Lately, I’ve been working on a small number of articles that deal with individuals I know. Now, everyone I know, whether curmudgeon or generous gregarian, has redeeming qualities. But some are just overflowing with those qualities. From time to time, I’ll post these little vignettes and I’m going to start off with this one for obvious reasons. I should point out that one potential subject for such an article was given a chance to proof his, in order to make sure I got the facts right. But his humility was too much for him and he told me that he’d rather I not post it. I’ve learned my lesson, so ol’ Steve hasn’t been consulted. B.L.
Many years ago I was working off an airport that was midsized. It had a control tower and about three or four “Fixed Base Operators” or companies that offered aircraft maintenance, fuel and flight instruction.
I’d heard of a guy named Steve, who didn’t have a shop. Steve was a licensed mechanic, but worked out of his pickup truck. He’d go where your airplane was and do repairs or required inspections. Some of the outfits on the airport didn’t like him. To them, he was a “scab” or a “Gyppo” and some of them had done a pretty good job of besmirching his reputation.
My Cub was tied down outside on the ramp in front of a couple of those companies. One morning, I went out to my airplane to find a shocking site: Someone had evidently backed a vehicle up and smacked my Cub. The lift struts on one side were bent in where they’d been struck. I was bummed. It wasn’t like I could afford to run right out and buy new struts!
No one at those maintenance operations had called me to let me know it happened. No one at those outfits came out to see if they could be of any help while I was analyzing the damage. But as I was examining one of my bent struts I heard a vehicle drive up. I turned to see an old truck pulling up next to me. The driver got out. He was a slender, fit guy with a no-nonsense air about him. Craggy features made him seem perhaps a little more stern than he turned out to be. He introduced himself. It was Steve. Steve never once said that he could fix it. Instead, he suggested all the ways in which I could render the aircraft airworthy again. Although he offered advice, he never once solicited my business. His advice was valuable and his timing couldn’t have been better.
Years have passed since that day. In those years, I’ve watched Steve grow slowly from a pile of tools in the back of a pickup to a nice shop with an endless line of customers. During those years he helped me rebuild that Cub. His son, Brian, helped us build a trailer in which to haul it to airshows. Brian has now graduated from trailer manufacturing and is a fine mechanic in his own right.
Steve’s no-nonsense approach to aircraft maintenance and customer service have endeared him to untold numbers of airplane owners. But one lesson from Steve has been taken to heart by this old flying squirrel: To paraphrase Forest Gump, “good people is as good people does”. Steve’s deeds have far outdone any besmirching of his reputation by folks who are not even in business anymore. Just ask those people who are lined up outside his door.
(Steve’s Aircraft has a website where you can find out all about their STCs and services. It’s www.stevesaircraft.com. Tailwheel Productions and the Tailwheeler’s Journal recommend them without reservation).