The Liberty Gazette
May 3, 2016Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: One of my all-time favorite pieces of aviation writing is the article written by Rick Durden and published in his column, “The Pilot’s Lounge”, in the super-popular Avweb, July 16, 2007, just a month after we began this column. Rick’s been writing a long time - that piece was #115 in his space in Avweb.
Because of all that, I can nearly forgive him of the lawyer part. While “The Loneliness of a Town Without an Airport” is too long to copy full length here (although Rick did give us permission), we’d like to share the conclusion - but, not before we summarize how he got there.
Rick’s Saturday morning flight in a friend’s Great Lakes Biplane brought lovely views of places he might want to visit with his wife. Quaint towns begging for his company cast their beauty high enough to reach the 1,000’ where Rick was flying, and he wondered if they were friendly and would welcome him in a way that would make him think that would be the perfect place to live.
“‘Hi, I'm here. I'll trade you a ride in the biplane for some ice cream.’ I wonder if it would work?”
Sadly, he found no runway in this one lovely town, and so began his explanation of the economic advantages of airports and how livable cities have them.
Conclusion: die-able cities do not.
Or, as Rick said: “I could not help but be saddened by the stultifying loneliness a young man or woman must feel to be stuck in a town that does not show any sign of looking outward by having something so simple as an airport runway, that time-honored symbol of a gateway to adventure. Are the kids there easy prey for the beaten-down adults who tell them to quit dreaming, to quit being "foolish" and be content with what they have been given and their lot in life? Are those kids easier prey for the dealer who tells them that this here meth will take them away from this crummy town?
“How can the people of a town be so insular, so close-minded and content with the mundane, as to not have the most basic of airports? My thoughts returned to my initial desire to visit the town, and I wondered whether I would enjoy the people I might meet who had proclaimed to all who cared to see that they were content and attuned to just beetling across the surface of life rather than living it fully. Would there be anyone there with any sense of creativity, of adventure, of fascination with ideas beyond the horizon? Would they be a town of risk avoiders, insurance salespeople, belt-and-suspenders wearers whose idea of a fabulous time was to go to the local bar and get blotto while watching professional wrestling on the television?
“As I flew into the evening, I concluded that it was a very pretty town. Yet I suspected the people of a town without an airport might well possess other bad habits that are not so immediately observable. Life is short enough that I'm not willing to risk a visit to find out. After all, I'm not going have time to get to see all the places I know for certain I want to see.
“Nevertheless, I will feel sorry for the residents of the town without an airport, especially the kids. They know not what they are missing.”
Read Rick’s entire piece at Avweb.com, The Pilot’s Lounge, #115.