OLD TOWN, Maine — Every weekday evening at about 6:30, Bob Hart taxis one of his small planes down a runway at Bangor International Airport and flies off into the sky. On board, he’s carrying about 130 pounds of bank documents — canceled checks, loan contracts, inter-office memos. His destination is Bedford, Mass., with a quick stop in Auburn to take on more sacks of paperwork.
“It’s all in heavy bags with locks on the zippers. We can’t get into any of it,” Hart explained Tuesday afternoon during an interview inside his new hanger at Dewitt Field, Old Town’s municipal airport.
Hart is relocating Spirit Aviation, his air freight, charter flight, mechanical services and flying school business, to Old Town from the airport in Pittsfield, where he’s been since 1987. The hangar he’s been using in Pittsfield recently was sold, he said, forcing him to look around for a new home for his business, two of his fleet of four small planes and his team of four employees.
Hart, 70, is a wiry man with thinning hair and a tattoo on his left forearm. He said Old Town strikes him as a growing area.
“We got a nice hangar here, and we’re closer to Bangor,” he said. He has taken over the hangar recently vacated by the Sewall Corp., which recently moved to a more spacious facility on the other side of the airfield. He is keeping two planes there: a 1983 Piper Navajo seven-seater and a 1980 Piper Aerostar five-seater.
Old Town City Manager Peggy Daigle said Tuesday that Spirit Aviation is a welcome addition to the municipal airfield.
“It brings a viable business to town and utilizes excess hangar space,” she said. In addition, the company will purchase fuel from the city, boosting municipal revenues.
Though he offers a breadth of aviation services, Hart said his regular turnaround flights each day for Bank of America are his bread and butter. The paperwork he transports to Massachusetts must arrive at the Federal Reserve facility in Malden before midnight, Monday through Friday. Regardless of the weather, the zippered bags must go through.
“If it’s snowing in Bedford and that airport’s closed, we’ll land in Boston,” he said. A ground courier meets the plane and transports the bags to Malden.
By 10 p.m. most nights, Hart is back in Old Town.
Hart said he’s prohibited from advertising for passengers on his nightly freight flights.
“But seats are available if people want to come,” he said. His planes can carry up to a half-dozen passengers.
“It would be … economical,” Hart said. Potential passengers can reach him at 487-3648 or, after May 25, at 827-4499.
Hart, who lives in Canaan, plans to build a new hangar in Pittsfield and will operate out of both sites by late summer. He’s still keeping two of his planes on the tarmac in Pittsfield, where he provides skydiving flights for Central Maine Skydiving.
“I just fly the airplane,” he said with a grin. “They can jump out if they want to.”