The Record, Tuesday, July 24, 2001
Flights of fancy
By JENNIFER BLENNER
While a steady stream of corporate jets, Cessnas, and other planes glide off Teterboro Airport's runway, about a dozen people in cars gather on the other side of the barbed-wired fence.
It's about 12:30 p.m. on a pleasant Friday afternoon, but people would be there on almost any other day, too. There are almost always people there.
On this day, 56-year-old Rick Cronk of Wayne is one. And so is Bob Perkins of West New York. And Ewa Dabrowski of Rockaway. And Lorraine Consalov, Jeff Murphy, and Bill Byron.
They park their cars in a gravel parking area off Route 46 and Fred Wehran Drive, and get as close to the action as they can. And they are close. Planes soar 50 feet above them as they watch from 650 feet away.
"Sometimes we have as many as five or six cars at a time," said Lanny Rider, the airport's manager. "People bring their kids and eat their lunch. I think there is still a mystique with aviation and airplanes."
It's that love of aviation that draws Cronk. "This is a quiet place to relax, have a smoke, and have something cold to drink," he says.
On any given Friday, Cronk can be found parked, watching the planes. "I am on the job and I am on the road working," he said, puffing on a cigarette. On this day, he was on his way to Little Ferry when he stopped to take a break.
Cronk knows his planes and in some cases, who owns them -- especially if they're famous. He looks up and says, "There goes George for the weekend," referring to George Steinbrenner. "I know whose plane is whose."
And the noise? There have been numerous stories about how much it bothers nearby residents, but for Cronk, "It is something you get used to."
He's not alone.
But the way Consalov, 42, looks at it, "I guess when you have kids it really isn't that bad. I come to relax. It's convenient because I work right across the way and I bring my lunch."
And what about the others parked nearby?
Dabrowski, 34, is also a mother, and brings her kids. "My son wants to be a pilot so I take him here to watch the planes," she says.
She works close by but doesn't come every day. "I get sick of restaurants," she says. "It's just a change for me."
Why does Bill Byron, 60, of Lake Hopatcong, come to Teterboro to eat lunch?
"I have no clue," he says. "When I am in the area I come here for 10 minutes to do nothing."
Murphy, 38, of Leonia, a pilot in his spare time, enjoys seeing the different types of planes -- and knowing who owns some of the them.
And Perkins, 61, of West New York, becomes almost poetic when talking about watching planes.
"If you like flight," he says, "you will like watching it. It is the same way you would like watching a ballet dancer."
He then talked about the mix of gracefulness and mechanics: "It is a puzzle in motion that comes together.
"I am watching human ingenuity that is what a lot of these airplanes represent, what has been accomplished."
Cronk, who was in the Air Force for four years, also gets philosophical.
"It is poetry in motion," he says, referring to a plane overhead. "It is amazing that a little person like you and me can fly those things."
And Teterboro, he says, offers more than other airports: "This is a place where you can see them up close. I just like to see them."