It’s commonplace to hear the phase, “aviation is a small world.” Often times many people in aviation share mutual contacts without ever knowing it, just because of how unique the aviation industry really is… Today’s post is a little different, compared to the usual writing you’ll find here on ReviewBeforeFlight. Today, it’s story time, not too long and I promise you’ll find the story amazing if you give it a read…
During the early 2000’s I learned to fly… Starting in 2000 at the Taunton Municipal Airport, flying with Wagner Airways. In 2002, at the age of 14, I switched flight schools to KING Aviation-Mansfield, at the Mansfield Municipal Airport. My flight instructor was, Phil was a great teacher of flight.
One of my best friends from middle school and high school, Ryan Trudeau was also learning to fly at Taunton, then Mansfield and was one of Phil’s flight students as well. Ryan and I have never flown together, but our friendship goes back many years. In 2003, we were the flag bearers for the Taunton High School Air Force Junior ROTC color guard that placed 4th in the country at the annual national competition. Ryan and I were both cadet commanders of the AFJROTC unit and the only two students in the early days of the unit to earn pilot wings, when we each made our first solo flights.
After high school our paths diverged as Ryan attended Louisiana Tech University, where he would go on to become the assistant chief flight instructor for the program. Following that he spent time with the airlines before becoming a corporate pilot. Presently, Ryan flies Challenger jets, based in Dallas, Texas. With a “line kid” job lined up with KING Aviation-Mansfield, I attended Bridgewater State College (now University) after high school and went on to my current career in airport management while maintaining my flight instructor certificate.
Over the years Ryan and I kept in touch, talking on the phone every few months and occasionally running into one another while he was home visiting family or for a quick visit when our schedules permitted and he was in town. On Wednesday evening (4/29/15) I had just arrived home when my cell phone started ringing, seeing the name I answered right away, immediately thinking it had been too long since Ryan and I last spoke… We talked for about twenty minutes about each other’s jobs, families and then we traded some flying “war stories”…
Ryan went on to explain how he was flight instructing on the side again while he is home from flying the Challenger. He then said I’d never believe the story of the plane he was flying. Ryan went on to explain how his friend/student had found a very nice looking Piper Archer across the state of Texas a while back. Ryan and his student drove 6 hours across Texas to take a look at the plane.
Upon arriving at the airport, Ryan preformed a thorough preflight and was quickly impressed by the aircraft and told his friend he felt it was in great shape and a good value for the asking price. Ryan then explained that while he was doing the inspection he noticed a Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission registration sticker. Funny to think the place came from Massachusetts, just like Ryan, but the story gets even better!
While looking through the maintenance logs Ryan was even more shocked when he found annual inspections and other service performed during the late 2000’s by Casey Aviation. Casey Aviation is the maintenance shop based at, wait for it… The Mansfield Municipal Airport! Ryan didn’t know, that the story went even further though…
As soon as Ryan said that Casey maintained the plane I couldn’t believe it. I asked Ryan who the seller was, but he couldn’t remember the gentleman’s name. I was sure that if it was the same owner, I must know them from all the days/months/years I spent at 1B9 (Mansfield). When Ryan went on to tell me the tail number was, I knew immediately the owner when the plane was based at 1B9 was a great guy, Jay. As it turns out, it was Jay who sold the plane to Ryan’s student. At the end of the day, Ryan ended up flying the plane home for his student, the new owner!
The saying that “aviation is small” has never rung more true for me than this conversation from a few days ago… One of my best friends from high school, who I learned to fly with at Mansfield is now giving flight instruction in an airplane that was based at Mansfield during the time I worked there as a line rep and flight instructor. The strange connection that I’ve fueled and flown the same plane, all those years apart from Ryan now flying it is such a strange connection. But it goes to show you, aviation really is a small world!
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9