Last year about this time, we were sitting at our computers when all of a sudden we heard this horrendous noise come streaking overhead. Of course we hopped up and nearly broke our necks getting down the stairs to see it. All we could see was this tiny gray plane racing across the sound toward the beach. We thought it might be a jet from up at the airbase at Cherry Point, NC. But he was gone so quickly – we couldn’t see the markings. We asked around and the scuttlebutt was that this was a modified old jet and the owner was someone from Raleigh.
Fast forward to this year and this time I was determined to be at the little OIB airport when he came in for a landing. I’d heard him take off and knew that typically he flew around for about 10 to 15 minutes or so. I grabbed my camera and raced up to the airport and just sat. I wasn’t alone – there were several trucks and a couple of carloads of people waiting around too. We’re used to seeing and hearing Piper Cubs and even a crop duster which sounds amazingly like a P-51 but this baby was a different animal altogether! And after the noise he makes overhead, I was totally unprepared for how quietly he slipped in toward landing – well, duh, now that I think of it – the noise was behind him! At any rate, trying to adjust my camera and follow him down at his breakneck speed, was a little harder than I thought. Finally got him on the 3rd shot but he was more than halfway down the runway!
Turns out – he’s a retired pilot and he found this old jet and has totally refurbished/renovated it so that he can “play” on the weekends down here at the beach. I did some research on this plane – the Aero-L-39- Albatross – and it turns out that this is the most widely used jet trainer in the world. There are possible 2800 of these jets still being used in various forces all around the globe. In fact, think I saw a group of them perform at the air show in Daytona a couple of years ago – The Black Diamonds. Just didn’t know what they were but pretty sure I have some photos.
This plane was developed in the 60’s in Czechoslovakia and introduced in 1971. This particular one looks like it was manufactured last year. Everything is so pristine. The finish on the inside looked just a shiny as the gorgeous gray on the outside. The brand new instruments were sparkling. And if your heart can stand it, he’s happy to take you for a ride in this rocket! Yes, it’s expensive but what a tale to tell your grandchildren. $900 will get you a ride on the Albatross but believe it or not – that’s a bargain because the gas for this baby is about $1600 per ride so he’s doing it almost as much for the fun than to just pay for the trip. And you can consider it a bargain! It’s about twice that to fly in the P51 and in this one he’ll take you on a twisting turning, dodging and spinning heck of a ride. Did I do it? Are you kidding me? Do I look like I was born last night?
But you can bet that when I hear that baby crank up and scream overhead, I’ll be scrambling out the door to watch his antics over the water. He did seven flights last Saturday. We were there when he brought the last passenger down and the poor young passenger was soaking wet!! The pilot was cool and dry but the passenger looked like he’d been through the ringer! He loved every terrifying second of the flight!
OK – the waterway is calling me. I am trying to rake up all the sharp oyster shell clusters that can cut your feet before the grands get here.
Happy memory making and take some pictures of some of your favorite things and share your pages, ok?
Paper: Military Digital Kit
Fonts: Kremlin, Flux Architect