I climbed out of Plymouth to 9,500 feet and cruised smoothly over the Boston Class Bravo toward New Hampshire.
At Portsmouth, I cut to the northeast and began a descent into Maine, landing at Biddeford Airport (B19) after only forty-five minutes of flying. There was fuel being sold there for $4.30 per gallon, a good deal compared to pricing further on. Taxiing up to the fuel pumps, I saw a guy tying down his Piper Cherokee on the southwest ramp, but after he left, I was alone at an airport with after-hours access to a clean, well-managed FBO. It had restrooms, a shower, and a nice leather couch. There was a POW-MIA table set up in a corner.
After seeing that, I decided to push the Dove into a tie-down spot and to stay a while. It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous Sunday morning for flying, but I felt desperately compelled to remain on the ground for the time being. I had a lot of journaling to catch up on, and Biddeford seemed a great place to write with no distractions.
That was when a guy named Ed showed up. He was wearing an AOPA tee-shirt and dark sunglasses, and he had a grizzled beard, long frazzled hair, and a balding head dappled with liver spots. After he introduced himself and found out about my 40-day mission trip through America, Ed told me that he and his partner were just about to begin a day of banner-towing. He took me over to his hangar to show me his operation.
There, he introduced me to a fellow tower, John, and his lovely wife, Monica. Ed pulled out his phone and started showing John some video footage of attempted banner-grabs. He was discussing ways to improve technique using his C-175.
John was going to be flying a C-170 that day for his towing jobs, but his primary task was to get the banners properly set up for Ed. I watched a couple of missed attempts before Ed finally made a successful grab.
I finally went back into the FBO to get started on my journal-writing. Then all of a sudden, it was as if everyone and their uncles and cousins decided to land for fuel at Biddeford, Maine. The whole airport came to life. Pilots started landing in their planes and coming in and out of the FBO building, having conversations out on the ramp, watching the banner-towing maneuvers, and just getting as much out of that beautiful day for flying that they could.
After a few hours, Ed came back in and said that it was kind of crazy out there. He told me that Biddeford was usually a very quiet airport but that occasionally it had its moments. Today was one of those moments. It was like a fly-in out there. There was so much activity and so much distraction, I began to wonder if I would be able to get any work done at all.
In the afternoon after most people had taken off, I decided to take a shower. I hung my towels outside by the fuel pumps to let them dry in the breeze. I sat on the couch and cat-napped as people kept landing and fueling and coming in and out of the FBO. It was literally a never-ending train of aircraft and pilots traversing Biddeford throughout the day. There was even an RV-8 pilot who came by to ask about the Dove. He told me that he wintered every year in Florida, then spent the summers up in Maine with his wife who, according to him, was terrified of flying. He flew for a couple of hours, then topped off the tanks and taxied back to his hangar on the field.
I walked around to stretch for a time and to pray about what to do next. I found an old caboose that the local EAA chapter had cleverly converted into a kitchen for fundraisers.
In spite of the excellent accommodations and the opportunity to have a decent night of sleep there in Biddeford, the Lord told me to go. The banner towing continued throughout the afternoon, and eventually, as I was getting ready to leave, a few stragglers gathered around an L-19 Bird Dog, flown by another banner tower named Harry. They all debriefed the day as I loaded up and preflighted the Dove.