Amazing Grace

Duncan Riefler Tannery 20210205 0900
Grace, Duncan Riefler’s Beechcraft Bonanza, means so much to him that the two sometimes even sport matching colors.


If you see a Beechcraft Bonanza embellished with green and purple stripes and a big “B” on its V-tail flying over Vero Beach, it’s probably Duncan Riefler’s plane with him at the controls. This Windsor resident has a skill and love for flying that is local legend, though it wasn’t always so.

In 2009, while living in Wimbledon, England, Riefler, at age 50, founded the Wimbledon Hoop Stars, a local basketball team, in what was considered a third-rate sport in the U.K. But since he loved the game and his 25-to-30-year-old teammates, he didn’t give a hoot about its negative reputation.

In one fateful game, though, while guarding an opponent, Riefler tore his left ACL, a key ligament in the knee. This injury required an operation followed by months of rehab, which intruded on his traditional summer with his family in Bridgehampton, on New York’s Long Island.

Riefler says, “I was bored out of my mind. All the fun athletic things I’d always done were off limits. No golf, no tennis, no ocean swimming. But luckily for me, our good friends Brian and Lisa McCarthy came to my rescue, saying, ‘Take out our plane, have a few lessons.’ The McCarthys owned a Cessna 182, located at Sound Aviation in nearby East Hampton. I could handle the controls since it was my left knee that was injured, and the takeoff is mostly foot peddle pressure for right rudder.”

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