The Liberty Gazette
June 16, 2009
June 16, 2009
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Mike: May 23rd found us picking our way around scattered thunderstorms to Ranger, Texas for the second annual fly-in and air show. Good friend and fellow aviation advocate, Jared Calvert, was Air Boss for the day’s events. Planning to arrive before 1:00 p.m. when the airport would close for the show, we flew VFR south of College Station where we picked up the IFR flight plan we filed before departure. Air Traffic Control helped us negotiate our way around the major storm cells and eventually we were in the clear. But all that sky dancing around storms cost us time, and U.S. aerobatic champion David Martin was already flipping his Pitts around in the air by the time we reached Ranger. We turned toward Eastland, six miles away, figuring we’d get a ride to Ranger, but Jared suddenly called on the local Unicom frequency and momentarily paused the show for us to land before the second act. A little embarrassing being late, but glad we made it.
Linda: Once on the ground we met up with our Hurricane Ike buddies, Rainer and Sharen, who flew from Houston in their Cessna 182RG. We gobbled up yummy BBQ, bought t-shirts, and Mike captured video of the acro routines. Despite thunderstorms in every direction and overcast over Ranger’s grass field, a large crowd came to enjoy the show.
But no one felt like stretching their luck with the threatening weather. After five unique aerobatic acts by world class performers, flying old 1930’s aircraft to the most modern of aerobatic airplanes, came a mass exodus of nearly 100 planes that had flown in for the event–a show in itself and great fun for all who drove in from surrounding communities.
Patrick Griffitts flew in from Seattle for the show, and says he took notes for his developing grass-strip airport in Groesbeck. After the festivities we traveled with Rainer, Sharen, and Patrick to Granbury for dinner, followed by ice cream to celebrate Patrick’s birthday (he was the only one with the discipline to abstain), strolled through the town, and then sat at the courthouse square, hangar flying late into the night. Rather than venture into hazardous weather after dark, we checked into a hotel and would fly home in the morning.
Mike: In the morning we stopped to put a few gallons of gas in the old police car we had borrowed, the one with ‘Granbury Airport Car #3’ painted on it, and parked along side three other former police cars which the City of Granbury maintains for use by airport patrons to encourage business and tourism in their city.
As we entered the FBO we spotted ‘the club’–old-timers sipping coffee and swapping stories. These gatherings are not unique to aviation; I know of one such group that gathers at McDonald’s here in Liberty. But old-time flyers love being at airports, telling humorous stories of adventures gone awry or remembering old comrades who’ve flown west. They love having new folks pass by to listen to their tales and jokes. This was our send-off committee who wished us well.
Linda: After a couple of hours popping in and out of clouds, avoiding the nastiest weather with Air Traffic Control’s help, we landed just in time before a storm cell hit Ellington Field. Next year we won’t be late to Ranger. They’ll have restrooms and showers and we’ll camp out the Friday night before. Love those grass strips!
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.