Big Buck Landing

It was a cool November afternoon the day I hauled my 35mm camera with telephoto lens down to the airport. I planned to capture the moment of my husband, Kurt’s, landing from his first cross country training flight. Flying back from MBS with David Pflum, I couldn’t wait to hear how it went, especially since I would have to do the same trip soon.

I set up the tripod, got the camera mounted, and waited as patient as I could even though the fall temperatures were causing the gooseflesh to rise up on my arms and uncontrollable shivering to begin. Bouncing up and down to stay warm, I hoped I could push the shutter button without shivering too much when they landed. Otherwise, the photos would surely be blurry even though using a tripod.

Waiting… waiting… waiting… They would surely be entering the downwind for 27 soon, I told myself.

Finally, I heard the Cessna 172 out in the distance. And not long after, I heard Kurt announce his downwind over the airport radio.

As the afternoon sun cast a golden hue across the dried grasses and tall weeds lining the runway, the plane continued on final towards the threshold of 27.

Lining up the camera for the first shot, the little Cessna flew the glide-slope down to meet the numbers and I started shooting consecutively as the wheels finally met asphalt for a perfect landing.

Grinning with pride, I kept shooting when the Bald Eagle flew up from the runway at the west end. Luckily, it was far enough down the runway that it didn’t cause any trouble of obstacles in the runway.

The Cessna safely taxied on toward the hangar where it would be tucked away for the night. Saying goodbye to David, we hopped in our truck and headed home, and I couldn’t wait to see if I had gotten any decent photos.

After the wait of downloading the images onto the computer, I clicked on the first of the bunch and began the slow and steady search for the best shot.

Honestly, the photos turned out pretty crappy - which I blame on all of the shivering, but I scrolled through them anyway, looking for the moment the Cessna touched down… and just about fell out of my chair.

Shocked beyond belief at what I had captured, I asked my husband, “Did you happen to see anything besides that Bald Eagle near the runway when you landed?”

“Nooooo,“ he said. “Why?”

“Look at this!”

To the north of the runway stood one of the biggest white-tailed bucks I had ever seen. It looked like a cow with horns!

I don’t want to think what would have happened had this big guy stepped onto the runway the moment the Cessna touched down.

I would say luck was with them ALL on this night… and every night until the fence was built! And even though we now have a fence, this story is a good reminder to stay vigilant for random critters in the runway at any airport.

Thanks so much for reading! If you liked this story, you might also like, "A Scary Swan Encounter!"

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