Category Archives: Biographical

German Ancestors From Near Wiesbaden

MY DAD became quite the genealogist in the last 30 or so years of his life. He would tell me some of the things he learned, but it was never as interesting to me as he probably would have liked it to be. Now, I wish I knew more.

How will it feel to visit a place my ancestors walked out of to find their way to a sailing ship to the New World?

Years ago I gave my dad Reunion genealogy software for the Mac. After he died in 2013, I got a copy of the family history file from his computer. As luck would have it, as the actual purchaser, I was able to download the software and confirm the file was intact. A few months ago I purchased the latest version.

I learned yesterday the base library has a subscription to This reminded me my dad had once told me we had some German ancestors. That surprised me, because I was under the impression that side of the family* was “all British.” Last night I started up the computer, opened the file and searched for German ancestors. I found a name and a town. I googled that combination. The top hit was for someone descended from the same person! (I’ve emailed her, waiting for a response.)

The town of Eisern in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia only had about 250 people when the whole Rehlsbach family left for Virginia in the mid 1700s and became the Railsback family. Some five generations later, I’m writing about it.  Eisern is about 1-1/4 hours from where I am now. Road trip!

I was born in the Navy town of Oak Harbor, Washington. We moved to Memphis, Tennessee when I was a month old. I’ve visited Oak Harbor maybe ten times since. Each time, I’ve thought “I should feel like I am at home here” but I don’t. It’s not my home, but it has significance. My brothers have all spent much more time there than me. Aside: This may be the only thing in my life I wish I could go back and do differently.

If my birthplace makes me feel odd, how will it feel to visit a place my ancestors walked out of to find their way to a sailing ship to the New World? There were no trains, planes, or automobiles in those days.

A screen capture showing back to my great-great-grandparents.

Back to the digital records. Each record includes some bit of information, at a minimum the person’s relationship with people before and/or after. The record also indicates my dad last updated his own record more than ten years before he died. Looking at it now it appears as if he were 83. It makes me feel sad to think about changing it, but it’s probably apropos his record is the first one I should edit as I take a small step towards learning about Genealogy myself.

*I had long known that I have a couple German great grandparents on my mother’s side. There’s not really enough German density in the family to explain why I like this country so much.

I have flown 22 different airplanes

TODAY I Flew a new-to-me airplane – a Robin R2160. That’s a complicated name, but it was a very responsive, fun airplane to fly.

Robin R2160 aerobatic trainer. Picture courtesy Motor-Kunstflugschule, Mainz, Germany.
Robin R2160 aerobatic trainer. Picture courtesy Motor-Kunstflugschule, Mainz, Germany.

European rules for maintaining the privilege to fly are much more complicated than in the US. Instead of a flight review with an instructor every other year, you have to fly 12 hours in the last 12 moths of each 24-month period, including at least six as pilot in command (i.e., no more than six hours dual), plus a flight with an instructor.

If you go over the 24-month period without accomplishing the above, it gets worse. In FAA-world, if you have gone beyond 24 months since your last flight review or equivalent, you just fly with an instructor and if OK, you are good to go. Easy. In Europe, if you go beyond the 24 months, you have to be evaluated by an instructor, receive any required training, then fly with an examiner. If you go more than 12 months beyond the 24, then it gets really complicated. That’s where I am…

So, here’s what I’m doing. I am trying to get double duty out of this expensive training. I have an aerobatic rating for gliders. European rules allow this to be expanded to airplanes with just three proficiency flights. The three flights for the aerobatic rating will prep me for the flight with the examiner. Once that’s all done, I can send off a bunch of documents and get an expensive green piece of paper back in the mail.

The airplane I flew today is the first aerobatic airplane I have ever flown. I was surprised at how responsive it was. Really quick. Rolls with power are so much easier than in a glider. I think I still like gliders better, but I want to have fun and get double duty out of my money. 🙂

Here’s what I have flown (The Beech Baron, the PBY, and the B-17 I only flew enroute – no take off or landing):

  1. Cessna 150
  2. Cessna 172
  3. Piper J-3 (Cub)
  4. Piper PA-28-140
  5. Cessna 152
  6. PA-28-161
  7. Grumman AA-5B
  8. Robin ATL
  9. Beech T-34B
  10. Cessna T-41B
  11. Piper PA-28-200/201R
  12. Boeing B-17G
  13. Diamond DA20
  14. Beech BE-58
  15. Piper PA-31-310
  16. PA-28-236
  17. Consolidated PBY
  18. Beech BE-76
  19. Cessna 172RG
  20. Aquila A210
  21. Robin R2160
  22. Robin DR400

As I write this, I have flown 22 airplanes and 23 gliders. That’s perhaps more than some, fewer than others. The number would be lower if I could significant variants within the same family as just one airplane. Hmmm. (List updated effective May 31, 2017 but the story not changed.)