From the e-mails and voice mails:
FRIENDSHIP FLIGHT -- In November 2008, I wrote about how Modesto's Debbie Vaughn made 14 trips to Romania over five years to get her adopted sons out of that country and into the United States.
Their flight into Modesto might have been the most important one of their young lives, but the one they made a year later became far more memorable. That's because in November 2009, the Vaughn family attended a pancake breakfast at the Modesto Airport.
The boys, enjoying their first Halloween in America, wore their costumes -- Nicolae as a modern-day pilot and Cristian as one of the Wright brothers -- and brought the cardboard airplanes an uncle helped them make. As they "buzzed" the hangar in play, pilot Chuck Swanson came over to introduce himself.
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"Then he invited the boys and I to go flying with him," Vaughn said, " ... that very same day."
It was an unforgettable flight, and it started a friendship.
"Mr. Swanson was wonderful with the boys," Vaughn said. "He was so caring and informative. It was truly a dream come true for my boys."
They wore their own headsets to listen to the radio chatter from the tower and got a bird's-eye view of Modesto and the surrounding area.
"As a mom, I was in awe and felt incredibly blessed," Vaughn said. "Here is a man that we just met, giving my boys and I an adventure of a lifetime. Mr. Swanson even made an extra landing at the airport in Oakdale so that both boys would have a chance to sit in the front and be the co-pilot."
The boys, now 8, made a scrapbook of photos and special notes and presented it to Swanson at another of the breakfasts.
When a military helicopter landed near the hangar, Swanson loaded the family into his golf cart and took them out for a closer look.
"I have seen firsthand the bond there is among pilots and 'to be' pilots," Debbie Vaughn said.
They lost their friend when Swanson died in a plane crash west of Angels Camp last week.
"We will miss Mr. Swanson greatly," she said. "Nicolae and Cristian truly lost a hero."
NO COVERAGE -- Some readers wondered if Harold Voelker, the Southern California man who recently got back the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup stolen from him in 1972, had theft coverage at the time and received a payoff from the insurance company.
The California Highway Patrol seized the pickup and returned it to Voelker two weeks ago after a Modesto couple tried to register it at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Modesto. A DMV official didn't like the looks of the vehicle identification number on the door jamb and sent them over to the CHP for further inspection.
The couple, Diane and Daniel Jones, had gotten the pickup from her father in Texas. He had bought it from a collector in Delhi in 1999 and had registered it with no problems in Turlock and Texas, they said. They were shocked to learn the truck they revered as a family heirloom was stolen property.
Voelker noted the readers' comments -- that if he had received a settlement from his insurance company, the insurer would become the legal owner of the car -- and called to address their concern.
"I only had PL/PD (personal liability/personal damage) on it," Voelker said. "I got nothing for it (at the time). And if I had been paid off, I'd have had to turn over the pink slip."
He still had the paperwork when officer Greg Bennett of the CHP called 38 years later to tell him the pickup had been recovered.
WAITING GAME -- In April, I wrote about Modesto's Randall Padilla who, last October, went for a Guinness world record for fastest guitar playing when he logged 23½ notes per second. While he awaited confirmation, his video made the Guinness World Records Web page. Then he set out to beat his own mark. On Memorial Day, with Dan Ferreira of the Modesto Symphony as a witness, Padilla cranked it up to 26½ notes per second. A self-taught guitarist who gives lessons at Langlois Music in Modesto, Padilla submitted that video to Guinness as well.
"It takes them four to six months (to verify and approve the record)," Padilla said.
In the meantime, he plans to add to it.
"Thirty's next," Padilla said. "But that might take a couple of years."
Watch the video from his most recent effort.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.