Oh what an incredible day of love and happiness. The weather was perfect, just enough morning mist to make it pretty, and then dissipating to blue skies and perfect temperatures. I had the pleasure and the honor of taking two fantastic lady pilots and friends up in their first open cockpit. They loved it as did I, big grins, messy hair, tears of joy and hugs all around. Then promptly at noon, Donn the artist arrived at the hangar with his paint and brushes. After a short debate over which color to use (cream or black), he began applying “Lady Summer” onto it’s original place on the cowling where Dad had it placed for my 15th birthday. It was awe inspiring to watch such a master at work and my heart welled up seeing that script appearing again on the airplane. While Donn was applying his talent, a reporter from our local newspaper and I sat on the couch in the hangar and I gave him the Readers Digest version of my life with the Prince. Somehow it seemed so appropriate to be sharing the story that is coming full circle and growing while my namesake was being placed once again on the biplane. Donn said he really enjoyed hearing the full story while he worked.
I went home to do some flight planning to be greeted by a Fed Ex package, from Ohio. Now, I was anticipating something from Susan and Andy. These folks live in Ohio, and fly a pair of gorgeous RNF Waco biplanes. I have never met them in person, yet I feel as if I’ve known them for ages. A true case of sky brethren, Susan and I have become well acquainted through the magic of the internet and one phone call. As the hostess of the lady taildragger fly in we are flying east to attend, Susan and I rapidly bonded through our common love of antique airplanes, (biplanes in particular), our animals, a love of adventure and rabble rousing senses of humor. She and her husband Andy have been hugely instrumental in making us feel more than welcomed and accommodated for our trip. Susan is even planning on meeting us in Indiana in her Waco and escorting us into Moraine Field in style! She told me that she has issued orders at her hangar that when we roll up, there is to be a bottle of champagne in my cockpit before the prop stops turning. Now that is a true sky sister! Susan has also been very supportive and inspiring with my story telling. She has been sharing the blog and our adventure with all of her friends and she always has fantastic feedback on my posts. I cannot wait to give her a warm hug and thank her in person. I am also greatly looking forward to meeting her husband Andy. Apparently he is some kind of walking airplane encyclopedia. Susan told me that when she was first viewing photos of the Student Prince online, he walked by and remarked that it must be a Bird. When she replied in the negative, he promptly said, “Well then, it must be a Student Prince, and the lady who owns it is out of Washington.” Was I impressed! Not only did he identify one of three airplanes in the world, which rarely ever happens, he also knew who owned it and where. Susan describes Andy as an antique airplane Rainman. I would say I have to agree.
At any rate, as the date of our departure draws nearer, Susan’s excitement has grown with my own. She told me to expect a package from her today, but never let on what it was. I love surprises and I was excited about a goody box from Ohio. But I couldn’t fathom what on earth it would be. Probably some cool old airplane thing I surmised.
I slit open the fairly hefty little box and swept the popcorn away. Underneath an envelope with my name on it lay a pink shoe box. Inside the shoe box lay a double row of the most delicious looking frosted brownies I have ever seen. I laughed so hard, I was so surprised and delighted. My first thought, “I am NOT tossing these anywhere besides down my gob.” and “Where in the hell will I pack these? Oh who cares! I’ ll MAKE room!” Perhaps Chrissy can carry them on her lap. She loves chocolate too much to ever throw them overboard. It was one of the nicest gifts I have ever received.
And then, as if my day weren’t already overflowing with riches, my dear friend had taken it upon herself to throw us a send off party. I returned to the airport with pictures of my pink shoebox full of browines to show everyone (that’s as close as their getting to my brownies!), pulled up at the hangar and felt myself get weak in the knees and a lump in my throat. Donn was putting the final touches on “Lady Summer” and seeing it there once again affected me much more deeply than I had anticipated. It just looked and felt so right. Like something had been missing that I wasn’t even aware of until I saw it. It was absolutely breathtaking.
Lady Summer and I took to the sky together again and played over the water, the hayfields, town and the airport. After an exuberant fly by, we taxied up and shut down in front of the airport cafe next to Jerry’s yellow Super Cub and a gathering of friends and family. Lots of love and best wishes, visiting, fantastic food and Lady Summer sitting in stately elegance as the sun moved across the sky turning the high cirrus clouds turned pink and mauve.
Love comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes even in a pink shoebox!