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Oct12 Spitfire story
Oct12 Spitfire story
For nine years, Mike Henry has managed Easton’s airport operations. A licensed pilot for almost 50 years, he guides me around the 654-acre airfield, proudly pointing out the 90 fully leased T-hangars, new runway surfacing and spill-containment areas, and the five-year-old air-traffic control tower with the state’s only STARSLITE radar system.
“We have a four-year waiting list for our hangars,” Henry says, noting Easton’s proximity to Washington, DC, and the Eastern Shore’s standing as a favorite destination for politicians, power brokers, and celebrities.
With two fixed base operators—Easton Jet Service and Flight Support Service—the airport sees 50,000 flights annually, making it one of the state’s busiest general-aviation airports. The 146 aircraft and 22 jets kept here mean Easton is constantly in motion.
“On our busiest day, we had 450 flight ‘operations’ [defined as a take-off or landing] from the two main runways,” says Henry.
“Three-quarters of our business is recreational, and 25 percent is business or military.”
At 5,500 feet, the longer runway easily accommodates a Gulfstream V jet.
As Henry wheels me around—pointing out stories of celebrity pilots (like John Travolta and Harrison Ford), passengers, and plane owners—he stops before a large, grey building bearing a small “Spitfire” sign above the door.
The unassuming hangar belies the treasures inside.
Standing beneath a bright white ceiling canopy and atop a shiny, unblemished floor is a gleaming, vintage Spitfire alongside half a dozen meticulously restored antique war birds.
This museum-quality collection is owned by Easton resident and healthcare entrepreneur Tom Blair. The “Spitfire” was a single-seat fighter used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II.
Lined in formation, a P-40 Warhawk displays fiercely painted shark-teeth nose art. A sleek, snow-white L-39 bears Blair’s name. Down the row, the frequently flown collection includes two of the namesake Spitfires, a T-34 and a DeHavilland Tiger Moth.
Many, with their distinctive RAF wing markings and yellow-rimmed roundel—like the large Union Jack centered from the top rafter—celebrate British aviation and Blair’s English heritage.
Not to be outdone by the resident aircraft, the hangar also holds several classic cars, including three Corvettes, a Jaguar XKE, an Austin Healy 3000, an MG-TD, a 1953 Mercedes convertible, and a 1956 T-Bird. (It boasts a Russian motorcycle with sidecar, too.)
Learn more about Easton Airport at www.talbotcountymd.gov.