the backyard. Freshly laundered white sheets snapped on the clothesline
nearby. The little boys pinched each other awake until the stroke of
midnight, when the Flying Tiger Constellation left Lockheed Airport for
Honolulu. Loaded to the gills with cargo and fuel, the Connie roared
deafeningly just a few hundred feet above, her belly clearly visible to
the awe-struck boys. The occasional blue and yellow flame licked up from
the imperfectly-tuned reciprocating engines.
In the morning, Larry's' mother went to the clothesline to gather the
clean sheets, which were now speckled with a fine mist of aircraft engine
oil. She was pretty mad about her sheets. Larry wanted to sleep on them.
Larry learned to fly Cessnas out of the airports in Burbank and Van
Nuys. He took instruction at Fowler Aeronautical, based in Burbank. He
has been a commercial airline pilot now for more than 25 years. His
career has moved us around and we now find ourselves living in
Pittsburgh, where Larry is a captain on the 737-300 for US Airways.
It's no secret that Burbank's wonderful hometown airport is in a
political stew that's been simmering for years. Folks complain about the
noise. This argument is a red herring at best and disingenuous at worst.
I well remember my days at Luther Burbank in the '60s, before
soundproofing, when the teachers merely quit talking while the Connies
and Hercs blasted over us. Every Sunday morning, as we sat in the Little
White Chapel, that PSA Electra flew overhead at exactly the same time. We
kids wondered why the minister didn't just fiddle with the order of
worship so the departure would coincide with the silent prayer. For many
of us, the airplanes were a happy part of growing up.
The airport has been the jewel in Burbank's crown for nearly 100
years. People who moved in, around and near the airport, can't claim they
didn't know it was there. My parents certainly knew it when they moved
there in 1949. Today's jets are only getting quieter and airlines
routinely work with cities to establish reasonable curfews. When I grew
up here, commerce and neighborhoods in Burbank coexisted proudly. What