The Liberty Gazette
December 1, 2009
December 1, 2009
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Mike: The honor guard of veterans lined up on the grass facing the flagpole, awaiting the fly-by of seven RV airplanes called the “Vans Air Force.” Sweeping in low from the south, over the field, the flying formation turns on a trail of red, white and blue smoke while the Star Spangled Banner plays over the PA system. The procession begins and the observance commences with the raising of the American Flag followed by The Pledge of Allegiance. Such were the opening ceremonies of the annual Covey Trails Fly-In west of Houston.
Covey Trails Airpark is a residential community in Fulshear where people park their planes in hangars next to their homes. Residents at the 3,300-foot long by 100-foot wide well-manicured grass airstrip host an annual open house and invite the community around them in for BBQ and a day of fun. This year it fell on Oct 17 and it was a gorgeous day for flying–not a cloud in the sky.
Linda: We departed Ellington Field in our Cheetah arriving at the airpark before it closed for a half hour for the opening ceremonies. An empty lot set aside for transient aircraft was where we parked, along with a dozen other planes, including a 1940’s era Boeing Stearman. Elsewhere in the airpark some 50 or so aircraft arrived for the day’s activities along with those that call Covey Trails home.
Like many fly-ins around the country, this one wasn’t just about airplanes. Antique cars, old military vehicles and even an armored personnel transport vehicle were on display. Kids laughed as they played on inflated bouncy things, and we all browsed the tables of silent auction items. I bid on three items, but only won the old-looking flying goggles. Now all I need is the silk scarf and the Stearman.
Mike: After the flag-raising and patriotic fly-bys, the Vans Air Force aircraft landed and the pilots lined for grub with everyone else. People walked about, looked at airplanes, and asked questions of the pilots, all of whom just love to speak airplane. Of course, for pilots food is always a central focus, but Linda was excited about another grand aerial event, the flour bombing contest.
After a safety briefing participants took to the air in flights of three or four aircraft at a time, and at about 100 feet in the air made three passes over an “X” laid out on the runway. With each pass, the “bombardier” tossed out a flour “bomb” tagged with the airplane’s registration number. The bomb that lands closest to the center of the X wins. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially if you have an airplane with the wing attached at the bottom of the fuselage and that cannot operate at really slow speeds. However, it’s a ton of fun and definitely a challenge.
Linda: Mike did a great job flying at a tilt, but I have lots of room for improvement in my bombardier skills. One of our three shots came close, but not close enough. Fellow Ninety-Nines, Elizabeth Frankowski and Suzanne Fain won the contest. Elizabeth flew the Cessna 182 while Suzanne reached behind her to drop their bomb out of the pilot-side window – the only one that opens. Their closest drop came within seven inches of the center of the X. But look out next year, girls!
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.