From the Right Seat
By Pete Rafle ATP CFII
At the beginning of a new year, I am offering a retelling of one of my early memories of working at 39N. We can do many things in an airplane. How many of you have launched a mission to spread ashes of a poor departed soul? So, how do you do it? Who is going to teach you the proper technique, so you don’t fill the cabin with ashes, or strip the paint off the tail with abrasive bits of bone? Never thought about that did you?
I was a part time instructor at 39N arriving in the morning with only a couple of flights on the schedule. The airport owner, Dick Nierenberg, spotted me and directed me to his office. He said that since I did not have a student for a couple of hours, he had a job for me. “ Have you ever spread ashes from an airplane?” he asked. I replied that I had not, but I was certain that I could do it. Dick said, “No, you cannot do it until I teach you how. I you screw up, the ashes will either be sucked back into the cockpit, or they could be blown back and remove paint from the tail like it was sand blasted!” He explained that the undertaker and family would be at the airport shortly and would watch as I departed
for the “drop zone”. He stressed that this is a solemn job, and we need to respect the emotions of the family. I imagined black clothed mourners standing on the ramp, weeping, as I slowly taxied past them.
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