Tales From the Road
For a person like myself who enjoys meeting people, loves flying, likes to travel, has a knack for business and knows a bit about aircraft ownership, I can't think of a better career than working with Bonanza owners and buyers.
It's been 40 years and 80 personal airplanes in the making and while the money will not make you wealthy, it's a life rich with memorable experiences in places I would have never seen. Again, such is the case this past week.
As I write this, I am in one of my favorite places in our country... the Pacific Northwest which I affectionately refer to as the "upper left hand corner." I came here with the intention of buying an airplane for a client but, as things sometimes go, the airplanes did not meet my standards. While I do my best to review logs and records in detail, ask for specific pictures, speak with maintenance people to get an idea of the aircraft condition, and generally try to "read between the lines," perceptions are always subjective. More often than not, airplanes will always be "beautiful airplanes" in the eyes of a seller that has an emotional attachment. I, on the other hand, am cursed by a fastidious nature, so if it isn't perfect, its not acceptable... I never negotiate quality, only price, which is good for my acquisition clients but not always for the sellers. So I struck out for my customer... "O for three" as it turns out! That's the bad news. But it was by no means a wasted trip...
When I landed in Bellingham, I was greeted by Chris Evans who was acting to show me a V35B Bonanza for his friend. We flew the airplane to tiny Lynden, WA, a small municipal airport disguised as a fly-in community, where I had the pleasure of meeting Chris' wife Deborah, Bill Stoelt and his bride Sue Henderson, and Fred and Lorraine Silverman... all Bonanza owners and people so warm I felt like I had known them for years. Chris immediately made his spectacular hangar aka "man cave," complete with a bar, music and cold libations, available for the inspection. Bill was there to assist with the compression check and lend a keen eye to the airplane when Fred "The Doc" Silverman showed up to say hello. The inspection quickly segued into a visit to Bill's hangar and the opportunity to view his "museum quality" 1964 S35 Bonanza followed by dinner, drinks, laughs, conversation and, of course, tales of flying.
When the evening came to a close, I had the good fortune to be guests of Chris and Deborah. Chris, a retired airline captain on the "Seven Six" with a penchant for bossa nova, now flies a Gulfstream 550, and has literally explored the planet. His wife Deb, in her 26th year as a flight attendant, has also made a career out of globetrotting, albeit with a greater talent for singing and a boundless energy. With both having had the privilege of a global perspective known only by a select few, and being the hosts they were, it came as no surprise that the conversation at their home continued into the morning hours. I could never appropriately thank them for their hospitality... but thank you both just the same.
People who fly airplanes are typically interesting and busy people... sometimes characters, sometimes outlaws, but always interesting. I bought an airplane from the cartographer that mapped the planets for NASA, one from the man who put together the expedition to recover five P-38's from under the Greenland ice sheet, one from a NASCAR driver, one from a Japanese publisher. There was the retired captain of a nuclear sub who had a vineyard, the rock star who loved to fly when not on tour, the garage tinkerer machinist who grew up to make exhaust valves for the drag racing industry (you know who you are lol), the gunsmith who made world class trap guns, the tech wizard researching artificial intelligence, the physicist reshaping the way we exercise... the list goes on and on.