12:11 PM

The Start of
Something Big

I am sitting in the Burbank Airport and for the first time in my life, I am an airplane owner. Not a piece of a plane, not a partner, not a wannabe who rents...I am an airplane owner. And it feels fantastic:

On Friday I finished the paperwork and took "possession" of Piper Cherokee N8527W, a 1964 model with great IFR avionics and a "so clean you could eat off of it" 100-hour engine. It comes to me with a fresh annual and pitot/static certification, and I could not have envisioned a better plane to own. Two-seven whiskey has everything I need to fly serious and safe IFR at 125-135 knots indicated, guided by an altitude-hold S-Tec autopilot that is worth its weight in gold.
I had intended to close the deal Friday and then accompany the old owner of the plane north to Eugene to deliver our plane to its new home in Oregon. But as we reviewed the outlook briefing for Saturday the 6th, it looked great up to NorCal, and then crud and scud north of there into EUG. While 27W is more than capable of continued flight through IMC (providing there is no known icing present), the old owner was not comfortable flying for long legs through the clouds. Based on the briefing, we made a no-go decision, and I flat-footed it for Burbank Airport to catch the big pressurized tube back to the land of sane drivers, organic everything, and seriously friendly people.

After 41 years of dreaming about this day, it is finally here. Nobody but me can know what it feels like to BE me right now – so totally and lovingly addicted to aviation – and finally having a plane of my very own. I don't share it with any other pilot, I will only share it with my family and friends.

After a few laps around the patch at Van Nuys (with the old owner as PIC and my son Scott in the back) after the deal was closed, I turned to Scott as he climbed off the wing walk and said "welcome to our family's freedom machine." I say that because I believe 27W is going to bring our close family even closer together, shortening the distances between mother and son, brother and sister, father and daughter-in-law, Marmie and grand-baby.
I am very proud of what we, as a family, have accomplished recently. The new airplane is proof that hard work and focus pays off big time, and that the power of positive thinking is enormous. Now, as I become Chief Pilot of Dano Airlines, I have to give thanks to Papa Louie, who we all know is the one to blame for this lifelong devotion to flying that I hold so dear. Because of it weren't for Papa Louie and that Old Radio, I might have bought a boat today.
Thanks, Dad, for lighting that fire that burns so hot in me today. Now, it will be all that much easier for me to fly a few thousand feet closer to you each time the wheels of my new favorite airplane leave Planet Earth.

• • •

UPDATE @ noon Saturday: O.K., the trip home last night on United was as usual, a joke. After boarding 45 minutes late at BUR, we sat at the gate while the pilot came on and told us (this is not a joke) that "something is parked behind us and we can't push back." So we sat for another 35 minutes while they figured out how to move whatever was behind us. Uh huh. When we got into SFO, my 9:20P connection into EUG was delayed until 11:45P! They said it was "equipment issues", and after the usual many unkept loudspeaker promises of "we are leaving momentarily...no, really, I mean it this time" from the Gate Agent, they finally got my tired ass back to Eugene at 2:30A.

So the commercial flight BUR to EUG – factoring in the hour drive to the airport, the ridiculous service from United, and waiting for luggage at notoriously slow EUG – had a "door-to-door" time of 10 hours 10 minutes.

DUATS says that flight in Cherokee 8527W would have taken 6 hours, 26 minutes, with ground transportation and pre-flight factored in. BOTTOM LINE: Dano Airlines' non-stop service could have beat United Airlines last night by 3 hours, 44 minutes. After only one DAY of being an aircraft owner, it is already incredibly clear that the dwindling service of the Big Airlines is the best sales tool out there for general aviation.

You Might Also Like