Native Vermonter, Vietnam War veteran, and private pilot Pete Laframboise of New Haven has had a long affinity for wings. The owner of Exchange Street Storage, and former owner of Pete's Citgo in downtown Middlebury, 62-year-old Lamframboise literally soars with eagles.
In 1948, at age 2, while toddling alongside his mother on the family dairy farm near Snake Mountain in Bridport, little Pete Laframboise was first bitten by the flying bug. He looked up and pointed skyward to a slow-moving, rumbling military aircraft.
"What's that?" the boy asked his mother looking up at what, to a two-year-old, was a genuine unidentified flying object. "Why, that's like a big bird that carries people in the sky," his mother explained.
"I don't know what plane - a DC-3, a B-17, a B-25, or a B-27," said Laframboise. "But I still remember this like it was yesterday."
From that moment on - and at some deep subconscious level - Pete Laframboise knew he was destined to become an aviator.
Jump ahead now to 1967. America was fighting a brutal jungle fight in Vietnam. Called up by the military draft, the 21-year-old Laframboise did his duty and joined thousands of other G.I.s and headed off to war. It didn't take him long to demonstrate a natural knack for aircraft engines (and automobile engines). He was assigned to serve with the Army's 1st Squadron, 10th Air Cavalry.
As a U.S. Army crew chief, Sgt. Pete Lamframboise flew as a left door gunner aboard an olive-drab Bell UH-1C helicopter. As an expert mechanic, the Vermonter managed some stick time flying the "Huey" while doing maintenance checks. He decided almost immediately to take the big leap and get a pilot's certificate when stateside.
After the Army, Laframboise's interest in flying made him somewhat of an aviation "groupie" at the Middlebury State Airport. He and airport operator and flight instructor Alphonse Quensel would go aloft in the senior pilot's roaring Stearman biplane.