“I can teach you to fly, but I can’t promise the FAA will certify you.”  was the answer given by Harry Tollefson when Gene had inquired about the flight instructor’s service.  

After completing all the necessary schooling and demonstrating the ability to fly, Gene was denied a medical waiver by the Federal Aviation Association.  This of course didn’t stop Gene or slow him down.  He continued logging hours as a student pilot while he sent appeal after appeal to the FAA.

In the 1970s the FAA wasn’t even certifying diabetics; how were they supposed to certify a man with no fingers?  After much perseverance on Gene’s part, the FAA finally signed his medical waiver and Gene obtained his certification in the summer of 1970.
Gene flew for over a decade, taking off and landing in hundreds of airports across the Western United States.  He was admired by other pilots not only for his tenacity but for his skills in the sky. Gene celebrates the hope of getting 
his pilot’s license in 1968. Gene sitting on the wheel of “Bluebird,” the Cessna Skyhawk he flew in the early 1970s.