Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Sentimental Journey

Same place, different time...

My son, Bob, really instigated this flight. He was just a kid, hanging around the field, when I was flying at Concord. Now he owns and flies a Cherokee 140. One day last winter, he called me and asked, “Wanna go flyin’?” Of course I did, so he said, “Meet me at the field office.” When I got there, his Cherokee was nowhere in sight. He said, “Before we go flying, there’s a plane here I think you’ll enjoy seeing.” So, expecting some exotic warbird, I tramped out with him. He opened the door to the big hangar, and there was a Piper Colt, white with blue trim, identical to the one I once owned but had sold 25 years ago. Then I tumbled to the obvious. It wasn’t just any old blue-and-white colt: It was 5545Zulu—my very own.

I had put over 600 hours on that Colt, mostly just airport-hopping around Ohio, but also to Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Florida and South Carolina. I flew it once to Denver to visit my daughter, and another time to San Diego and back, just because.

Bob had long been wondering what had happened to my old Colt. So he looked it up and found it at Jackson County Airport in West Virginia. He called and asked if he could see it; the owner said, “Of course, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be here. It’s up for auction.” Bob immediately flew down to see it. He found that it was in good shape with a new annual and overhauled engine, and he bought it.

We took it up that afternoon, with me in the right seat. I got in a lot of airwork but was much too rusty to try takeoffs or landings. (Hey, I’m 89, ya know?) Later, I got an instructor to whip me into shape, so now I can put it down precisely where I want and when I want. When the instructor was satisfied, Bob said I could fly left seat. That’s how I wound up flying to Concord in my old Colt.

Concord was quiet the day we got there, as usual now. All we did was drink Connie’s coffee, eat her cookies and reminisce over the photos that cover her walls—all from the good old days. Included are those of almost every pilot who flew there, almost every plane that called Concord home and a record of all events, big and small, happy and not-so. That’s really what turned this otherwise routine flight into a sentimental journey.


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