Originally published July 1998
Raid Site: Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
The old cliché that the world is getting smaller was never more apt than the day I got a call from Bill Grahn about an upcoming fly-in. "Not unusual," you say. "We see Bill all the time and he's often in the thick of things when it comes to chapter events" might have been a typical response. Well, this is the other Bill Grahn, and he's in New Hampshire. He also happens to put Sr. behind the name to distinguish himself from the younger Bill of California fame.
Bill Grahn, Sr., is president of EAA Chapter 917. Bill the Younger had read my last contribution to the newsletter about the winter fly-in at Alton Bay, New Hampshire, and mentioned in conversation I was living just south of dad's home in New Durham. (No, I don't know why everything is New in New England.) Bill the Wiser wasn't about to let a possible recruit from the Greatest Chapter in the Known Universe get through the summer without a little local hospitality, so without hesitation, my call from Bill Grahn.
Chapter 917 sponsors a fly-in and barbecue/ potluck each year at Wolfeboro. Wolfeboro is a small community on the eastern shore of Lake Winnepesaukee in central New Hampshire. Around this part of the world, the area is known as the Lakes Region and a fair amount of big-city money is invested in lake-front cottages of anywhere from 500 square feet to about 10,000 plus. The bunch that use a phrase like "We're summering at the lakes..." have the big ones. Wolfeboro is not unlike La Jolla or Sedona when it comes to ambiance and the number of establishments that price well in excess of rational just to give you the flavor.
But you're not interested in money, or ostentatious behavior, or tanned hard-body babe/hunk sight seeing, so on to airplanes. (Photos by Pacific Flyer; hunks included for equal opportunity political incorrectness.)
The airport at Wolfeboro is not quite what you would expect. On the sectional it's listed as Lakes Region--probably for those who have a hard time with proper geographical names on sectionals that don't jive with their familial land holdings in these parts--in other words, the one's who were born with too much money. The elevation is listed at 580 feet. There's a decided slope to the runway so I figure it starts 2000 feet back at about 400 feet. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seems pretty steep for a runway. Landings are upslope and a proper flare is a little unsettling given the fact you lose the horizon as the airport property pitches down at the top of the runway. (Better than Catalina where you lose it mid-runway.) Pranging the nose is probably a fine art here for conventionally geared planes.
The fly-in was small, but the hospitality was big. Lots of tail draggers and a nice weather day were the draw. I had the family in tow for the event and despite the lack of younger males, my two daughters found enough interesting airplanes to keep them busy looking and wandering for several hours.
Moms, Kids, Cub
Wing Walker in Training
I must say I liked Bill Grahn Jr.'s parents a lot. Very nice people who only grudgingly accept that California and Edwards AFB are a good place for their son to live and work. While mingling with the folks I heard lots of Bill Jr. stories including some about unplanned landings in places not too far from the airport. Bill Jr. is kind of famous in these parts for his off-field landing skills. Bill's mom seemed to like us so much (my daughters can be charming and my wife makes up for my irascible nature) that I could swear an adoption was about to be proffered. I just might accept since Bill's Dad has a very nice J-3 project going and Mom (it just comes naturally Bill) was ever so gracious.
The airplanes were more like I would expect at a fly-in than I found when I was up this way in February for the ice event. Nothing big or terribly expensive, with the exception of rather beefy Yak. (Bad pun not intended.) Of course there were a few planes down on their tires and looking a little sad, but that's not unusual at small airports. There's also a nice small-facility FBO on the field and lots of tie down space. It's just the sort of place you could fly to on a sunny afternoon for a picnic and some tall tales with friends. Sort of reminded me of Rosamond, except for the lack of houses, wind, desert, restaurant, proximity to a major military facility, etc.
Bill Jr. Flying Skills Review In Progress by Bill Sr.
Since I've become the chapter's unofficial On The Road Detachment (we could make it official!), I've included some photos. That's mostly for those of you who suffer AADD, Airplane Attention Deficit Disorder, when an airplane photo isn't included. I also wanted to show I was properly uniformed for the event. The snow plow and blower just behind the red/white (he thinks we can do color!) pole in the photo below is a little local service to assure you the guys who run this place are ready for winter. The pole is how they measure snow depth in the winter time.
Old Planes, Old Plows
So now that I've embarrassed Bill Grahn Jr. sufficiently, more of you can send me the home address of your family and I'll go get a bag full of stories about you to tell in the newsletter. I'll just write up the one's fit to print in the newsletter and offer everything else for sale. I will accept blackmail payments in the form of parts, labor, and abundant praise. And Bill, I think you're family life in New Hampshire is safe, at least until Christmas or the first flight of the J-3.
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Contents of The Leading Edge and these web pages are the viewpoints of the authors. No claim is made and no liability is assumed, expressed or implied as to the technical accuracy or safety of the material presented. The viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of Chapter 1000 or the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Revised -- 19 March 1999