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Clackamas author still finds 'magic' in the air

Clackamas resident Marc Paulsen takes readers of his new book back to the magical era when air travel was a pleasant experience, while airplanes were accessible to anyone with modest means and determination.

“Magic in the Air: My flying stories from a time when anyone could own an airplane,” dates the 15-year golden age from the end of World War II until 1960.

“It was very true that there was a very short window of time when ordinary people could afford to own an airplane,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen, who turns 79 in this month, fell in love with aircraft sneaking onto military bases with “mischievous” friends. Postwar he started taking flying lessons with legendary Pacific Northwest pilot Hank Troh. After serving in the Army, Paulsen bought a Piper “Super Cub” for $1,250 on a gentleman’s agreement and $500 down.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Clackamas resident Marc Paulsen bought a Piper 'Super Cub' for $1,250 on a gentleman's agreement and $500 down in 1962. A receipt for the $500, hand-scrawled on a scrap of paper, appears in his new book.

Magic times for Paulsen continued through the 1960s and early ‘70s, as long as gas and used aircraft stayed cheap. Paulsen’s book, illustrated with about a hundred color photos, includes a copy of his receipt for buying 5.3 gallons of airplane gas for an amazingly cheap $1.91 in 1962.

That same Cessna 172 airframe from 1960 would cost $7,000, but runs you now as much as $307,000. Paulsen’s adventures include several close calls, including almost getting mowed down by a Boeing 707 on his way into PDX. But he also was able to get some of the best aerial photos after the Columbus Day Storm of ‘62.

“It was a wonderful time while it lasted, and it was a lot of fun for folks involved like me, but all good things must eventually end,” Paulsen said.

Airplane crashes are very dramatic, Paulsen points out, which caused prices to skyrocket, even though air travel is much safer per mile than almost any other form of transportation.

“The prices have gone completely though the roof arguably because of product liability and a few other factors,” he said. “Product liability is an effect of greedy lawyers and ambulance chasers.”

Paulsen was invited to present his book and experiences to the more than 500,000 annual visitors at the AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wis., from July 23 to 29. He’s printed 5,240 copies in the first edition of the 371-page “Magic in the Air.”

Paulsen also has 10,000 copies of Dominican Republic and Columbia River Gorge guidebooks in circulation. His “Amazing Story of the Fabulous Medjool Date,” has 22,500 copies that have been stocked in dozens of purveyors throughout California and Arizona.

“Most of the self-publishers are one-trick ponies, but I’ve done a few of them,” he said. “But you can’t afford to print out a lot of books in color unless you do a lot of copies and print in China.”

Paulsen’s books are available at local bookstores, on visibilityunlimitedpress.com and Amazon.com.