The Mission: The Dragonfly (part 5)

Deborah Hendrick on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

“This is amazing. I can’t believe you live at an airfield!” said Elijah.

“You of all people should understand what it costs to keep an airplane.” said Ginny. “I couldn’t let the Dragonfly sit in a communal hangar. Some big brute King Air might bump her, not to mention all those guys wanting to touch her.”

Eli carefully put his hands in his pockets. “I see your point. I expect a lot of people would want to touch her,” said Eli, watching Ginny inspect her airplane. “So tell me all about her.”

Ginny turned and rewarded him with a blinding smile, that reminded him of taking off in an F-22: zero to Oh God in a heartbeat. “The Dragonfly is a 1947 Cessna 140, a tail-dragger, as you can well see. I’m the third owner. Less than a dozen people have flown her, and that includes my father and three brothers. I knew the owner–knew that he had to sell her. I have all the logs, every scrap of paper ever generated on her. Even the original sales documents. My parents may have bought the plane, but I was bequeathed a legend. She is exactly as I got her, except I named her and painted the small dragonfly on each side of the cowling.”

“And the Airstream?” he asked.

“The USS Little Sister. It was my parents’. They bought it when they thought the family was complete. It wasn’t, as it turned out. I spent my last two years of college living in it, and when I graduated, I asked to buy it and bought a new pickup to pull it.”

“So you can back a trailer too?” Eli asked, grinning.

“It’s not pretty, but yeah, I can back a trailer.” Ginny was tempted to punch him in the arm. “It just made sense financially, to put us all under one roof,” said Ginny. “And I like living here. There’s a great sense of community, although in my case it’s like having two dozen fathers watching over me. Once I open that hangar door, it won’t be thirty minutes before three people stop by to check on me.”

“Let’s crank that baby up then … and meet the neighbors.”

“You open the door, and I’ll get us something cold to drink,” said Ginny.

Soon Ginny was back with an ice bucket, a pitcher of tea, and two tall glasses on a tray. She directed Eli to the lawn chairs and a little table and they made themselves comfortable in the afternoon shade with just enough breeze to make the heat bearable.

But Ginny was wrong. They had five visitors in thirty minutes. Two came by in a golf cart–just out driving and stopped to say hello, and the FBO stopped by to tell her that fuel was going up two cents. The neighbor from across the drive was making barbecue sauce, and came over to borrow some whiskey, which Ginny had (a good brand Eli noted, as she handed her neighbor the bottle). And the old fellow from two rows away peddled over on his bicycle to give her a snapshot of his restored L-2, with its invasion stripes at last, finally, painted on. Eli stood from instinct, and Ginny hopped up to hug the man’s neck.

“You fly a tail-dragger?” he wanted to know, looking at Eli.

“Elijah Madden,” he said, offering his hand for a handshake. “No sir, but I am in the Air Force.”

“But all of Ginny’s people are Navy.”

“Yes, Sir. We’ve got the Joint Chiefs looking into it,” said Eli with a smile.

“You’ll do then,” he laughed, climbed back on his bicycle and rode off with a wave.


“Are you full? I have some ice cream …” offered Ginny, worried that Eli might still be hungry after two BLT sandwiches, three-quarters of a cantaloupe, and most of a package of pretzels.

“Oh no. I’m fine. Can I help you clean up the kitchen?” Since the kitchen was five feet from the living room, Ginny could only laugh at him.

“Why don’t you pick out some music … the kitchen’s a bit small for two.”

Ginny’s CDs were stacked in a hanging rack suspended from the the ceiling. There were only two dozen or so, with room for hundreds.

“This is all your music?” he asked, somewhat bewildered, and then he started laughing and pulling them all down until they were scattered around him on the sofa.

“You listen to jazz!” he exclaimed.

“Um-hm. I’m still a beginner. I just got so tired of what passes for popular music that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I packed up everything, and stored it in the hangar. I didn’t pay enough attention growing up, but my Dad listens to jazz. I remembered a few names to get me started. I allow myself one new CD each payday. You’re so surprised–don’t you like jazz?”

“I love jazz, and you’ve got a fantastic start here.” Eli started reading off names. “John Lewis, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Dave Brubeck. Wes Montgomery. Sonny Rollins,” he said, and dropped the Wes Montgomery into the CD player.”

“Well, like I said, it’s names I remembered from my Dad’s collections, which now spans almost fifty years and five mediums, and he won’t let any of it go,” she said. “So you really do like jazz?”

“I always knew I’d be a pilot, but the other thing I do is play the piano. Jazz in particular. I started listening to jazz when I was a teenager because my flying instructor listened to jazz. I’d been taking piano lessons since I was five. When I exhibited a genuine flicker of talent as a jazz pianist, my mother tracked down an old guy who’d been a studio musician for a record company. He was great and had played with everyone. I don’t know why he wasn’t on the road himself … maybe he wanted to sleep in his own bed every night … but he agreed to take me on as a student. I studied with him until I went off to the Air Force Academy. But I never stopped playing. I have an upright grand in my apartment, back in Virginia, Virginia.”

“I wondered how long it would take you to say that,” Ginny said, and then she did punch him in the arm. “Can I take you flying tomorrow?”

“That’s my line.”

“Do you get good results with it?”

“Not bad!”

Cessna Taildragger

Technorati : , , , ,

Topics: The Mission

2 Responses to “The Mission: The Dragonfly (part 5)”

Eric Says:
August 2nd, 2006 at 10:12 pm

I have a friend who earlier this year bought a house adjacent to the runway at an airstrip south of Midland. The house came with a 20,000 square foot hangar that will easily hold six 140s with room to spare. The previous owner used it to build experimental aircraft.

My friend doesn’t have his own plane, but he’s a co-owner in a Cessna 172 which is hangared in the airstrip’s main building.

I’m not particularly envious of his new home…but I’d kill to have that hangar!

Deborah Says:
August 3rd, 2006 at 8:12 am

Me too! Imagine having all that room for your toys …


Leave a Comment