“Dad, I really have to go!”
Those are not the words you want to hear at 4,500 feet, right around sunset in unfamiliar territory. They came from my nine year old son, Dan, back in mid-May of 1978. We were on our way in a Cessna 172 from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Hanscom Field, just outside of Boston. My dad was flying in to Logan Airport commercially from Florida for a visit with my aunt in Boston, so we flew down to meet him for a brief visit.
We left Bar Harbor on a clear late afternoon for the two-hour trip, leaving plenty of time to arrive at Hanscom before the “one hour after sunset” rule kicked in. I was not current at night, but that wasn’t a problem because we would be at Hanscom well within the timeframe. So, when Dan made his urgent announcement, “Dad, I really have to go,” it created a problem. If we landed to use the bathroom, we would not be at Hanscom in time to meet the one hour after sunset rule. What to do?
I told Dan to check the baggage area to see if there was anything he could use, and he found a metal lunch bucket that contained some crackers and a candy bar. So, he removed the snacks, used the lunch bucket and put it back. End of story? No!
We landed at Hanscom about five minutes before the plane turned into a pumpkin (one hour after sunset), met my father and went to my aunt’s house for the evening and had a very nice visit. The next morning, back to Hanscom and then a nice flight back to Bar Harbor. Now, is that the end of the story? Not even close!
We landed in Bar Harbor, grabbed our overnight gear and went home… the lunch bucket still in the back of the plane with Dan’s specimen. Yup, forgot all about it.
Well, the plane we used was a local flying club Cessna 172, and about a month later the club had one of its regular meetings. The president of the club conducted the meeting and we discussed several plane-related concerns. He seemed a bit agitated during the meeting and just as it was ending, the agitation turned to anger. He wanted to know who p—-d in his lunch bucket! Yes, it had remained in the plane (in the summer) for about a month. He was not happy. We all looked at each other inquisitively… no one seemed to know anything about it. I must add that all the other members, of course, had no idea who did it, but nonetheless they all had difficulty stifling an outburst of laughter. The lunch bucket mystery was never solved.
So now, and only now, can the whole story be told. My then-nine-year-old son, Dan, is now 47, the president of the club is long gone and the flying club has since disbanded.
So, I guess, that is the end of the story.