He comes by air, flying very low, in a red-and-white plane with a tiny motor that drones in a particular way we recognize. Skye can hear him miles away, and when she does, she starts yelling. “He’s coming! He’s coming!” We know to instantly drop shovel or trowel, book or mixing bowl, and head out to a place where there’s open space.
The clear view is so that he can see us waving at him from the ground. If he sees us, he’ll wave back, wiggling the little plane’s wings, and sometimes he’ll do more.
The first time he came, Skye and I were on our back deck. We waved as he passed overhead. He must have seen us because he doubled back. He came flying at the farm from the north, where there's a pasture about 20 acres in size, with trees lining it. When the pilot passed the treeline he dipped low to the ground and rushed toward us. He couldn’t have been more than 25 feet off the ground. Just before he crashed into our house, and into us, he yanked the plane into a climb and rose above the roof.
Raven was not so happy about that. He thought only a crazy person would fly like that, endangering others.
A few days later the pilot returned. It was almost as if he’d received Raven’s message, telepathically. Over the pasture he climbed to a thousand feet, then dove for the ground, bringing the plane out of the dive at the last minute. Raven was okay with this, since the pilot wasn’t aiming at our house. If the crazy guy wanted to kill himself, fine. But Raven wished we didn’t have to watch it.
When he visits now, he will circle us. We can see his face he’s so close, and we can see him waving. Most visits he does something to the controls where he waves the wings, one then the other dipping in a lovely salute. Sometimes he rises high and dives. It’s usually almost sunset when he comes, as if we’re on his route back to the Vidalia, Georgia airport and he can take a minute to say hello before he has to rush on.
We found him on Facebook. From the posts it’s apparent that the pilot’s fly-bys bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. He calls himself a backwoods pilot. That’s probably what brought him over our farm in the first place -- we live very close to the confluence of two rivers, the Ohoopee with the Altamaha. The scenery must be amazing from up there. In one post he says, "It's all about enjoying the limited time we have."
And he is a daredevil. In one FB video he is skimming up a small blackwater river, probably the Ohoopee, his tires throwing up spray.
I’ve written a lot about the loneliness in most people’s lives and the particular loneliness of rural living. So I thought it would be important for me to acknowledge how much joy our visitor, pilot and stranger, brings us.
Thanks for that, sir. Thanks for brightening our quiet days. Thanks for pushing the limits.
Note: My web platform won't allow me to post videos without upgrading, so I'm posting a photo.