Remembering Bill C.

This is a lot longer than my usual entry, but that happens sometimes when I get to thinkin' about stuff.  If it doesn't seem to have anything to do with addiction, just bear with me a bit.

I don’t spend much time regretting the past. There are a lot of things I’ve done that, given the opportunity, I’d probably do differently or not at all, but you have to be careful what you wish for. The Law of Unintended Consequences is nothing to mess with.

Today I was thinking about my friend Bill. I met him during a time in my early twenties when I was hanging around the aviation industry. We were drawn to each other by a mutual love of airplanes, flight attendants, and the bars of the Fort Lauderdale area.

Back then there were the usual disturbances and upheavals in Central America, and there was a lot of stuff happening in Africa as well. The company we both worked for had, at one time, some clandestine connections with interests in the Caribbean, and shady characters of some repute still wandered around the small airports of South Florida and the islands to the south. I found this moderately interesting. Bill found it fascinating.

Douglas_A-26B_in_flightA fellow who shall remain nameless, well-known in the aviation community, acquired a Douglas A-26 that had been converted for use as a high-speed executive aircraft. I took one ride in the thing (the guy needed a copilot), noted the amount of oil leaking from one of the big radial engines during takeoff, and deplaned as rapidly and permanently as possible when we landed. Bill’s envy knew no bounds, and his fascination with the former attack bomber increased.

The Douglas languished at the local airplane patch for about a year before a potential buyer appeared. This individual had a reputation for shady dealings involving the transportation and sale of firearms—usually, or so the story went, in considerable quantities. When he showed up and began negotiating for the A-26, Bill saw his chance for glory. [Read more…]