There is a deeply cherished but little known tradition around our airport. To understand it starts with knowing about a little North Carolina gem:
We love this little town. It was an early haven for pirates, saw Blackbeard’s last stand, and housed seasoned scooner pilots who helped navigate ships through the constantly shifting sandbars. Bikes are more than enough to get around once you are there, but making it is the adventure.
Today you can get there by air, by boat, aaaaaaaaand… that’s it. There is a ferry running from Hatteras village that is big enough to park your 4 wheeled land yacht (still a boat), but those are your options.
For the well meaning hooligans of Whiskey17, Ocracoke is a little bit sacred. It has the right blend of hospitality and appreciation for shinanigans. We go once a year, late in the season just before everything closes, because there is nothing better than shivvering on the beach knowing that if we had come only a month earlier it would have been comfortable.
It just feels right.
The trip this time was special. Just over a year ago, Hurricane Dorian decided to pick on Ocracoke like the runningback spotting me in the lunch room. It was rough. So bad in fact that two months after the hurricane the airport still wasn’t open to civilians.
This year, COVID has tested the mettle of the tourism-oriented island, but the people of Ocracoke are resilient.
Let’s not kid though, deciding to take the trip was a challenge. Making an informed go/no-go decision is ingrained in you as a student pilot. After looking over the trends and talking through precautions with the group, we decided to fly out.
And so Ocracoke Men’s Flying Group (OMFG) 2020 was on, and it was epic. The camp fire game was so strong I am still smelling of smoke and the weather gods treated us to 70 degree days. Topped off with a stop at first flight and some air-to-air “hangin’ out”, and we really couldn’t ask for better. I think our only hiccups were with a stubborn battery (I mean, what do we know about electrical challenges) and a random rain shower that decided to hang out right off the end of runway 06 at departure. So all said and done, pretty smooth.
Still, it wasn’t the same. This year has been dumb. Real dumb. We’re making the most of it in our own ways, but we’re ready to get back to seeing people. The guys humored us as we recorded their mugs, and I must say we’re proud of this one. Thank you to Curt Tilly and Bill Beerman for many of the pictures used in this post, and an extra special than you to Seth for the late nights editing this fella’, it is pretty special.
Stay healthy friends.