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Here are two of our most recent letters, what we like to call Air Mail:
I am a low time student pilot with 38 hours in a Robinson R-22 and 7.3 hours in an A-22 Valor light sport plane. These hours have been accumulated over a 25 year quest for a private pilot certificate. This story is about my second training flight in the A-22 Valor.
Mid-August in southern Maine just a few miles from the coast. Having just taken off from KSFM in Sanford, Maine, my flight instructor had me fly towards the practice area over the Wells beaches. The weather was great, five knots of wind from 310 degrees and 6 miles of hazy visibility. As we climbed to our selected practice altitude of 3500 feet, my flight instructor got excited and informed me that I was in for a somewhat rare treat. A fog bank had formed at the coastline and was moving onshore, swallowing the summer homes and making it tough to tell where the Atlantic Ocean stopped and land began. We sidetracked for a few minutes to watch as we could see Kennebunkport disappear as though being swallowed by the ocean. Kennebunkport is where former President Bush (H.W.) has a home.
We returned to the “mission” of training me to handle s-turns and turns around a point and headed back to KSFM. Upon landing at the airport, I noticed a small fleet of SUVs with the blacked out windows and a couple of local police cars on the east ramp. I overheard the young lady working the FBO office confirm to someone that the “captain” was coming in to the FBO. I knew whoever it was had to be a big shot because guys with earpieces were everywhere. The man entered the office and I was surprised to see that he was former President Bill Clinton!! He shook my hand and we spoke briefly about flight training and he continued on to speak with each person at the FBO. Wow, two memorable events in one flight.
This just proves to me that you have a much, much better chance of “being there” if you’re a pilot.
I just wanted to take a second to express my appreciation and thank you for dedicating so much of your time to assisting pilots be safer and more well-rounded.
I am a 600 hour VFR Beech Sundowner pilot, hangared in Birmingham, AL. I love all things flying and it has served as my mental release for many years. My regular missions are to Gulf Shores AL, Mountain Air NC, and New Orleans LA. I have had great family fun in our Sundowner. Over the past couple of years, our life has changed drastically. The economy has taken much of the excess income, my wife of fifteen years and I had our first child and now have another on the way, and general aviation has dwindled in Birmingham. On to the next chapter…
I recently had a flying friend approach me about purchasing half of his extremely well equipped 1984 A36 Bonanza. I told him I would love to partner with him but there was no way I could financially justify moving up to the Bonanza. Growing family and economy… A month or two passed and we saw each other regularly around the hangar always taking time to discuss the prospects of the potential Bonanza partnership.
He called me out of the blue about a month ago and invited me to go flying in the Bonanza and “shoot a few approaches” (he also owns a P51 and a T6 which I am fortunate to get to fly in occasionally). After our flight, he again brought up me flying the Bonanza. “This thing just does not get flown enough,” he said. I again confirmed my appreciation for his partnership offer but explained my inability to purchase half of the Bonanza. “I did not ask for any money, I just want you to fly the plane…” I explained that I did not feel right not carrying my side of the deal…
Again he said, “the money is not an issue, it is the friendship, and having someone that will take care of the plane. Your Sundowner looks brand new. There will be a time that you can buy in and we will take care of that when you are able.”
Wow, the aviation community is an amazing group of sharing individuals. I have made it a practice of sharing our Sundowner with local pilots and friends that have shown interest in learning how to fly and now the opportunity presented itself to me. Full circle…
I have flown ten hours with an instructor in the last month and will fly once a week or more till I build the required time to satisfy the insurance requirements. I am going to finish my instrument rating too…
This is a long note to express how fortunate we, as pilots, are to be part of a very elite group of giving, sharing professionals… I have enjoyed and been challenged by the complexity of the Bonanza compared to our Sundowner and look forward to completing my instrument ticket. I have a complete set of your Take Off videos that I watch in the evenings after I get my girls to sleep. Thank you for your many years of contribution to the aviation community.
Richard R. Grimes