Unfortunately I lost a friend last week. His services were today. His name was Dr. Guy Baldwin, although to many he was simply known as “Doc.” He was a family physician, an aviation medical examiner, and an experienced pilot. He’d been flying for over thirty-five years and had logged more than 4,000 hours in the air. In the past few years he had taken up acrobatic flying, and owned an Extra 300L, apparently one of the top acrobatic planes in the world.
I had the good fortune to go up in that plane with him not that long ago. It was a hell of a time for an adrenaline junkie like me. We did all sorts of stunts, and he even allowed me to take the controls. In my first-ever ride in a small plane I did a barrel roll and a loop completely on my own (though I almost blacked out for a moment when I came out of the loop too steeply.)
Guy was one of the most generous men I’ve known. Although he was one of the more prominent physicians and pilots in Tulsa, he routinely invited friends to fly with him, and I was one of those fortunate ones. We also enjoyed bowling and cookouts.
Last year he called up one day and wanted to fly to Ft. Worth and have lunch at Joe T. Garcia’s. He was that kind of spontaneous guy. His Cessna Turbo210 was equipped with an easy-to-read GPS navigation system and he let me fly. I piloted us most of the way back, even though he could just as easily have turned on the autopilot. 😉
One of Guy’s most passionate concerns was his time with the Make-A-Wish foundation of Oklahoma. He donated time, money, and flights to this organization, and even sat on its board of directors.
Last week he was flying in an air show in Tucumcari, N.M. when he apparently lost control of his plane during a routine stunt. Unable to completely pull out of a loop, he hit the ground at a high rate of speed and died on impact. He is survived by his wife, Felice, and their two children, Hunter and Brittny.
Although Guy was a bit older than me, I will miss his friendship and generosity, as will many others. His service was attended by more than 800 people, and he was honored with a missing man formation of T-6 aircraft that was flown over the Tulsa Air and Space Museum (which he also generously supported.) While death is always tragic, at least he left this world doing what he enjoyed the most.
Thanks for everything, Guy.