Taking Off: Local couple readies to explore the country by air | SierraSun.com
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Taking Off: Local couple readies to explore the country by air

Amanda Butler, Sierra Sun

The frame surrounding Danny Motola’s license plate reads: “my other car is an airplane” – and it’s no joke.

Danny and his wife Maureen, known as “Mo,” are avid aviators whose sense of adventure has led them to explore most of the country aboard small planes.

“It’s fun to see the world from cruising over it,” said Mo.

Danny quickly chimed in, “You are so limited on the ground. There is so much to see from up in the air, you can see for miles around.”

The Motolas have been married for over 30 years, and it shows.

The pair learned to fly together in 1974. Since that time, both have earned their commercial and private pilot’s licenses and instrument ratings together.

The couple made the move from Irvine to Truckee 13 years ago, drawn to the area’s ski resorts, great hiking and most importantly the airport.

“We feel this is the best place in the world to live,” said Danny.

The passion the two has for flying led them to purchase a small Maule-MX7-235 airplane called a “taildragger.” The plane is known for its ability to land on small airstrips.

This weekend they are set to take off on a month-long, cross-country trek that will have them flying through 30 states, and traveling an estimated 6,000 miles.

“The purpose of this trip is a combination (of things),” said Danny. “Recreation, historic, finding roots and (the) challenge.”

Weather permitting, the couple plans on leaving Saturday, April 21.

“Each day, we will travel about 300 miles and land in a different small town,” said Dan. “We will visit with the locals and learn about history and customs.”

Instead of staying in hotel rooms, the Motolas will camp under the wings of their airplane. Both think the experience will be inspiring. Along with sleeping bags and supplies, two laptop computers have been packed so the couple can write about “the people who have made this country the best in the world.”

“We want to see small towns – not the big cities, we’ve done that before,” said Dan.

“That’s right, we want to hear the accents, there are really some interesting ones out there,” adds Mo.

Along the route the two plan to visit the Women in Aviation Museum at the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City, a place that holds a special place in Mo’s heart. They will also make a stop at Kitty Hawk, the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, in North Carolina.

“We have traveled in comfort before by commercial airlines, but we feel we have not made contact with the real America,” said Danny.

Seeing America from the cockpit of their plane will also give the Motolas a chance to take some beautiful aerial photography.

The small Maule plane is equipped with patroller doors, which allow incredible overhead views.

With all their gear packed and ready to go, excitement is building.

“The excitement of (taking a trip like this) for me it is the hands-on control that flying gives you,” said Mo. Danny adds, “For me it’s the freedom. You’re up in the air, with very little traffic.”

Danny and Mo Motola are the owners of Mountain Resort Properties. They plan on returning from their trip by the end of May. They will be keeping the Sierra Sun updated on their progress via e-mail.


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