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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.

Dude, 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'.

This 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.

The 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 ever new?"

The logbooks tell a story, albeit a coded one. Sometimes the message is in the advertisement itself, enough to eliminate or pique interest.

And so the day passes as I sit at my desk and look for a special airplane.



Steve Weaver Aircraft Sales - Route 3 Box 696 - Phillipi, West Virginia - Phone 304-457-4523 - Fax 304-457-4799 For a restorative vacation for both your body and your soul, consider a week on the banks of the unforgettable Tygart River, in the heart of West Virginia. Click for more.

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