I got the news today that my friend Balsey DeWitt has passed away. For those who don’t know who Balsey is, he was the captain of ALM Flight 980, which was the subject of my first book 35 Miles From Shore. I got to know Balsey and his wife Edith through the course of writing the book. I stayed at their house when I flew to New York to interview him. I also stayed in contact with him over the years since the book’s release.
I’d like to share one story about Balsey, or as Edith prefers, Dean. Not long after the book had been out, I got an invitation to fly to Aruba to make a speech about the book. The story takes place in the Caribbean as well as Aruba and Curacao. Balsey and Edith were also invited. I remember one event where Balsey, Steward Tito Cordeiro, and I were scheduled to meet for a brief press event. There was a long table and all three of us took our seats. I don’t remember any reporter asking a single question about the book. Everyone wanted to hear from Captain DeWitt. The image at the top of this post is from an interview the three of us did for a radio show in Curacao. Later when Balsey and I went to a bookstore to sign books. Everyone wanted the Captain to sign their book. We sold every book they had thanks to Balsey’s signature.
I have nothing but fond memories of that trip and the time I spent with Balsey and Edith. I hope the family doesn’t mind if I also share some images from that trip in the slideshow below.