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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Don Campbell: A good man

Another Good Deed
     Donald Campbell was only in his mid 50's when he passed away that October afternoon. He was piloting a Cessna 207 for Penobscot Island Air to the island of Matinicus. Matinicus is in Penobscot Bay, off from the Midcoast area of Maine. Penobscot Island Air flies out of Knox County Regional Airport and services the islands. They hold many contracts from UPS to government entities. To many people they are a lifeline. 
     I'm not really sure what Don was delivering that day, but I know he was alone, which leads me to believe he was flying supplies or mail. I've never read the FAA report, but I am aware from others that the winds were at a sustained high and gusting about five knots higher. I'm guessing around the high twenties to low thirties wouldn't be unheard of. On that fateful day, Don crashed and was killed while attempting to land. And the world lost a great son, father, husband, soldier, and mentor. 

     Now I titled this another good deed, because it seemed to me that Don was a man of many good deeds. He retired from the U.S. Army as a mechanic. I met Don through the Knox County Flying Club. We were both starting in aviation in one form, but we were at totally different points in life. I have always collected military things, and Don was kind enough to give me some things from the Army for my collection. As time wore on, Don charged forward, gaining multiple licenses and ultimately flying for Penobscot Island Air. He really loved his job and the people he serviced. He was always at work, it seemed, and he always went above and beyond. 

     My favorite good deed happened when I was about fifteen. I was at the airport one day doing some cleaning in the flying club when Don showed up. He brought the plane out, I believe it was his dad's Cessna 150 but I forget, and began to hunt around for things to wash it. I helped break out the required equipment and we got to work. It was a bright summer day and Don was always fun to talk to. I'll never forget that when we were done he said "Well I suppose I've got to take you with me, you helped me clean it, after all." I wasn't expecting this as I didn't know he was going anywhere! It wasn't uncommon for guys to just come and wash their plane and hang out. Soon we were headed to Limington-Harmon Airport in Limington, Maine. We enjoyed a great breakfast at the fly-in hosted there and roamed around the airport a bit. Some folks had some very nice planes to look at, and it was fun meeting some new people. When we took off to head home, Don let me do the honors of flying us back. It was really a great day. 

     I never could have imagined I would one day live so close to that little airport in Limington. The same way I couldn't have imagined reading the news that morning in October of 2010. Although we had lost touch, Don was one of the many people whose kindness helped shape me into the man that I am today. I can not thank him personally anymore, but I can honor his memory by sharing this with you. I believe that you only truly die when the last person has spoken about you for the last time. I hope that Don's kindness inspires others to live an honorable life like he did. Thank you for your good deeds my friend. 

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