Julie Walker

The people you meet

April 15, 2008 by Julie Summers Walker, Managing Editor

Last year AOPA Pilot launched its series highlighting America’s airports, and I was one of the lucky people who got to contribute to the story. We chose 11 airports located all over the country, and by some kismet I got my first choice, Friday Harbor Airport in the San Juan Islands of Washington state.

This was a pretty big deal for me on many levels–I’m still a student pilot with 65 hours but no solo because I still can’t shake my lack of confidence; I’m a local Frederick girl who is not widely traveled; and for the past 20 years I have been raising my two sons pretty much on my own. So to travel across the country alone and then board a seaplane to the islands was stretching my boundaries.

There were four of us on the Kenmore seaplane, and we took off in Seattle’s normal weather–rain and fat, thick clouds. When we were enveloped in one of the clouds I reached over to the man beside me and said, “You’re going to have to hold my hand.” He chuckled and said that his wife–a former Pan Am stewardess and GA pilot–still sometimes has that reaction. Dave works for Boeing in Seattle, and he and Bianca have a home in Roche Harbor, Wash. I met Bianca when we landed and thanked her for sharing her husband’s hand. She and I still correspond–isn’t e-mail great?

I was met at the airport by Charlie Lindenberg (don’t you love the name?), a member who had submitted a couple of stories to AOPA Pilot. He and his wife took me to dinner, and I learned about halibut cheeks–didn’t eat them, but probably should have.

At the hotel that evening I overheard two guys talking “pilot talk” and asked if they were pilots. The cocky response I got from one prompted me to respond uncharactistically–”Well, I’m the managing editor of AOPA Pilot!” Richard S. Drury and I talked into the evening, and the next day he introduced me to his neighbor Dodie Gann–yes, Ernest Gann’s wife–and I had dinner with Richard and his wife at their fabulous Friday Harbor home. Richard is the author of My Secret War, which details his flying in Vietnam. We also toured his hangar, which at the time housed his biplane.

Charlie Lindenberg called me today just to catch up and made me remember what a small, but wonderful world GA is.

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One Response to “The people you meet”

  1. Brandon Freeman Says:

    Ms. Walker,
    I was very pleased to read your report on FHR. As a Seattle-area resident (and Kenmore employee…I can’t recall if I was working that day!!), I thought you captured the essence of this small, island-bound airport quite well. It is a joy to be able to fly into the San Juan Islands on a clear day (CAVU conditions don’t come around very often as you well found out). I hope you get the opportunity to come out to Washington again, preferably in the left seat next time!

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