Larry Buller, a pilot and chief of maintenance for Basin Electric, was showered, literally, with appreciation from his coworkers when he returned from his final flight for the cooperative.
In his own words, Buller recalls the moments immediately after landing on April 26 in Bismarck, ND:
“Normally when we land, the tower will tell us to turn off at Charlie 3 intersection and taxi to the ramp. This time they were very specific: ‘Exit the runway at Charlie 3, taxiway Charlie, Alpha 2 to the ramp.’ Hmm, a bit unusual but not out of line.
“I did notice a fire truck sitting behind the snow piles along the ramp, but again they frequently take the fire trucks out and test them, so nothing unusual there and Ryan’s landing was not THAT bad. (It was his leg to control the aircraft, and my leg to handle the radios).
“About the time we rounded the corner, the fire truck started their main hose. Also about that time we could see a bunch of people outside our hangar and the brain cells put it all together. Ryan was in on it, but I was clueless. I was not expecting anything at all and it was a nice recognition of 27 years of service.
“I want to thank all that took part in the planning and execution of the super sendoff. I was very surprised.”
Watch video of the ceremonial sendoff, which was organized by Fred Adams, Basin Electric chief pilot and travel supervisor.
Buller started working for Basin Electric in August 1986 and will officially retire from the cooperative on Aug. 31, 2013. During his retirement he plans to continue a home-based business with his wife and son that makes computer-controlled machine tools whose main purpose is to manufacture instrument panels for aircraft. He also plans to travel in the RV7A aircraft that he built.
“I have really appreciated the family-oriented culture at Basin. All the money in the world means nothing if you do not like your work or coworkers or your family suffers because you are never home,” Buller says. “I especially appreciate the leadership, professionalism and culture of safety in the flight department. All of us pilots work very hard to find a safe way to make a flight work, but we have never been second-guessed when we make the decision not make a particular flight or go to an alternate airport. There are so many variables that make up a safe flight and it is usually not a black and white decision, but the training and experience will alert the pilot of the possible hazards.”