Airmail: Remembering a Chance Encounter with Arnold Palmer

Airmail: Remembering a Chance Encounter with Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer

I really cannot explain why but I am a big fan of the column On Final but it is the first thing I read when Twin & Turbine hits the mailbox (I prefer the hardcopy). If I had to pinpoint a reason, I would say that as a former Cirrus SR22 owner, I am working hard on justifying something that burns Jet A. But for now, I live vicariously through
Dave Miller’s writings. 

David’s Arnold Palmer story reminded me of a trip to KTRM several years ago. I was dropping off my wife at the La Quinta resort (a great excuse for a short flight from Las Vegas (KHND) to Jackie Cochran Regional. As I fired up our Cirrus I noticed a Citation X taxiing in. Knowing that Arnold Palmer was somehow involved with Tradition Aviation, my favorite FBO at KTRM, I took note of the tail number. I was beyond excited to see N1AP on the tail. 

I shut down our plane, jumped out, and waited impatiently to see who would descend down the air-stairs. I approached the first gentlemen down on the ground and I asked him if Arnold would mind me saying hi and shaking his hand. He responded with, “Sure, Arnold would be happy to meet you.”

Arnold came down, and with a big smile on his face he offered his hand. I decided that since most of his encounters were related to his golfing exploits, I would only discuss flying. I also knew of his passion for powered flight, so I thought this was a fairly safe approach. 

We had a very memorable 15-minute discussion about flying. He told me they just flew in from Maui, and I explained that I just flew in from Las Vegas. 

I will never, ever forget his parting comments. This beyond gracious gentlemen told me, “Mike, if you ever see me, you come straight up to me and remind me of this conversation.”

Arnold is the antithesis of the modern athlete (I do hate to generalize). He makes you instantly feel comfortable in his presence. I am so grateful for those few minutes with Arnold, and thank you for reminding me of why flying is the greatest thing in the world!

Also, I apologize for the back-handed compliment in paragraph one. I sincerely enjoy David’s writings. 

Mike Schmitt, Henderson, Nevada

Columnist David Miller responds:

Mike, thanks so much for your kind words and story. You are the reason I keep writing!
Safe flying. — David

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