Thursday, November 10, 2016
When the time comes to part with what we hold dear
I can't remember a time when I didn't refer to N614EF as her.
From the moment the preview plans arrived in 2001, she was always her.
"Touch it once per day," Van's builder support expert advised me early on. Except I didn't touch it. I touched her.
And when she finally flew, I'd greet her every time I walked in the hangar with, "How you doing, baby?" And before I turned off the lights and locked the door, she always got a goodbye kiss.
She treated me well and now that I'm in the process of selling her, I feel I have failed her somehow.
We had a thing, she and I. She took care of me. I took care of her.
She kept her end of the bargain. Other than those first flights in the test area when she choked on something stuck in her #3 nozzle, she never missed a beat. I'd talk to her on those long trips to New England to see my mom. She'd talk right back.
I don't know -- yet -- who's going to buy her. Someone is coming to look this weekend. We'll go over the usual things people go over when they sell airplanes, I suppose. And if things work out, maybe I'll ask the only question I really want to ask: Will you love her? Cherish her? Take care of her from this day forward?
It's an important question, because right now it feels like the last guy who said he would is forsaking her.
An aside: My colleagues at work left a card on my desk on Monday. I guess they knew that the coming moment is a painful one, a sympathetic one. Because they signed it.
In the innards of my plane, there are signatures of the people who worked on her. Some have messages. All have autographs. They meant an awful lot to me.
And now these autographs do to.