Saturday, March 27

And Yet More Fun

Monday's weather started bad and got worse. It was in the 40's with a stiff breeze when we arrived at the plane. I set up shop outside the door and the tee shirts were trying to take flight. Today I am wearing two shirts and three jackets. My new best friend, Anita, has sent me a heavy hooded fleece jacket and it is a lifesaver, protecting my neck and head from the wind. The sleeves are such that I can nestle my hands in them like a muff. There was a photo on page 2 of the Greenville Times this morning of Gerri Ingram and her daughter touring the Flagship and we hear that the Fox affiliate did almost two minutes on it last night. And once again, we have a steady influx of people all day, most of whom saw it in the news. Charlie has made us a donation jar instead of charging $3 and this seems to work well as many folks put in $5 to $20. Flagship member, Bill Bronson, has come up from Hilton Head today and kindly offers to mind the store while I go warm up with some hot chocolate. On my way back I run into John. He has come to get me as they decided it was too cold to be outside and we are moving the goods inside the plane.
This plane is a tail dragger which means the front end sits high and the tail rests low on a small single wheel that swivels. This means the floor slants. That means everything wants to slide toward the rear. So we do our best to stow things and still halfway display our wares and the all important donation jar. So Bill, John and I stand in the rear in a permanent "lean." Lewis and Gene are mostly in the cockpit. Today we meet several more WWII vets, many of whom had their first plane ride in a DC3 when they joined the military. We meet Annabelle, who flew for United in 1953 and who still has that flare and perkiness of an airline stewardness. And many, many more. Gene and I agree that in our limited experience, this group loves our plane more than any we have seen. One woman is in there almost an hour as she reads every one of the old advertisements in the seats.
It seemed to get colder and windier as the day wore one and about mid-afternoon we even had a shower of snow pellets. We are pushing hard to sell memberships which includes a "Heritage Flight." At the end of the day, we have 28 possibles which means two flights since the capacity is 21.
At closing time, Charlie and Randy again lead us downtown for a great meal. It is Italian tonight at a place that has 72 beers on tap. Are you getting the trend on the beer? One thing about pilots is they are all instantly friends with any other pilot they meet, so here we are with all our buddies. They take me in too. Three of these guys are retired from AA and ex-military too, so they are comparing careers. They all know the exact date of career milestones such as when they went "on the line" at American. Gene is playing "who do you know" with Bill who was based in Boston where Gene flew with Digital Equipment. Bill is good at telling very funny, but also true stories from his career. They speak another language, but it is a language they all know. There is just something about these types who have the boldness to loose the bonds of earth and take flight...they inspire me and I am fortunate tonight to be "one of the guys!"
After dinner, 5 of us meet in our room, divide up the list and call to confirm flights for tomorrow. In the end we have 19 confirmed and 5 messages left.

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