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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.
The Shaker Village is in Canterbury, 18 road miles from the airport. It looks like they cut enough wood to last a while.
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 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.
One night's dinner was a sunset cruise aboard M/V Mount Washington.
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.