Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fort Parker Taylorcraft Fly-In 2013

So between work and flying, I haven't taken the time to write lately.  It's easy to set 'keeping the blog up to date' on the back shelf. 

My fellow Cessna 140 aviator Vic and I decided to head to Fort Parker for the Taylorcraft fly-in.  I warned the Taylorcraft group we were coming and had invited a lot of other 120/140s.  We almost had more of our planes than they had at their own fly-in!

On Friday, it was all I could do to stay at work.  I was trying to wrap up any issues and hand everything off.  As usual, I hadn't packed, so I had to rush home to get ready.  I finally got out of the office around 2PM, and to the airport by around 4PM.  I soon had the plane packed with about everything I could fit in it!  I needed a tent, sleeping back, some food and drinks, clothes, and of course camera gear. 

I fueled up and headed North.  I wasn't far from Taylor when I started hearing Fort Parker calls.  It was somewhere in the first 5 minutes of flight when work faded away, stress started to disappear and thoughts of vinage airplanes, friends, and camping under the wing started to relax me.

I soon spotted the airport and entered a right downwind for 17.  To land on 17, you come in over some very tall trees.  I like to slip hard and get down quickly so I don't chew up the 2000 foot runway.  This was a great landing on one of the nicest grass strips around.  I barely felt it and I know myself well enough to know the runway gets the credit!

I followed the bright green flag to my parking spot next to a beautiful polished 140, which turned out to belong to my new friend Bo.  On the other side of Bo was Vic in his polished 140, which makes many a pilot jealous!  So we had three 140s lined up in a row with our tents set out.  What a sight!

As I exited the plane, Jed Keck was there to greet me.  He's the owner of this incredible airport.  We had emailed back and forth over the last few years, but this was our first true meeting.  It's hard to describe how generous this man is.  Sharing this nice venue with us is an incredible gift and we're truly grateful!

I setup my tent, then wandered around taking photos (I know, you're shocked!).  I saw the light was quickly fading, so I decided to see what I could do with some low-light photography.  I was pleased with the results.

We finished off the night by sitting around the planes having a few drinks and telling flying stories.  I think at some point Vic decided he wanted a list of planes I haven't flown as it would be smaller than the list of planes I have!  It crossed my mind that I was exactly where I wanted to be.  No stress, no worries at all, sitting under the stars with friends drinking a beer!  If it gets better I don't know how.

Eventually we retired and headed for the tents.  It got cold, but I think I may have slept better than I've slept in years.  I would wake up occasionally to the sound of a train off in the distance, or coyotes howling, but that just added to the ambiance.

As the sun came up, I heard some activity, so I poked my head out of the tent to find a hot-air balloon team setting up.  I took some photos, then headed up to join Jed and Darius for a cup of coffee while we waited for it to launch.

Later in the day, people from town started coming out to check out the event.  It's always fun to answer questions about our planes.  It's especially cool when little kids take an interest.  When you ask if they want to sit in the plane, you can see their eyes light up.

As the day progressed, we had breakfast and lunch with a very fun lady Sarah who runs the fort.  Only her charm is better than the food!  After breakfast, we had some contests of flour bomb dropping and landing.  I was standing out in the field with the camera wondering how bad it would hurt if I got hit by a bag of flour!  I'm glad I didn't find out!  I'm not sure they appreciated my comments about how I would be safe if I stood on the target! 

Saturday afternoon I headed for home.  I wanted to stay another night, but running back and forth down the length of the runway had taken it's toll on me.  I took off and turned South to find a line of storms!  I thought a few times on the way home that I should just turn back and spend the night again.  But the storms parted and I made it back safely.

All in all, not a thing I would change.  It was a great event with great food and good times were had by all.  Can't wait until June when we head back for a Cessna 140/120 celebration!

You can see all of the photos by clicking here.  There are way too many to post here.  I'll put a few of my favorites below.  Hope you enjoy them.

Jack "Pioneer Flyer" Fleetwood