If you’ve been following our General Aviation Serves America campaign, you’ve heard me talk about GA’s remarkable power to connect people despite distances, and sometimes even across time. Well just this week, I experienced those connections first hand, thanks to a serendipitous fuel stop.
Returning to AOPA’s Frederick, Md., headquarters after a series of meetings in Arizona, I decided to make a stop for food and fuel in Ponca City, Okla. The service at Greenwood’s Oklahoma Jet was friendly and efficient. And when the alert staff recognized the 4GA N-number of AOPA’s jet, they asked if Ponca City Mayor Homer Nicholson—an active AOPA member—could stop by and say hello.
Naturally I was delighted to meet both Mayor Nicholson and reporter Louise Abercrombie of the Ponca City News, who wanted to know why I had chosen Ponca City as a stop.
The answer was twofold. First, it offered a GA airport with fuel and great food right along my route. Second, it was my mother’s hometown, and the place my aunt and uncle spent most of their lives.
But the connection, it turned out, went further. I soon learned that Mayor Nicholson knew my family and was familiar with my uncle’s industrial welding business. Abercrombie had been working at the local newspaper when I visited Ponca City with my parents as a young boy in the 1960s.
What began as a convenient fuel stop in a familiar locale from my distant past turned into a wonderful opportunity to connect not only with that past, but also with the wonderful people who make up that community today. You can’t do that on the airlines!