The axiom in the subtitle provokes a smile in most of you…or at the very least a smirk. Not only does it endorse materialism, but it suggests the pursuit of toy accumulation is competitive. Whilst we will not acknowledge it, most of us settle for that not only is such a pursuit unattainable, it shouldn’t be the aim of our lives. That getting said, it absolutely sure is exciting to dream. I was fortuitous adequate to shell out a day performing just that with one common Piper Arrow and about 3,500 classic automobiles.
For a couple yrs I have irritated my spouse with the notion of getting a motor vehicle to match my delivery 12 months. The plan was unrealistic. The logistics of storage and maintenance intermingle with the trepidation that such an vehicle could only be observed and not touched. Immediately after my exposure to the common motor vehicle world by way of my JetBlue captain good friend, Mike Strauss, I realized that some toys can be classified as “drivers.” Motorists still have worth, but can also be loved further than the boundaries of a vehicle clearly show on a blue-sky Sunday in June.
With considerably supervision from Mike and yet another mutual good friend, Kage Barton, a retired Continental/United captain, I was certain to pull the bring about on my to start with classic motor vehicle. The buy set a grin on my facial area. As predicted, my spouse managed a hesitant smile, gracefully acknowledging the acquisition. Curiously plenty of, the vendor was a spry 90-yr-old who had been a Navy aviation electronics technician in the course of the Korean War. He admired pilots, even nevertheless we attempted to influence him that he ought to probably elevate his specifications. By way of him, I before long had the honorable obligation of turning out to be the up coming “custodian” for a 1957 Chrysler New Yorker.
Now in the entire world of classic autos, I was invited to acceptable situations, one particular of them being the earth-popular Mecum auction. There, toys in the sort of vehicles, boats, bikes, and engines are displayed for bidding in this kind of totally absurd quantities—from the paint-challenged to the ostentatious—that it boggles the thoughts. For this 12 months, the auction venues ended up at 13 spots across the U.S., inclusive of stay streaming and a common Tv display. In January, a person show took location in Kissimmee, Florida, which introduced the option for a 35-moment flight in my traditional 50-yr-previous plane.
A Friendly Race to Kissimmee
For all those who have been subsequent my tale of plane ownership woe, the Arrow returned to operational status in December following its six-month retreat in the lonely again corner of a maintenance hangar. An AMOC (substitute approach of compliance) was eventually granted following the Arrow’s failing an eddy current inspection final year—the outcome of minimal abrasions in the two bolt holes of the ideal-wing spar cap that were being tackled by an airworthiness directive instituted as a result of an incident in 2018. The AMOC simply just authorized for bolt holes that ended up only thousandths of an inch broader in diameter than Piper’s specs. It is in all probability the most secure Arrow wing in the world now.
With Mike departing in his Beechcraft Bonanza from Ormond Beach front, Florida (KOMN), and me departing Flagler Beach front (KFIN) in the Arrow, we coordinated a synchronous arrival into Kissimmee (KISM). My non-aviation passenger, Ken Bryan, is a neighborhood buddy and traditional car or truck aficionado. I briefed Ken airline-style—and apologized in advance for any lapse in my piloting skills—assigning him the job of cockpit doorway opener in the event of a takeoff crisis. Apart from gusty winds, it was a blue-sky morning.
Noting that the magenta line took us directly above DeLand airport (KDED) and its linked parachuting operation, I altered the heading to the west so as to stay away from a doable come upon with a vibrant nylon canopy. My get in touch with with Daytona Beach Strategy for flight adhering to disclosed a problem with Orlando ATC. They ended up limited-staffed, possibly an Omicron-similar challenge, so no flight following as a result of Course B airspace—an operation the controllers typically accommodated.
Making use of my new flight-deck assistant, ForeFlight, I began the finger tap dance of determining airspace altitudes and the finest frequency for monitoring Orlando Approach. A study course to the west of the Class B appeared the best choice. Sadly, it additional an excess 10 minutes to the trek, but Ken was enjoying the scenery anyhow. Disney Planet, with its permanent TFR, was the future possible airspace violation to avoid. I would obtain out afterwards that Mike had filed IFR in the Bonanza—with its benefit of ATC routing—so his only challenging job was to discover Kissimmee.
We landed with nominal concerns other than a wholesome crosswind. To Mike’s chagrin, we arrived ahead of him. Luckily, George Vernon, a previous American Airlines colleague and retiree was Mike’s passenger. George bore witness to the winner of our undeclared air race. I really do not recall performing that challenging on my JFK-to-London flights, but then we did not have that variety of entertaining.
Despite the fact that the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee was the venue for the auction, you might think about it a single of the world’s most expansive auto museums. The only variation was that the museum parts ended up all for sale. In 7 hours we only considered half of the automobiles.
A Classic Auto ‘Encyclopedia’
Mike is a human automobile encyclopedia, aiding our self-guided walking tour. He has an uncanny skill to procure the most obscure aspects from human body design to the type of carburetor set up. I believed he was just earning stuff up, but so considerably he’s only been incorrect twice regardless of my myriad of questions. He was chastised appropriately for becoming incorrect.
Performed with the melodic cadence of professional auctioneers, the auction alone was an incredibly efficient method. Most cars rolled on to the bidding stage ended up there for an average of two minutes. A cherry-pink 1959 Cadillac convertible that offered for $155,000 may well have taken yet another minute for a longer time right after a bidding war erupted. While we weren’t seated in the bidding area, I retained my arms in my pockets.
For the reason that we stayed until the conclude, our flight house was into a night sky. Nighttime traveling in a single-engine plane is not my normal practice—having been spoiled with the luxury of a refined jet and a proficient copilot—but I uncovered the bravery nevertheless. With out assistance from Signature staff, acquiring paid the “facility fee” that had literally elevated overnight to $50, we walked to our airplanes situated at a dim, remote place of the ramp. We removed chocks and orange hazard cones on our possess respective walkarounds.
This time with the support of an IFR flight system, Ken and I introduced skyward. We were dazzled by the lights underneath and a show of fireworks from Epcot. Regardless of a rheostat failure that did not let for dimming the panel lights, I managed to locate the runway again household, albeit with a landing that was a little firmer than ideal.
It was a excellent common automobile and a great classic airplane working day. And no, there is not a probability that I will die with the most toys.
This report was initial printed in the Q2 2022 edition of Traveling Journal.