For 25 years I would visit Griffin, Georgia, sent by the FAA for recurrent training in the DC-3s operated by Bob McSwiggan's Academy Airlines. Bob also operated two Carvair freighters from this airport south of Atlanta with only 3,100 feet of runway. The Carvair, Englishman Freddie Laker's DC-4 conversion, could haul massive amounts of freight, and seeing it take off and land from a 3,100-foot strip was impressive. They'd go out light, usually in the middle of the night, using every bit of the runway, to pick up and deliver big freight around the country or around the world. With its big bulbous nose (like a mini 747) the Carvair isn't a handsome airplane, but it's essentially a DC-4 and therefore, to me, beautiful. I'd crawl up in the cockpit and rest my hands on those four — yes, four — sets of props, throttles and mixtures and stare at the banks of instruments. There's little chance of anybody stealing the airplane; if you don't start from the ground with the correct foot on the first ladder rung and the right handhold, you'll never find your way up into the "front office." Once up there it feels like you're sitting in a second-story bedroom and flying your house.