Boy, what a week we had celebrating Captain Johns 95th Birthday! We started with a Double Angel Flight Mission on Saturday, August 4th which took us from home base Luray to Pittsburgh PA. From there we flew our two passengers (Romeo and Tony) to Charlottesville VA where they would be attending camp.
On the following day, Sunday August 5th, Captain John was amazingly surprised at our Hanger when he showed up (thinking he was just going to show his wife Barbara our new hanger office) when he came around the corner to find nearly 60 wide grinning people eagerly awaiting to wish him a Happy Birthday! (I say he was “amazingly” surprised because it is very hard to surprise the Captain…… but we did!) It was an amazing time and I would like to thank each and everyone who turned out, and also to the ones who helped to make it happen. (Pictures of this great party are included below)
Our next Double Mission took place on Captain Johns actual Birthday (August 7th). We departed home base Luray and headed for Asheville NC where we picked up our passenger Elaine (we have flown Elaine several times before). From Asheville we flew back to home base Luray for a refueling and lunch in our hanger. Our great friend, Karen Culpepper, had joined us on our flight to pick up Elaine and she and her husband Jimmy provided us with a great lunch (topped off with homemade cookies) in our hanger while Danny fueled up 49Bravo (Jimmy and Danny are Luray Caverns Airport Employees) After our refueling and lunch, we said goodbye to Karen, Jimmy and Danny and departed once more, this time heading to northeast Philadelphia PA where Elaine would be having her appointments the next morning. After landing in Philly, we said goodbye to Elaine and headed off to a hotel to spend the night so that we could do another Double Angel Flight Mission the next day, taking Elaine back home!
So the next day (August 8th) we were ready for Elaine at Northeast Philly when her appointments were finished. We departed Northeast Philly and headed for our home base Luray so that we could once again refuel before heading Elaine back home to Asheville. After Danny refueled 49Bravo we departed home base heading to Asheville NC. After landing in Asheville we gave our goodbyes (and hugs) to Elaine and departed once again (after a passing storm) back to home base. We landed back at home base slightly after sunset. This day of flying included quite a few storms to deal with, but even after all of that, once snugging 49Bravo back into her hanger we had the most dangerous part yet ahead of us….. the drive home (in the dark)!
We had one day off, then on Friday (August 10th) we departed home base Luray again on another Double Mission…… this time back to Charlottesville VA to pick up Romeo and Tony and fly them back home to Pittsburgh PA after they had a great week at camp.
So this made a total of eight Angel Flight Missions within seven days over Captain Johns 95th Birthday! It was certainly a week of great flying, sharing great conversations with our passengers, Elaine, Romeo and Tony! Our week of flying totaled 20 hours in the air covering 2,154 nautical miles, crossing state boundaries 22 times, with one night spent in Philly. We experienced flying thru clear smooth air, poking holes into some bumpy clouds, in and out of rain, navigating around and between storms, headwinds and tailwinds, visual and instrument approaches, some mountain wave activity and great cooperation with ATC!
To date, this makes a total of 440 Angel Flight Missions completed by Captain John and 310 by me (Nevin) I would like to say what an honor it is for me to share in these flights with John and what a special treat it has been spending so much of Captain Johns Birthday week in the air with him!
Hope you all enjoy our following photos of eight missions in seven days!