brother, riding his hog without a helmet to the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. The tough lawman scoffed at silly helmet laws. No road trip would be complete without a commemorative photograph. With the wind streaming through his hair at 65 mph, Jim decided the conditions were right. He took his camera and turned around to take a picture of the rider behind him. This of course required the bold Harley rider to take his hands off the handlebars.

As a state trooper described it later, the motorcycle drifted to the right and headed for a telephone pole. Jim lost control trying to wrestle the bike back onto the highway and went sailing through the air, probably wishing he had worn his helmet after all. When he landed, he broke his eye socket, four ribs, and a shoulder bone, and suffered other head injuries and road rash. There's no word on whether he got the photograph or not. Jim had been following a beloved motto: "No Helmets 4 Harleys." Although he miraculously survived, he nearly proved another motto: "Old riders, and bold riders, but no old bold riders!"

I just got back from spending some time with my family in New Jersey and was struck by the fact that when I arrived back home it was with a North Easter that left behind a blanket of snow ... eight days later I am standing on the tarmac at Adana Airport in 70 degree temperature. Spring is in full force in Turkey ... the weather is beautiful, the flowers and trees are filling out, the grass is green, and we are barreling down on spring break. Being the warped person I have become, I see the conditions as ideal for misadventure and perfect for "No Helmets 4 Harleys" and other stupid human tricks. So I'd be remiss to not point out the dangers of fun, sun, and the open road ... whether with the two or four wheel vehicle variety. My caution for this one is simple: drive to arrive and be an old driver who is bold with caution while ensuring freedom's future!