Arbitrary Story #2: It's A Bird, It's a Plane….
***Note: These Arbitrary Stories have NOTHING to do with my business. They are just some of my favorite stories****
When I was in college, I dreamed of flying. To Fly was my favorite movie at the Smithsonian, I
watched it again and again until my neck hurt from staring up at the Imax screen. And, before He Who Shall Not Be Named, there was Mark. Mark was weird.
Really weird. His parents were professors at Georgetown University, and a friend of mine named Linda introduced us right as I graduated from Glenelg High. We were together 5 years. I’ve googled him, I admit, a few times over the years. Nothing. He probably lives off the grid, near the unibomber’s cabin.
But Mark did have one redeeming feature as far as I was concerned:
He wanted to buy an airplane. And we did. Mark, myself and Rajeev, an Indian student studying at the University of Maryland. We all went in together to buy a Cessna 172, 1959 straight back. IT WAS SO COOL! Mark got his pilots license, and we started flying from local airfields to destinations unknown. (Rajeev, by the way, was the perfect partner. A straight A student, he never, ever flew.)
A 172 is a small, single engine plane with four seats. Exactly the kind of plane, incidentally, drug importers use to fly cocain over the boarder. Of course, I didn’t think of that at the time…
Mark and I even flew to the Bahamas. Paradise Island, to be exact. It only took THREE DAYS! The first day we left from Hyde Field, a small airport near Andrews Air Force Base, to somewhere in South Carolina. Then we had to land, and sleep. With a VFR license, you can only fly when you can see so many miles in front of you, so the next morning, we took off early to miss a weather system — sleeping in the airport’s pilot lounge at the small field. Looking back on it, I’m sure the private jet owners were THRILLED to see us sprawled out on their arm chairs.
We flew from South Carolina to Miami, stayed in another airport pilot’s lounge, and departed the next day for Paradise Island. It’s a short hop, and I convinced Mark to fly low, swooping over the Caribbean Sea so I could see the sharks. The water was so clear! I watched the predators glide just under the water, all the time wondering if I’d ever swim in those shark infested waters again. We landed…
…And, were met by the entire Bahamian DEA. We were escorted to a desolate area of the airport, where we were searched — extensively. Every part of the plane. EVERY PART of our person. They just wouldn’t believe we came in low (under the radar) to look at the pretty sharks.
Eventually, we were released from custody. Even in college, my drug of choice was coffee. We spent the week at a dirty time share, and then flew home. Uneventfully, and at altitude.
Did I reveal, however, that I didn’t mention the fact that I owned a plane to my parents? The same parents who were paying for my college education? I didn’t really see the need….
And life went on with them blissfully ignorant of my shopping habits until the afternoon of the horse show. When I was a kid, I rode horses — extensively — with my best friends, twins, Marie and Lara — who I still keep up with on Facebook. On the day of the horse show, we were all helping Joan, our riding instructor (and my next door neighbor) judge the event. A plane swooped overhead. Very low. VERY LOW. Perhaps 200 feet off the ground, low. It was Mark. He was weird. He was buzzing the show. Why? I’ll never know.
A few weeks later the Federal Aviation Administration pounded on my parents door. There are laws about flying that low — and I was the registered owner of the plane. I was in trouble.
“My son doesn’t own a plane,” said my dad, “are you insane?”
I was forced to sell the plane. But I’ll get them back. I have my eye on a new one. And it has TWO JET ENGINES.