New Places and New People
As told by Larry Thompson
†I got the idea to start flying from my father. He said, ďLearn to fly or else!Ē He really did. He was the instigator of this whole thing.
I learned how to fly back in Iowa. My father was an instructor. He taught me how to fly. When I first started flying, I was 9 or 10 years old, something like that.
This place used to be called Homer Air Service when I bought it. I couldnít have that name, so I just said drop the Service. We donít give service anymore! So we just named it Homer Air.
I started flying people around here in 1974. Thatís when I bought this place from Diane Martin.
Before that I used to work in Bristol Bay, out of Port Heiden, and Dilllingham. All these places like Port Heiden, Pilot Point, and Dillingham have airstrips.
Originally, this place was started and owned by Gene Lawrence in the mid 40ís. Gene Lawrence and his wife came up here during the Second World War to work for the Northstar line, which was later PNA, Pacific Northern. He started this as an air taxi maintenance shop. Gene had a heart attack or something and passed away and his wife ran it for sometime while Jay Carroll managed it. Then Jay Carroll bought it from Lois Lawrence. Lois now lives in California somewhere.
Jay Carroll owned it in 1954 and 1955. He owns the Sunny Chevron Station in Homer. He retired and sold it to Ray Martin, who was killed in Jakalof Bay in 1971 or 1972. I bought it from his wife Diane in 1974. so this place has been around for a long time.
Iíve landed on the water with floats, on beaches all over this place, on glaciers, on homesteads and fields, I deep snow when I shouldnít have landed in deep snow, out on the tundra in between bushes, things like that I guess.
The only thing I like about my job is all the different people you meet, like all the people in Port Graham, English Bay, and the people who come from Anchorage and all around. Thatís the only good thing about this job.
The things I donít like about my job are working 7 days a week, and the fact that you canít seem to make any money. It all goes to the insurance company.
The windiest weather that Iíll fly in, depends on how rough it is. If itís blowing steady, 30 miles an hour, is about it. If it starts getting gusty and awfully rough, then forget it.
We donít have a schedule that we use everyday. We schedule a certain number of hours a day. Every day is different.
I go to Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, over to Bristol Bay, Port Heiden, Chignik, and Perryville, clear down there. Sand Point, sometimes, Seward, Cordova, Icy Bay, Pilot Point, Port Graham, English Bay, Seldovia, Pearl Island, Port Chatham, the beaches on the west side around McNeil River, where people take pictures of the bears, Kodiak, Dillingham, Bethel, Nome, Aniak, up at the mines up there, anywhere in the state of Alaska really.
Linda Williams takes care of all the calls and sends out the bills, She does all the paperwork.
Now I have 4 planes. We do an inspection every hundred hours, and an annual inspection. When we get a certain amount of time on an engine, we have to change the engine. Like the blue 206 out there. Weíre changing the engine on it.
Iíve flown many different planes. DC-3, Beech 18, Supercub, Cessna 206 and 185, multi-engine and single-engine planes.
One Time when I was flying Outside (lower 48 states), I was flying through a thunder and lightning storm, with a lot of rain, When the lightning struck, it got really close to the airplane. There was a big flash, and for a long time you couldnít see anything. It was so bright. That was a bad one. But I donít go on many scary fights.
The long flights where youíre up high get tiresome, because you donít get to see that much. The short ones get kind of boring, because youíre loading and unloading and stopping and going so much. But if you get a good, long flight to a place youíve never been before, and the weather is good, thatís interesting.
I fly all year around, in wind and snow and blow! Almost seven days a week, except duck hunting season. Then I go duck hunting. Weíre closed on Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Yearís Day.
In the wintertime we close up at 3:00 p.m., because it gets dark early. In the summertime, we close at 11:00 p.m., because we get tired, although itís still light later that that.
The best pilots are those who really know how to fly an airplane, and are mechanically inclined. Some people are good pilots, and others donít seem to have their act together. Some people always forget to do little things, and those little things are the ones that can get you in trouble. Someone who gets along well with people, who doesnít take themselves too seriously, and realize itís a job and everybodyís got to be doing something. Itís a good thing to do.
The Night Before Christmas, Port Graham Style
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through Port Graham
The people were eating
Smoked salmon and ham.
The fish nets were piled
By bats and by sheds
And Elenore was cooking
A pot of fish heads.
The children were roaring up and down on their Hondas
And parents relaxed
While steaming in banias.
The North wind was blowing
Gusting 70 knots
Not even the brave
Were pulling their pots.
Cook Inlet was grounded
Nobody could fly
Santa couldnít make it,
The children would cry,
When out on the airstrip
There arose such a clatter
I sprang from my snow machine
To see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes
Should be there
But a bright blue plane flies
From Homer Air,
And out from the cockpit
I saw as I neared
A big tall pilot
With a dark bush beard,
He had a large sack
Full of candy and toys
Electric trains with engines black
For the girls and boys
First to Jakalof, Port Graham
And then English Bay,
Scary Larry the pilot
Saved this Christmas Day
Copyright 1981,† Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.† All rights reserved