When pilot Sanford Reim of Yakima, Wash., was ferrying no-cockpit Super Breezy plane on a cross-country flight from Penn Yan to Oregon in September, he saw a nice-looking small airport in the Southern Tier.
Struck by what he saw, he decided to land at the Cattaraugus County-Olean Airport on Hatch Hill Road in Ischua. His experience led Reim to write a letter to Olean Mayor Bill Aiello to express how appreciative Reim was of the reception and service he received here.
The letter to the mayor follows:
“I would like to thank you and the people of Olean, particularly the nice people I met at your beautiful airport.
“I am a ferry pilot and I deliver airplanes across North America. A recent delivery took me on a transcontinental journey across the United States on a no-cockpit airplane called a Super Breezy. Seated on a chair with only one seat belt and no windshield and totally exposed to the wind and weather, I had an unlimited view in all directions. Flying over the beautiful rolling hills of New York, admiring the maple trees and the beautiful landscaping, I was drawn to one of the nicest looking airports I had ever seen in my life. It was quite obvious that the people managing the airport took great pride in taking care of it. For this reason alone, I had to land and meet these people.
After inspecting the aircraft before departure, I determined I had some small maintenance issues that I needed to tend to before I continued on my trip to the West Coast. While working on the aircraft, inside the hangar with rain and drizzle just over the hills outside, someone said to me, ‘You’re not having a good day, are you?’
“I responded to the gentleman, ‘I am inside and dry. Everyone at this airport is so kind and helpful, they have loaned me tools and supplies I need. I have a cup of coffee in my hand, a courtesy car to drive to town, reservations at a very nice hotel tonight with a great restaurant right next to it.’
“I told him, ‘Allow me to introduce myself. You are looking at the luckiest person you have ever met in your life. I have been flying airplanes for 43 years now. Trust me when I say one of the worst things is to be far far away from home and all alone with an aircraft needing repairs. I could not ask for more hospitality and help from the nicest people I have met here.’
“I was also lucky enough to be here for your wonderful flight breakfast before I continued west. I have shared my experience with several pilots and encourage them to come and visit your beautiful airport and town. Please know and understand how important your airport is to your community.
“I am looking forward to returning and reuniting with my friends from Olean.”
For his part, Aiello says he met Reim during the sixth annual Fly-In/Drive-In Pancake Breakfast at the airport Sept. 11, getting some pictures of his grandchildren with the pilot and the unique aircraft he was flying from New York to the West Coast.
“He was a really interesting guy,” the mayor said of Reim. “And he just couldn’t say enough about how impressed he was with the airport and the Olean area in general during his stay here. … I was very pleased to get that recognition for the staff at the airport from someone outside the area, who understands and appreciates the importance of a local airport like we have here.”