Friday, August 30, 2013

Bo and Jack's Great Adventure!

So my job has been brutal lately. I'm worn out. About mid-week, my friend Bo sent me an email asking if I wanted to fly to Lufkin on Saturday. I told him I had actually been considering flying up to Mesquite to meet him and fly somewhere from there. He suggested Nachitochis, LA. Sounded good, but we would't make it there!

My plan was to fly to Fort Parker, spend the night, then fly to Mesquite to meet with Bo on Saturday morning. Bo was having none of that, he was going to join me at Fort Parker!

Friday morning I was at my hangar packing, watching storms to the North, but soon launched to the NorthEast to get around them. My plan was simply to fly. Just go with no certain plan, but to eventually make it to Mesquite to meet up with Bo, then fly to Fort Parker.

I flew by Fort Parker at about 3,000 feet and kept going. I looked at a couple of airports, and Ennis looked like a cool option as it's on a small lake, but I figured I'd head on to find some food. I ended up in Lancaster where they have a nice little diner. After eating my chicken fried steak and tots, I loaded up and hopped over to Mesquite. Soon Bo was there. We relaxed in his hangar for awhile, then we were on our way to Fort Parker.

Fort Parker is one of our favorites. Even without a fly-in event, I called to see if we could come out and the airfield manager said to head that way! Jed Keck is the owner of the field and he has a great place. He travels a lot as he's a super secret helicopter pilot spy or something, so Darius Farmer manages the place for him and Jed couldn't have picked a better guy for the job! We always feel welcome.

After a night of drinking plenty of beer and catching up, we got up early and headed back to Mesquite for fuel. Bo wanted to take me to Cedar Mills for lunch. Wow, what a cool strip. You fly over the lake to land, and the runway begins at the water's edge! Pretty cool and I can see taking a lot of photos there in the future. If you have an engine failure on takeoff, well, you'd better know how to swim! This is an airport that is on my list for some future visits! After we landed, a very cool Cessna 182 (yeah I said it), two more 140s and a Luscombe dropped in. The 182 was painted like a 57 Chevy complete with fin!

After filling our bellies and checking out all of the other planes, we took off and headed back to Mesquite. Our friend Dean who is also based there came out and I got to check out his RV. He was able to fit it under the wing of his Luscombe, so he's got a plane for two different types of missions! I finally had to admit it was time to go home. It was hot, so I climbed to 7500 where it was 50 degrees and I got a groundspeed of almost 130 mph! That made for a pretty quick ride home.

I'm now refreshed, ready to go back to work, but looking forward to the next adventure! Thanks Bo, I needed that more than you know!

Jack "Ready to Go Again" Fleetwood

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Texas 120/140 Fly-In 2013

As caretakers of these airplanes from the 40’s, I don’t think we could honor them any better. These events we fly to, sitting out under the stars telling stories of 100% truth with no exaggeration, having an adult beverage or two… if you listen closely you can almost hear the airplanes sigh. They are at home on the grass field next to an old fort amongst others of their kind.

When Travis and I got there, we found two 140s already parked on the field. Vic was there as was Jack. We pulled in and got ready to setup camp. It was hot! We tied down our planes and decided to wait on setting up our tents. It was so humid we were drenched.

Ed soon arrived and not too much later Bo arrived. I had quite a few kids come over to see my plane and it’s always fun to hear their questions. They just have a different way of looking at things. I even showed one kid how to roll an airplane, and then how it would be different to roll a P-51 Mustang! He really loved airplanes!

The last plane to arrive for the day had Tim as pilot and his son Paul in the co-pilot roll. They flew almost 12 hours to come spend the weekend with us! Paul would later tell me he’s building a plane inrom as his Dad gives him spare parts. He said he hopes Dad needs new yokes soon so he can have the old ones! He also explained the plane belongs to him and his Dad, not his Mom! Great kid, glad you brought him Tim.

Vic’s brother-in-law Coy provided us a great meal of smoked sausage, beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket, and beans… nice! We do it right in Texas. Thanks to Coy for a great meal!

We often found ourselves looking for shade since it was hot. I didn’t mention that before, did I? Eventually it cooled off and there were even some thunderstorms not too far from us.

We ended up sitting around our planes catching up with old friends as the sun set. Dean would give us a nice fly-by in his RV, which was very cool. He came back the next day in his Luscombe. Ed eventually turned in, followed by Vic, then Travis, leaving Bo and I to solve the world’s problems and trying to decide if we needed one more beer (we did). We watched a storm off in the distance and Bo decided it would never reach us. I figure it was easy to convince himself since he was staying in one of the old WWII POW bunkers, not in a tent like me! I wanted to sleep under the stars and decided no matter what I wasn't going to put on the rain-fly.

We finally called it a night. I headed over to the fort for a shower, then back to the tent. I noticed he storms were much closer. I still went to bed, but about an hour later I was putting on the rain-fly! It did sprinkle and thunder a little, but most of the rain missed us to the North.

The next morning I got up early and packed the tent. This would be the first fly-in in awhile where I didn’t have to pack a wet tent. There were some showers in the area and I wanted to get it done.

Sara of Old Fort Parker served us a great breakfast and later lunch. Don’t know what we’d do without her. It’s nice to get out of the heat (forgot to tell you it was hot) and enjoy some good food.

Before lunch we had a few people try their hand at flour bombing. Chuck and Bo would go first, then Ed and Dean decided they could do better… they did! Something about not dropping the bomb 5 minutes after they passed it (it sure is fun to judge everyone from the ground!) Ed was closest, but disqualified himself by admitting he got a little low (very classy Ed!), and Dean took the trophy.

Stu and Al showed up in Stu’s beautiful polished 120. Glad to meet both of them finally! We shared some time hiding from the sun under Stu's wing.

At lunch there was some debate about the spot landing competition, it was determined Chuck couldn’t land his Cessna 150 mains first before the line, then drop the nose wheel after. He grumbled about it, but ended up winning anyway. He only had one competitor in Brandon, in his Cessna 140A. I think I may have heard someone in the audience mention Chuck having a training wheel on the 150! All in fun!

So I’ll see if I can add this up. We had 2 Luscombes, a Taylorcraft, an Avid Flyer, a Bird Dog, a Cessna 150, a Cessna 120, and 8 Cessna 140s. I don’t think I missed anyone.

Saturday afternoon, most of us decided to get out of there (it was hot), leaving behind only the dedicated few. My plane sure was a dog getting out of a 2000’ grass field. I was glad they had a notch in the trees and the South end of the field! I got rained on a couple of times on the way home, but it was nothing rough. I actually had a very nice flight home.

A lot of people pitched in, but Vic White organized this event. He’s a great representative for our organization and did a nice job. I’ll vote for him to do it again. Thanks Vic!

As always thank to Darius, the airfield manager, for being a great host. We’d expect nothing less from him and he proves it time and again.

The owner of the field, Jed, couldn’t be there this time due to work, but how could we not thank him for providing such a great venue? Thanks once again Jed.

Those of you who made it, it was good to see you again or meet you for the first time. I’m glad we have these little planes in common. For those of you who didn’t make it, you missed a great one. We had tons of fun and it was nice and cool both afternoons. You don’t know what you missed, next year come on out. Now lots of photos. Hope you enjoy...

Till next time,
Jack "Takes too long to post events" Fleetwood