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In the Pipeline: Airport's charm will not soon be forgotten

February 26, 2013|By Chris Epting
(Courtesy Bob Cannon )

Some columns just seem to strike a chord.

I can tell right away as the emails start to come in when something has truly resonated. Leave it to Meadowlark Airport to unlock so many memories from those who took to the air there, and also those who enjoyed its flight history from the ground.

People sent me pictures, they recounted stories, and Carl Obert was even kind enough to send a copy of the old Meadowlark Café menu featuring a flying hamburger on its cover.

As I wrote last week, there was a follow-up I wanted to do on the beloved airstrip. As it turns out, I could probably write them each week for the next year. There is just that much love for the place.

A few days ago I went to a coffee shop near Five Points where a weekly meeting takes place of the Old Bold Pilots Assn. In a back room behind the cash register the men sit, swapping stories, sharing pictures and recounting the grand glories of their collective lives in the skies. Most of them flew in and out of Meadowlark, but others, as I learned, have tales that soar far beyond the quaint, colorful atmosphere of the old airport located on Warner Avenue near Bolsa Chica.

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There are war heroes in that room whose stories reflect courage and bravery on the most monumental of scales, and so in the coming weeks you'll be meeting some of these exceptional men in this column.

Back to Meadowlark though, the mere mention of the name at one of the tables provoked laughter and head-shaking from those who spent time there as they thought back to the pockmarked runway, the primitive conditions, but the always appealing camaraderie that took root in the Quonset huts and small hangers that dotted at the property.

Bob Graves told me about the flight he made into Meadowlark back in 1951 (before it was even called that) to look over a plane he was thinking about buying. To hear him tell it, back then it wasn't even really an airport, just a lonely field to touch down in. But he watched it grow over the years and like many others, came to love and appreciate the homespun, almost neighborhood feel that Meadowlark provided.

Renowned plane-crash researcher Pat Macha is a member of the group and he introduced me to Paul Butler, who works at the American Aviation Historical Society located here in Huntington Beach.

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