The Liberty Gazette
June 24, 2008
June 24, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: Very cool happenings in Liberty last Tuesday. We were honored to receive Mr. James French, an “EAA-er” (Experimental Aircraft Association) when his one-seat open cockpit bi-wing, an Acro Sport, landed at Liberty Airport on a journey re-creating an historic flight.
The late Sam Burgess, another EAA-er and author of “The Jungmeister Junket,” wrote of his excursion flying to all 50 states in a Bucker Jungmeister in 1970, and again when he flew to the 48 contiguous states and Alaska in 1974 in an Acro Sport.
James French and Sam Burgess became friends about that time, and Sam urged his buddy to venture out and experience the journey first hand. Now, thirty-something years later, James French is retired and has the time to travel. And he’s doing it in an Acro Sport.
He left Fort Meyers, Florida Sunday, June 15, and will end up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the annual EAA AirVenture – the world’s largest fly-in.
In a recent EAA newsletter, members were encouraged to contact Mr. French with an invitation to make their home airport one of his stops. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the chance, having the newest EAA chapter in the nation right now.
Mr. French emails brief notes daily summarizing his visits. His first day out on the Sam Burgess Memorial Junket 2008 took him to Jefferson Landing, in North Florida. Two EAA Chapters gathered there to hear his stories and host him for a hamburger cook-out. Day two took him into Pineville, Louisiana, where he stayed with a long-time friend of Sam Burgess’s, with plans to venture on to Lufkin, home to a couple of very large and active EAA Chapters anxious to greet him.
Mike: This isn’t Mr. French's first attempt at this junket. In 2005 in his 108-horsepower Bakeng Deuce he flew 9,500 miles but had to stop short when the airplane couldn’t make the climb to clear Mullen Pass in the Rocky Mountains west of Helena, Montana. Last week Mr. French noted in one of his daily emails, “I still haven't discovered any short-field qualities in the Acro Sport. Under 90 mph it has all the aerodynamic qualities of a number two grain scoop thrown from a hay mow. Wheel landings are fine but it doesn't like full stall three point landings.”
If you’d like to join his email list, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be happy to share his adventures with you, and you’ll enjoy tracking the journey of this 71-year old man who says he’s “working hard at not growing up.”
The Air Race Classic started this morning and ends Friday. Linda should return with some interesting stories. And this edition of The View From Up Here rounds out our first year. Our thanks to Cynthia Kuslich for allowing us the opportunity to share adventures in aviation with friends and neighbors here in Liberty and beyond. We hope our column is raising awareness and interest in general aviation, and brings something new and interesting to the community, as we look forward bringing you more stories from the sky.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.