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In June 2000 we went to our first Grumman convention – the American Yankee Association met at Laconia, New Hampshire. For a flying meet, it could have got off to a better start. We needed an instrument approach just to get into the airport.

The convention scheduled four days full of events, a bit daunting for us as newcomers. The organization goes out of its way to welcome first-time visitors – they made us comfortable there almost immediately. Unlike other type groups, the AYA run several flying events at these conventions. It's possible for a visitor to spend all his time at the airport. But they also plan a few excursions away from the planes, recognizing that not all of the visitors have the same degree of flying obsession. Not all of the visitors are even pilots. The planes have at least one seat for those who don't fly.

With all the planned activity, we couldn't fit everything in, and didn't even try. We settled for a sampling of things going on at the airport, and took time for extra-curricular activities. Some were on the schedule, and some were not.

The parking line shows the gloomy aspect that stayed with the convention for a couple of days. This is unusual in the region, which is known for its blue-sky summers. Despite the clouds, over 200 people were here, in 104 airplanes.

This was the year we met Nigel Thomas, who rented one of the flying club's airplanes. We were also introduced to his notorious rubber chicken.

After a one-day postponement, the weather was good enough to run the flour bombing and spot landing contests. Here we're watching a flour bomber approach.

The bomb run has just passed. The judges are standing near the target, which was a pretty safe place to be. Not many bombs came close.
Then a volunteer measures the distance. That's a 100-foot tape.

Larry Haas flew this nice AA-1B from Kansas. His attention to detail even includes chrome plating on the cowl latches.

By the last convention day, the weather had improved considerably, and the race was on. First, Stu Morse briefed the contestants.

Then it was "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines."

It's a flying start - timing begins at the departure end of the runway. Here we see Greg Amy. A better version of this picture appeared on the front page of the local newspaper.

Once the racers are off, there isn't much for the judges to do until they all come roaring back about 45 minutes later.


The Shaker Village is in Canterbury, 18 road miles from the airport. It looks like they cut enough wood to last a while.

We listened to a lecture in the village schoolroom, and toured several of the buildings.

This is a washing machine.

Renovations were underway at the men's dormitory. Here are two views of the same path nearby, and the lake at the end of the path. Our guide did not explain about the missing gate.


We've been to the winter carnival at Alton Bay a few times – the first photo is from our visit four months before the convention. One evening we ate at Shibley's At The Pier, the same restaurant we usually visit in the winter. The gazebo certainly didn't look the same in summer. It's in both photos – they were both taken from the same spot..


The Loon Center is in Moultonborough, a 17-mile drive from the convention hotel. Also nearby is Squam Lake, where the movie On Golden Pond was filmed.

The Loon Center has walking trails and a wildlife sanctuary. One of the trails leads by a marsh to the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, where the Center maintains a nest for loons.

The nest is about 50 feet from the trail.


We saw this seaplane while driving around to Wolfeboro.

The town of Wolfeboro is right across the lake from Laconia. It's 27 miles around by road. There was an airport at Wolfeboro. Two or three years after our convention, a developer bought the property and closed it to the public. In 2012, the runway is gone (torn up), replaced by unnamed streets for 38 houses that have not yet been started. The adjacent seaplane base is still registered, but for private use.

Wolfeboro claims to be America's oldest resort town.


One night's dinner was a sunset cruise aboard M/V Mount Washington.

The movie Titanic was recently popular (1997). Some ladies couldn't resist the urge to re-enact its "flying" scene at the bow.

After the boat got in, we had to wait for the bus back to the convention hotel.

Some people got ice cream.

Some people just wandered around.


The Ruggles Mine is in Grafton, about 40 miles from the Laconia airport. Sam Ruggles discovered mica here in 1803, and tried for years to keep the mine's location a secret. He hid his product under farm products and transported it to Portsmouth in the middle of the night. From Portsmouth it was shipped to England, where it could be sold without arousing curiosity as to where it came from. The mine was highly profitable until it was eventually driven out of business by competition from cheaper mines in Brazil and India in the 1960s. This is an open mine. The view from its rim is spectacular.

On the way into the mine, visitors walk past a display case containing uranium, which was also found here.

Visitors are permitted to collect minerals here. If you don't bring your own equipment, the mine has hammers, picks, and buckets for rent or sale.


This is Lakeport, near the convention hotel …

… where sunset becomes an hour-long display of gold and a million colors.