I Love the 11:25

9:46 PM

It usually happens about the time that the sports segment of the local news is wrapping up on our NBC affiliate. Blah blah blah Seahawks, blah blah blah Trailblazers, and then WOOOOSH, right over my house it comes.

The 11:25 (PM) is on time tonight.

For a born planespotter like me, living under the approach end of EUG runway 34L is a blessing. Watching planes fly over has been a lifelong passion, from the early teens when I’d watch 707s and Delta Darts depart FAT's 29R, to my twenties, when I’d pull off highway 99 near Atwater, California and wait for a B-52 inbound for Castle AFB to blast me right out of my shoes. Too cool.

I remember a time at a little airshow at Fresno’s Chandler Airport when a DC-3 (my favorite airplane) was firing up to depart. A small group of onlookers, including myself, had gathered aft of the tail feathers, and as the two large radials were coaxed to life, out belched the usual blue smoke, delivered quickly towards us by the wash of two large props.
As the propwash increased, people started bailing, fast. Soon, small pebbles and other miniature flying objects were caught up in the wash, and as the -3 throttled up to begin taxi, the blast into my face was incredible. I stood frozen in my delight, one hand on my hat and one hand on my sunglasses, which were getting sandblasted into a nice even blur on both lenses. The smell, the noise...it was heaven.
These days, I always keep one eye aimed up between the giant Douglas Firs that encircle my house, waiting for something tasty to come sliding down inbound to EUG, or be rocketing southbound towards Cali, or Cabo. Most days it’s a Regional jet, but when the Oregon Ducks have finished playing a home football game against another PAC-10 opponent, I can expect a chartered 767 to grace my sky as the other team launches for home after suffering their brutalization at Autzen Stadium.

There are also a few vintage birds that tease me some days, and the occasional Bell Jetranger is always a gas, even for a non-Rotorhead like me. But it really does not matter, as long as they keep flying over. And then there's one A-10 Warthog, so damned loud the dog runs for cover when it blasts the acorns off my trees. But in reality, living off the end of a commercial airport is a blast, as I look forward to my daily dosage of airplanes overhead.

Especially the 11:25. Without it, I would have no way of knowing that Jay Leno is about to come on. Or wait, make that Conan? No, wait, it's Jay. Um, no, Jay is at 10P, right? WTF, he's on at 11:35P? Huh? Jeez, who can keep up with the trainwreck that is NBC late night?

And while I have no idea who will be on after the news, one thing is etched in stone: When Skywest's 11:25 is late, I seem to always miss the funny part of the Tonight Show…and I hate it when that happens.

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