Tuesday raced by like a horse on steroids. I offered the director job to Kelly with a probationary period. The extra ten thousand a year would be the tipping point in getting the house they wanted.
Courtney made the announcement at the site and put him in charge as we had discussed. She also informed the group that the North six were leaving on Thursday and she and her group the first of the week.
I left KCC after lunch. Lorrie and Roseanne were scheduled back at two and we were all going to Easton to watch the arrival of the Bombardier 200 and inspect it. A corporate check for the six month lease was already made out.
Our two chief pilots each had pilot-in-command time on the 200 and our 2 mechanics both had certifications that covered most of the 200, the six of us along with Jeanna and both of Lorrie’s administrators were all going.
Not one but two Bombardier 200’s did a low pass fly by. Then they did a touch and go with barely 500 yards between them before they finally landed. If the town did not know big jets were landing they did when they finished.
They did this on the 5500 foot 22/4 runway. The delivery pilots had done their research well because there were all kinds of noise abatement approaches at this airport.
Even though this was a small county airport, it had a partially manned control tower. The tower was built during the Bush administration. VP Dick Chaney and several more VIP’s had summer houses at St Michaels and flew in regularly. Dick was well known for his goose hunting parties with international VIP’S using the local hunting guides.
The Bombardier’s made their way on the taxi way, past the long row of private and business hangers, coming to a stop in front of the terminal building side by side. The terminal had a jockey that directed parking planes in front of the terminal. As soon as the planes stopped moving his job was to place a pair of wheel chocks at the nose gear.
It was then that I noticed the Channel 14 news chopper sitting off to the side of the terminal. The pilot and news reporter who had been eating at the airport café were now outside filming the growing crowd. A lot of the mechanics in those private hangers had watched the events and made their way for a closer look.
We were standing on the tarmac looking at the planes as the pilots, co-pilots and the Bombardier sales rep walked up to us asking for Lorrie Smithfield of JBG. After the normal round of introductions we walked to the planes to look them over. The first thing that I noticed was that both planes had the gold and black circled JBG logo on the vertical tail section.
Both planes had been flown from fresh refitting at the Bombardier factory. The exteriors were polished and waxed. Both were fitted out in the 50 passenger mode but in a different style. The interiors were completely new and they had the new smell. I noticed the tail had the setup for two stewardesses.
The pilots, co-pilots and the sales man had each taken one of us and did a walk through describing all the features. They had done the same thing when we walked around looking at the exterior.
Jack Rush – our chief pilot – motioned me from the group and we made our way to the cockpit. When he was the pilot on some of our flights he often let me sit in the co-pilot seat on the G5 and the King Air.
I think it was the instructor in him that did it but he would walk me through all the planes gauges and instruments, explaining what was normal and how they reacted to control input. He even let me have the controls sometimes on long flights.
Today he did the same thing explaining the controls. The cockpit of the 200 was larger and more complex. Many of the instruments and gauges did the same thing but there were many more, and the avionics were more technical. By the time Jack was finished the group was ready for a demo flight.
I took my place in a passenger seat with the others as the pilots took us for a flight. It was a nice flight. Lorrie and our pilots were enthused. The sales man explained why they brought 2 planes. The passenger layout was different and they were going to leave both planes with us for thirty days to try out and would only bill us for the one plane. At the end of 30 days they would pick up one we did not want.
The sales group supervised the refueling by Easton Air Fuel Services to make sure they knew how to do it properly. Then one of our pilots flew the sales group back to Omaha to the factory in one of our other planes, after 20 minutes of signing contracts.
The Channel 14 news and camera persons were on the tarmac as we disembarked the plane and did another walk around and asked for a statement as we were leaving. The accident report had been made public this morning.
“The report speaks for itself as far as it goes. It does not explain why and we will never know why Jeff took the path that he did. The report does little to relieve the pain and sorrow felt by the Justice family,” I said.
The reporter then asked if we were moving our flight operations to Easton. “No, just expanding and these planes were too large for the Island airport in its current configuration. It’s a shame because Island Airport is so convenient to our operations and these planes will add 10 more full time jobs”
Lorrie had put several contract flights on the schedule for them that could also have been filled by multiple G5s if we had rejected the 200’s.
One of them was tomorrow. It was to a manufacturer’s convention in Atlanta. Several groups from the industrial park were going. It would have taken all three G5s in full passenger configuration and 3 pilots, 3 copilots and 3 stewardesses.
Now, one pilot, one copilot and 2 stewardesses were going to handle the flight. Lorrie was going to change the flight designations and notify the people on our way home. Jack Rush and Toby Nash were pilot and copilot, Andrea Bush and Lea Tippins were the stewardesses. The snacks and airplane food were already boxed and waiting in the office.
We were home at 7 and enjoying Lorrie and Marcy’s excitement about the condition of the 200s.
At seven thirty all of our cell phones rang an alarm tone at the same time. Something was terribly wrong somewhere. Before it could have only been at the gym, now it could be anywhere.
It was Kelly Pepper, “There has been an incident, Courtney is with Janice Koons in an ambulance and they are on the way to the hospital. Glenda and Erica are being checked out and may have to go too, and then the police want to interrogate them.”
I turned to Lorrie and said, “Find a plane and a pilot to Rochester.”
Then I asked, “What happened?”
Edit by Alfmeister