A Childhood Dream, Pt. 2 - Brian's Version

My name is Brian, and I would like to tell you a little story…


About seven months ago I received a phone call from an unknown number in Tennessee and let it roll over to voicemail. "Hello," the caller said, "my name is Wendy, and you don't know me, and you are probably going to think I'm a little nuts, but ..."

Rather the way most good stalker stories start, I suspect.

Wendy is a corporate recruiter and her job is - well - stalking people (her quote, not mine), and apparently she has been working pretty hard to track me down. You see, her husband - Zach - grew up in Indiana, and Zach's grandfather owned Baby for twenty years. Fond memories of his grandfather taking him flying when he was a young boy. Stories. Photos. He showed me a crayon drawing he made as a young boy. It's Baby all dressed in blue and white. He was devastated, at twelve years of age, when his grandfather had a heart attack, lost his (flight) medical status and sold the plane. He has since passed away.

"I'm really bad at surprises and was wondering if I could ask a favor ..."

Zach grew up flying with his grandpa, couldn't get it out of his blood. They own a plane (it's actually their third plane). What's more, he is now the airport manager at the county airport in Winchester, a small town in Tennessee. Draw intersecting lines from Chattanooga (where the Choo Choo is), Huntsville (where the rockets are) and Nashville (where music apparently comes from) and the dot at the center is Winchester. He has occasionally stalked Baby from time to time as she has changed hands. Apparently there is a dentist in Georgia by the name of Brian Olson who may have recently received an email from Zach about the plane. Apparently said dentist never responded - wrong Brian Olson. A bucket list goal? Some day buy his grandfather's plane.

"It would mean so much to Zach if he could see his grandfather's airplane one more time, and maybe go for a ride ..."

While I keep my social accounts locked down pretty tight, a review I left of the aviation maintenance group that keeps Baby in tip-top shape showed up as public, and when they responded in-kind with a photo of Baby and their happiness to work on such a beaut ... Wendy found me. She got my contact information from one of their senior staff, who knows me pretty well and suspected I would be ok if they shared that info.

"So ... I hope you will listen to this message and call me back ..."

I don't normally call stalkers back (not that I've ever had been put in that situation, mind you) but I did call Wendy.

In the six weeks following, we'd been scheming a way to pull the ultimate surprise on Zach without him figuring it out. He can track inbound aircraft to the airport real-time, he's at the airport every day, he listens to the radio.

After six weeks of business travel for everyone, aircraft maintenance, rainy weather, etc. ... clear skies were in the forecast and it looked like today was going to be the day. Baby and I packed up and flew north. Wendy found an excuse to go to the airport with Zach this morning. The rest of the airport staff commandeered the radio and were totally in on what was to transpire. I filed a flight plan from Atlanta to a different airport (and canceled it when I got close) so that I wouldn't show up on his monitor and only announced myself as a "white Cessna" until we sprung it on the guy and told him to go outside because an old friend was coming to say hello. And then I landed and taxied up to him. Gotcha, said the look on Wendy's face to Zach.

Not much work got done at the Winchester airport on this morning.

We spent the morning pouring over an old photo album that Zach's grandfather had with photos of the plane, of destinations, of Zach and family. We told some stories. I got the inside scoop on some new awesome flying destinations to take Sara. Class acts, Wendy and Zach. I think we found kindred spirits.

And then we went flying in his grandfather's airplane.

Sara and I will be traveling back up north to see Zach and Wendy soon. We have a much-anticipated lunch and dinner date with them, and apparently there is a kick-ass B&B not far from the airport.

Zach - I know this made your day. I hope you realize how much this made my day as well. #babylovestofly

“Guest post from Brian D. Olson who graciously allowed us to post the story from his point of view. This was a special day for all involved. Thanks again Brian! Zach & Wendy”