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Posted: Jul 8, 2009  12:23

News from the Airport

      Flight Instructor for Northern Air, Inc.

There have been many exciting developments at the airport recently.

Mike Mitchell of Sandpoint has earned his Private Pilot Certificate! For many years, he has dreamed of becoming a pilot and now his dream is a reality. Even before completing his training, he purchased a partnership in a Cessna 175 hangared at the Sandpoint Airport. With his new pilot certificate, he can freely fly his wife Gail anywhere she wants to go. His first flight with her was to the Boundary County EAA pancake breakfast this past Saturday.

Mike is the assistant principal and head coach at the Sandpoint High School. Next time you see him, congratulate him on his accomplishment. As Mike will attest, with patience and perseverance, dreams do come true. Congratulations Mike!

Al Eberhardt, a local resident, was treated on Father's Day to a scenic flight over Boundary County, courtesy of his excited wife Marsha. Areas seen from the air included local trails and favorite hunting areas. The air that day was smooth and cool which allowed a perfect day for a flight through the mountains of North Idaho.

Ron Eliassen bought his wife Nancy a scenic flight for her birthday and brought along their granddaughter Abby to join them. After a nice bowl of ice cream and a bit of anticipation, the flight turned out wonderfully smooth. Seen from the air were the colorful canola fields in bloom, the winding Kootenai River and the Selkirk Mountains. Chimney Rock was majestic and we peaked over the high ridges at Priest Lake. Nancy had always wanted to drive to Schweitzer Mountain and now she's seen it from the air. The flight culminated in a circle over their house. What a wonderful treat.

Manuel Costescu, a friendly young Romanian, acquired his private pilot license at the Boundary County Airport on Friday, June 12. Manuel came to America 15 years ago to study international business at MIT in Boston. After graduating, he worked for several years in New York City and traveled around the world before achieving his goal of earning a pilot certificate at Northern Air in the quiet mountains of north Idaho.

Manuel's quest to fly began ten years ago in Bonners Ferry while he was interning with the Forest Service. Flight Instructor Dave Parker trained Manuel through solo in 1999. After leaving Bonners Ferry, life got busy and learning to fly just wasn't the same in Boston, thus postponing Manuel's dream for ten years.

Other than his history in Romania, a couple of things mark Manuel's achievement of wings as special. First, in an ambitious endeavor, he scheduled himself to complete his training in a mere three weeks as opposed to the standard timeframe. He finished in two and a half. In addition, this all coincided with his honeymoon, so his new bride Verena joined him for the first week. She was even brave enough to accompany him on a few of his training flights, including a cross-country flight over Glacier Park, MT.

Another unique facet of Manuel's journey into the sky is that he stayed in the upstairs apartment of the same hangar that housed his trainer plane for the three weeks that it took him to complete his training. Being in such close proximity to the airport led to the development of a special relationship with the airport staff, cultivated though many dinners, laughs and lots of crème brulè!

When not flying or studying, Verena and Manuel enjoyed viewing animals at the National Wildlife Refuge in the evenings. Manuel took one day off to kayak down the Kootenai River from Bonners Ferry to the Canadian border. On another occasion, Manuel and his instructor, Nathaniel Cheshire, saw a bear while hiking up the Selkirk Mountains to Hidden Lake.

A spot at the airport is missing with Manuel gone, but those at the airport wish him well as he pursues the remaining dreams on his list...The apartment is ready and waiting for the next student.


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