Backseat pilot enjoys the ride

Posted: Monday, December 19, 2005


  Donald Poimboeuf was happy to have a chance to fly again. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Donald Poimboeuf was happy to have a chance to fly again.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Donald Poimboeuf loves to fly. He loved it long before he crash-landed his first ultralight aircraft in Spokane, Wash., more than 20 years ago.

“I started out building radio-controlled airplanes and and I got tired of my feet being on the ground, so I bought my first one for $3,000,” Poimboeuf said.

He bought the ultralight on the East Coast while driving a truck and hauled it back to Spokane, where he lived at the time. The plane wasn’t his last.

“I crash landed so many times it was pathetic,” he said.

Poimboeuf spent his career driving trucks across the country for various companies while living in Texas, Oregon, Washington, California and Montana.

Flying the ultralights over Lower 48 landscapes was a pastime for Poimboeuf from the first flight, but there was one area the Kenai hospice patient had never flown over — this one.

Thanks to care providers from 1st Choice Home, Health and Hospice and the kindness of Soldotna pilot Ron Davis, that is no longer the case. Poimboeuf and Davis flew along the coast from Kenai to Nikiski and back Wednesday.

1st Choice, like any hospice provider, administers care for the terminally ill from their homes, offering medical, mental and spiritual assistance.

Occasionally, according to 1st Choice medical-social worker Lane Beauchamp, 1st Choice is able to provide patients with a little more.

“We always ask our hospice folks if they have any goals or things they’d like to do,” Beauchamp said.

Poimboeuf, who has lung cancer, just wanted to fly again.

“At first he said he’d only do it if he could be the pilot,” Beauchamp said. “Well, he’s on heavy narcotics, so we said ‘no.’”

Beauchamp and her staff were eventually able to find Davis for the flight, but it took a few weeks to get off the ground.

“(Davis) agreed to do it right away; he was just waiting for a clear day,” Beauchamp said.

Although he wouldn’t be the pilot, Poimboeuf was happy to go.

“I let him fly,” Poimboeuf joked. “He was doing such a good job, I didn’t feel that I needed to fly it. I just went for the ride.”

Poimboeuf did pick the path, though. Davis started flying inland, but Poimboeuf asked him to turn around and fly along the coast. Davis obliged, and the duo made the path up as they went.

“When you’re sightseeing, that’s what you’re supposed to do — if somebody else is paying for it or if you’re paying for it,” Poimboeuf said.

Making it up as you go has a particular appeal for a truck driver. On the road, Poimboeuf said, you go where the load goes and rarely get a chance to take in sights and surroundings. Vacations came when there was a day or two to wait for the return load to arrive.

“The only thing you see is highway,” he said.

Once, he recalled, he knew there would be a wait time for his next load in Louisiana.

“I rented me a boat and ran the river for about three days on that vacation.”

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