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Back in the late 1970s, I worked in the admissions office for the A&P training program at East Coast Aero Technical School in Lexington, Massachusetts (some of you may have heard of that town). The pilots and aircraft owners on the staff would often take new members of the office staff up for an airplane ride to give them a taste of what this aviation thing was all about. One summer day, I was the one called upon to initiate our young, freshly-hired receptionist.

She was kind of quiet and this was her first-ever ride in a light airplane. She listened carefully to my passenger briefing after I had preflighted my little blue two-seat Grumman AA1-B and made sure she knew how to strap into the shoulder harness. It was a smooth, sunny day, and I could tell she was enjoying the short flight. Then I explained the traffic pattern and set up for landing.

Thanks to smooth air and a steady breeze straight down the runway, the touchdown was one of those that author Frank Kingston Smith would have described as “like a butterfly with sore feet.” As we taxied in, she said, thoughtfully, “So, I guess the little ones land a lot smoother than big airliners.”

Over the next several days, I made it a point to walk her around the campus and have her describe for all the other pilots on the staff the difference between how airliners and “the little ones” land.

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