Fall friends

Sanford Airport RestaurantFour friends arrive in three planes at the same airport for breakfast at the same time! What are the odds? The restaurant was the Cockpit Café at the Sanford airport in Maine, so the odds are pretty good.

I drove up to the Lawrence airport at dawn. I felt the sun rise behind my shoulder and set the orange and red leaves ahead of me on fire under the frost. I turned the plane into the sun and scraped the frost off the wings. I took off and turned north. I prepared to work hard on maneuvers on the way up to Sanford and breakfast, but within minutes it dawned on me that this was the start of a special day. The winds were forecast to be calm thousands of feet into the air. The visibility extended forever. The fall leaves below were crisp and clear. This was not a day to waste on hard work. I trimmed the plane for cruise and pointed it in the right direction and let the plane fly itself to Maine.

The pattern at Sanford was full. Cherokees. Cessnas. A Bonanza. A twin.  A Citabria.  A Pilatus announced a three mile final. (Pilatus pilots don’t fly like the rest of us.) After breakfast, I walked back to the plane and noticed two guys adding oil to the Pilatus. I learned that one of them owned the Pilatus with a partner. He owned the left half and the partner owned the right half. (Pilots are funny.) I mentioned that I’d once longed for an airplane that would put Lincoln, Nebraska, within a day of flying from Boston. “Oh, yeah, we use Lincoln as our stop on the way to California.” I mentioned that I’d almost bought a Mooney, but realized at the last minute that my family would never spend a day in an airplane with me. “Oh, my family loves it in the back, it is not as quiet as it could be, but it will be better with the new five-bladed prop.” (Pilatus pilots don’t live like the rest of us, either, but they are nice guys.)

I stopped at Skyhaven to practice landings on the way home. They were using the northwest runway with a quartering tailwind which was a little exciting. Coming in for my first landing, I heard a gaggle of planes on the radio coming in behind me. I took off again and turned right to go back for another, and pulled in behind a flock of RVs coming in to land. I lost track of the last one, waited a little while to find him, and finally had to ask for help. “Skyhaven Red RV, say position.” “I’m on the runway about turn off.” “He’s really more orange than red.” “He’d be beautiful in any color.” Pilots are funny. Maybe a little difficult at home, but funny at airports.

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