Yesterday morning my children and I were suddenly jolted awake by a small plane or planes buzzing our house (more than one pass). For some reason, this was repeated off and on all day, too. We've had this happen before many times, but never this many times in one day.
This type of harassment, which is often strategically timed to be most disturbing, is difficult to photograph or even see and describe well because it happens so suddenly and the offenders are gone so quickly. However, during one of these incidents today, one of my children happened to be down at the barn doing chores and was able to see and describe the planes involved: two small planes flying close together, one bright/neon yellow and the other blue and white (blue on top and white on the bottom).
An entire day of being subjected to this caused me to reflect on the subject of airplanes and flying in general with regard to both ourselves and other victims. While I have blogged about the subject here before (see "What's The Buzz?" from 11/24/09, "What's The Buzz Revisited", and "Mystery Man" from 12/26/09, for example), I realized I have a great deal of additional information to share on the subject.
During my 20-year marriage, my husband left me twice for women he worked with (different ones; see "My Story" at the beginning of this blog). Coincidentally, both times he left happened to also be the two times during the many years I knew him when he was into airplanes and flying in a big way.
The first time, back in the mid-1980s, my husband suddenly began spending a lot of time with a couple of local pilots. Both of these men had moved to Central Texas from Houston, and both were very wealthy. The older of these two men was a flight instructor who started teaching my husband to fly and eventually helped my husband obtain a pilot's license. According to my husband, this older man and his wife owned considerable valuable real estate in our town, including several businesses downtown and a good deal of property and at least one business close to our house. A shop owned and run by this man's wife moved from Main Street into a building on a side street that I've discussed before, and the wife of the then-county judge (the judge who was later convicted of records-tampering) started working there around the same time.
The younger of my husband's pilot-friends and his wife were around our ages and had children close in age to ours. His wife and I took our children to the same playgroup, where I got to know her a little bit. She was by herself with her children much of the time and lonely as a result, because she said her husband worked for a large real estate firm in Houston during the week and only flew up on weekends. I would have liked to have known her better, but I did not care for her husband and never felt comfortable when I was around him. In fact, I remember trying to discuss this with my husband several times--for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why my husband liked this man so much.
At one point, this couple was gone from our town for an extended period of time (several years?--I can't remember for sure). I thought they'd moved away because my husband said the man got tired of commuting, but I also heard rumors from the other playgroup moms that the husband might have gotten in trouble for flying drugs into the country from South America. Eventually, however, they turned up in our town again.
When my husband decided to leave his first "other woman" and return to try and save our marriage, he seemed to lose a lot of his former fascination with flying and other pilots. He began spending more time with the kids and me and less with his pilot-friends at the airport. I can remember only two small incidents regarding planes from this "in-between period". The first was a casual remark made to me by the then girlfriend of a close college friend of my husband's. This college friend travelled all over the world for his job and was living in London at the time, and his girlfriend was a stewardess with American Airlines who worked the Dallas-London route. She told me she could carry anything she wanted through customs either way because all the customs officials knew her and never checked her bags.
The second incident was an explanation my husband gave me for why certain houses owned by related families near ours were brightly lit all night long. He claimed the women who lived in these houses had a lucrative contract to sew seat cushions for airplanes involving meeting deadlines that caused them to have to work through the night at times. With the Mooney airplane factory located nearby, I saw no reason to question this at the time.
In the year or so before my husband left the second time (this time for good), he returned to his obsession for airplanes and flying with a passion. He began gradually spending increasing amounts of time with not only his first two close pilot-friends but a much wider circle of both local and out-of-town pilots, most of whom I didn't know and never met. My husband also started buying planes: first a basic older Cessna; then a kit for a plane he and the foreign-born airplane and submarine mechanic who worked for the "Mystery Man" built together and customized substantially for speed; and finally a Vietnam-era plane known for flying "low and slow".
Along with being gone from home more and more and hanging around with increasing numbers of people he wouldn't introduce me to, my husband suddenly left for a long weekend in Dallas to train on an American Airlines flight simulator with another pilot-friend who worked for them. My husband also suddenly began spending a great deal of time with both his old flying instructor and a woman pilot who had extensive real estate and construction business contacts in Houston and sat on the city council at the time. (I once became very suddenly and mysteriously ill two hours before I was supposed to attend a private dinner with these people--the only time I was ever invited to join any of them socially.) Around the same time, a man who owned property near the local airport was found shot to death in a local motel room.
After my husband left me in 1999 for the woman who is now his wife, a lot of other things began happening with regard to the local flying scene. One of the first of these was an announcement by local government officials of a major expansion and several major building projects at the airport here. The man who'd taught my (now ex-) husband to fly was found shot to death in his home, and although I'd always believed my ex-husband considered this man one of his closest friends, my ex- threw a large birthday party for his wife on the night of his flying instructor's memorial service and grinned and waved at me and one of our children as he passed us on the road while the service was going on (so we know he didn't attend).
My ex-husband's other close pilot friend had also left his wife and married someone else by this time and had also run for local political office unsuccessfully. One of their children nearly died in a bizarre accident that occurred while they were with their father. Then my acquaintance from playgroup was found dead, hanging from a hook in her dining room, and my former mother-in-law and one of the other women in our playgroup both began spreading rumors about how depressed the dead woman had been, even though I had never seen any signs of this. Her former husband (the pilot) was married to a woman who had ties to South America at the time, and they'd started a chocolate-importing business that involved regular flights down there. After his ex-wife's death, we frequently saw the pilot back at his ex-wife's house, and I was told he'd opened (or tried to open?) a restaurant there.