The field in back of our building was bordered on one side by a subdivision, by a horse pasture on the opposite side, and on the third side there stood a huge oak tree.
We advertised for weeks, and on the day of the event the field was full of kids. It was also full of gusting wind, courtesy of Springtime in Alabama. Word got to me that the helicopter was grounded out at the airport.
Thousands of kids, 17,000 Easter eggs, and no way to get them together. I had a problem.
What could I do? I’d promised an egg-drop so I had to deliver one—no matter what. The pilot scratched his head and offered to fly a small plane he owned instead of the helicopter. The plane wasn’t grounded even with high winds in the area. He couldn’t make as precise a drop, but if his brother hung out the door of the plane and they made a couple passes to calculate the drift of the eggs…it might work.
On the first pass, the pilot’s brother emptied a box of eggs out of the door and they caught a wind gust. Over in the subdivision eggs shelled everything: cars, roofs, and yards. People were running out of their houses to find out why they were under attack.
During the second pass, as the plane dove, the horses decided they were under attack. They went berserk, running back and forth, wild-eyed and frantic. But the eggs hit the target. Kids were scrambling for eggs.
That’s when someone pointed at the plane. Apparently the pilot was concentrating so hard on the egg drop that he’d forgotten about that big oak tree. He was racing straight at it, his brother hanging out the window and pointing.
The good news: the pilot missed the tree. By inches.
The bad news: between aggravated neighbors and an irate horse owner, the Federal Aviation Association pulled the pilot’s license for a time. And our church’s neighbors weren’t too thrilled with us, either.
It all worked out, the kids who were there had a great time but I still don’t like outdoor events to this day.
Every Easter I think about this story. About a year or so I was in Montgomery and went and saw the place where this all went down the tree has been cut down and the horses have been long gone. I'll never forget that day 23 Easters ago!