Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 3, 2012


They only die when we let them

I just discovered an important fact of life: dreams don't die. And if they do, it's our own fault. We kill them through inattention. I realized that when I met Larry Bachmann this week. I'd like to tell you where Larry lives, but he flashed through my life so quickly that I missed all but the most important facts about him: his name, his age and his dreams. I tried to track him down before I wrote this, but couldn't. So, Larry, if you see this, give me another call. It's time to go flying.

Larry has called me probably half a dozen times over the past year. Each time, the years in his voice made me think that he was calling to have someone to talk to. That his words about buying an airplane and needing my flight training were just that: words. Or so I thought. I enjoyed the short conversations, each of which ended with, "I'll be seeing you." But, I knew that would never be. I get dreamer calls like that more often than you'd imagine. And I welcome every one. Then, I got yesterday's call.

It was Larry again. I knew it as soon as he uttered the first syllable. Then, he said he was in town. And I was incredulous. He hadn't given me any warning at all, and had flown in specifically to see me. And to do some flying. I instantly put him in a different category. If he was a dreamer, he was someone who acted on his dreams. And now he was on my doorstep. What to do?

A fantastically patient young airline customer-service agent came on the phone, and it turns out that he had come in the night before and went down to the main airline airport, Sky Harbor, the fifth busiest airport in the U.S., thinking I was based there. I only got part of the story, but she told me that Larry was asking around the airport for me, and she called for him to find out where I was based. I'm at Scottsdale, diagonally across the city from Sky Harbor. She said she'd get him a taxi, and I told her to make sure she told Larry's driver to drop him off at the Main Terminal, not one of the FBOs at SDL.

I didn't give much thought to him until about the fifth touch-and-go that morning, and I saw a slim figure in a white shirt, sleeves rolled down and buttoned, fedora pulled down over his eyes, standing at the end of the row of hangars. I knew instantly who it was, but couldn't imagine how he got there. SDL is locked down tighter than an auditor's heart, but he had somehow found someone to take him out to my hangar complex. Then, he found his way to the runway side of the hangars, and spent most of an hour watching us ricochet off the runway. I later found that the taxi had dropped him off on the wrong side of the airport, but somehow he had gotten someone to take him to the other side of a major airport AND take him through the security gates to where I saw him. I had to admire him. He was hardcore tenacity personified.


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