|Friday, March 11, 2005|
The Low Country morning has dawned under blue skies, and the rising Sun is
shooting morning streaks through the lingering ground fog haunting the tops of
the Live Oak trees.
While the coffee is perking we leave the RV on our
morning foray for the newspaper, a 300-yard stroll through the winter-dried
grass to the park office. Clumps of hanging Spanish moss brush my face as we
make our way through the spreading trees of this former plantation; the cool
temperature this morning insuring brisk movement.
my Yellow Lab, is getting his own doggy news via a red nose glued to the ground,
and a briskly wagging tail lets me know it's all good news this morning. He
gives his usual greeting to the ladies at the office by putting his front paws
on the counter and giving them his best smile, and for this effort collects his
morning allotment of pats and assurances that he is indeed 'a good boy'.
year we've fled the vagaries of a West Virginia winter to settle in an RV park
just south of Charleston, SC. A cell phone, a laptop with a wireless connection
and Federal Express have made such a temporary relocation possible, something
that was unthinkable a few years ago. Our 37' fifth wheel has every comfort of
home, while having few of the chores, and it seems to suit us perfectly.
days go by easily here on the coastal South. I'm spending about the same hours
in the office as I do in the West Virginia office, but the temperate climate
invites evening runs and exploration along the tidal flats. On weekends we drift
into town and take in the markets on the town square, and pummel our senses with
the beautiful and seemingly endless antebellum architecture. Folks here are laid
back and friendly and the pace of life seems to match almost exactly the pace of
my inner clock these days.
Last weekend we hiked, then ran the greenbelt. This is an old railroad
bed that the city of Charleston has converted to a hiking/biking/running trail,
and it runs the eight miles from near our park to the edge of Charleston. We
found it early in our stay here, and I've run on it and hiked it often, until
it's become one of my favorite places here.
The greenbelt shoots
straight as an arrow through the marsh, away from other roads and in fact, away
from anything man-made. at low tide the mud flats surrounding it are exposed,
and the air smells ancient and mysterious, and the flats look as if they hold
many wonderful secrets. Millions of crabs do a sort of hokey pokey in the pluff
mud and the air is filled with the sound of birds. Heron, geese, ducks, hawks
and many other costal birds call this area home, and this narrow path provides
the only access to this wonderland except by boat.
Today in the
office, I'm looking for a Cherokee Six for a customer who has commissioned me to
find him a suitable airplane. With his budget and wish list in hand, I spend
several hours on the computer and on the phone, gathering information and
compiling lists of 'finalists'. By afternoon I have it narrowed down to about
three airplanes, which I will further pare down to the one that I go to inspect.
A friend and fellow aircraft salesman made the
observation many years ago, that 'when you buy a used airplane you don't buy the
airplane alone, you also buy its history'. That seemed to me a good thought at
the time and it's even truer now, these many years later when we're still
selling many of the same airplanes.
The task then of selecting a used airplane,
becomes the chore of choosing the airplane that was treated kindest by
happenstance. Since all airplanes left the factory new, what happened after
that is of utmost interest. Did it have a series of good owners, who tucked it
away from the corrosive elements and the wind and hail storms? Was if fortunate
enough to miss being flown by the careless or inexperienced pilot who would
allow damage to occur to its airframe or engine? Was it lucky enough to have
owners who gave it the maintenance it needed, without cutting corners?
I see airplanes frequently that remind me of a story that my friend Bill told me
about his favorite truck, a dependable but badly battered 1 ton International.
One Saturday as Bill, his daughter and her six-year-old friend were bumping
their way to the feed store, the friend asked, "Mr. Mason, was this truck
The logbooks tell a story, albeit a coded one.
Sometimes the message is in the advertisement itself, enough to eliminate or
And so the day passes as I sit at my desk and look for
a special airplane.