The Passage of Time

I've been pondering how much time has gone by in my life, but in a fun way: by comparing with other things that have happened over time!

Originally, what got me thinking along these lines was this fact:

  • I proposed to Gaye on July 20th, 1989
  • which was, of course, exactly 20 years to the day after Neil Armstrong made the first walk on the moon!
  • and now, of course, with our 25th anniversary this month, I've been married longer that it had been since the moon landing when I proposed!

(Note: All dates and durations are referenced to the date of publication of the essay, which is February 2015.)

So, I want to take a light-hearted look at how my life and experience compare with certain other things that have been going on in history...

To start with, I've been married a quarter century (25 years in February 2015!), and I'm over half a century old (53 in February).

Now, let's see what else is cool...

The Electric Bass Guitar

My favorite instrument to play – the one for which I consider my own brain to be wired – is the electric bass guitar. The first mass-produced electric bass was the Fender Precision Bass, introduced in 1951.

I've been playing the electric bass since 1979, which is 36 years. From 1951 to 1979 is only 28 I've been an electric bass player for more than half of the time the instrument has existed!

U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force became a separate service on 18 September 1947, with the approval of the National Security Act of 1947. (Military flying before then largely fell to the Army.)

  • In 1980, I joined the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps.
  • In 2004, I retired from active duty.
  • Since 2004, of course, I'm still considered a member of the Air Force, in retired status.
  • And, I've been professionally associated with the Air Force ever since – every job since retirement has been under contract to the U.S. Air Force!
  • So, the U.S. Air Force turned 67 years old on September 18, 2014, and I've now been associated with the Air Force for 35 years – a little over half of its entire history!

Here's a intriguing Air Force story: In 1987 the Air Force awarded contracts for the competitive Demonstration/Validation phase of the Advanced Tactical Fighter program.
I worked on the program from 1988-1990, and in 1991 the Lockheed-Martin F-22 was selected as the winning competitor. First test flight was in 1997, and Initial Operational Capability was achieved in 2005. There are now 187 operational aircraft, and in September 2014 they were used in combat for the first time! (over Syria). However, having been part of the program, I feel old when I see an F-22 (prototype) on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force!

Here;s another one:

  • The oldest actively flying aircraft in the USAF is 58 years old! It's a KC-135 Stratotanker.
  • Military heavier-than-air aviation (measured from the 1st Army Wright Model A in 1909) is now 106 years old
  • So... this ONE AIRCRAFT has flown over HALF the history of all military heavier-than-air aviation!


This one's not as dramatic – the first photograph was in 1826, and the first film appeared in 1889. 35mm film – the size that I used the most – was marketed in cartridges starting in 1934, and then the Argus C-3 camera (which I had and used for several years – thanks, Dad!) came out in 1939. So, my major claim to fame in the "time-passed" category is that I have used a camera that is now 75 years old...40% of the total history to date of photography!

The first color 35mm film, Kodachrome, came out in 1935. I have about 3,000 slides shot mostly with its successor, Kodachrome 64 (which came out in 1974)– my favorite film ever (sadly, discontinued in 2009).

My favorite style of camera, the 35mm single lens reflex, or SLR, first appeared in Germany in 1936 – 78 years ago.

So, in my case, having started taking pictures in 1973, I've been shooting for 42 years...more than half of the time that 35mm SLRs have been around! In fact, more than half of the time that there has even been 35mm film for them...

(Of course, now I use digital SLRs – but the history of digital photography is so short, it's not really interesting to me here...)


Not much here...I've been a private pilot for over 20 years now. The aircraft that I have flown as a private pilot the most, the Cessna 172, was first produced in 1955. I have actually flown a 1961 model (built a year before I was born!) (and, they are still in production...and are the best-selling, most-flown airplane ever...and the safest general aviation aircraft!)

However, I think it's cool that Orville Wright lived until 1948 – so he got to see the development of his invention to the point of supersonic flight! (Chuck Yeager exceeded Mach 1 in the Bell X-1 in 1947.)


It's hard to find any claim to fame here, because of the long history of all types of firearms. (They were invented in 1260 in China!) Here's some interesting trivia I found, though:

  • The youngest cartridge that I shoot is the .357 Magnum, created in 1935
  • The oldest cartridge that I shoot is the .22 Long Rifle (or .22LR), a rimfire round that was first made in 1887!
  • The bolt action rifle was invented in 1824. I have a Russian surplus one (that I shoot regularly) that was manufactured in 1943, but is of a design from 1891. I've been shooting it with surplus ammo from 1971!

Thanks for reading! Now go make some history yourself!