Short Final: ‘After You!’

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In the early 1980s, when I was an admissions recruiter for East Coast Aero Technical School (now part of the National Aviation Academy network) at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, I was on my way to nearby Beverly Airport to represent ECAT at an Aviation Day event. On the seat next to me in the Cessna 150 was a cutaway cylinder from a Pratt & Whitney R2800 radial, which made for an eye-catching booth display, the better to attract applicants to ECAT’s A&P program. As I was cleared to take off, I saw Bob Ferguson starting to taxi out in his recently acquired F4U Corsair warbird—complete with all 18 real-world cylinders of its R2800. Maybe he was going my way?

As I cleared the Hanscom airspace, there wasn’t much time to call in to the Beverly tower. From about 10 miles out, they acknowledged my inbound call and, surprisingly, cleared me to land. Then I looked out to my left to see the unmistakable silhouette of the gull-wing Corsair quickly overtaking me and heard Bob calling the Beverly tower controller, who clearly did not have any idea what a Corsair was. The controller responded to Bob with, “OK, uh, Corsair, you’re clear to land, number two behind a Cessna.”

After a short, awkward pause on the frequency, I keyed the mic and suggested, “How about you let that Corsair go in ahead of me? He’s going to get there a lot quicker than I am.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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