The Liberty Gazette
May 20, 2008
May 20, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: Eating oatmeal out of a square plastic storage dish, the 80-something-year-old man sat content at the picnic table outside the pilot lounge. The morning was cool, as mornings are this time of year in Silver City, New Mexico. Mike and I were en route from Phoenix with our new-to-us Grumman Cheetah and stopped to meet Caroline Baldwin, my race partner in this year's Air Race Classic, the 32nd annual. It’s a women-only air race near the end of June. This year's route starts in Bozeman, Montana, and finishes in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
Caroline's husband, Bill, explained that the man having breakfast at the other picnic table was a pilot - airplanes and helicopters - and a mechanic. "He's flown just about everything you can think of," Bill explained. "These days he even sleeps in his hangar.” I love places like this, where we meet friendly folks who are passionate about aviation. One guy rolled up to the fuel tanks in an Aviat Husky, a fantastic little bush plane. I've seen bush plane contests in Alaska on the Internet where they compete for the shortest distance take-offs and landings, and it seems the Huskys always win. There were several different types of airplanes in Silver City that day and because of the annual cycling event there were more than usual at transient parking, including a Lear 45. A Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 landed right behind us when we came in the day before.
That reminds me, community festivals are a great thing to advertise to people who fly. Jacksonville, Texas is adding flyers to their annual Tomato Fest and this year the Chamber and City volunteers are hosting a fly-in pancake breakfast, calling that portion the Flying Tomato Fest.
Mike: This Cheetah we acquired had been in the same family since new and they always kept it in a hangar. It’s a low-time airplane in great condition. Leaving Phoenix, we decided to take turns flying the legs back to Houston. I flew first, stopping in Benson, Arizona, where we have friends. Linda started us off the next morning. Climbing out of Benson on a warm day, at max gross weight kept the climb rate relatively low; Benson's elevation is 3,829’, compared to 70' here in Liberty. But we climbed to 7,500' and after jockeying around a few mountains we landed in Silver City, elevation 5,446'. Leaving there, we took a lunch break at Fort Stockton. The west has much less humidity than Linda’s used to and it makes her thirsty. Four large glasses of water meant an unscheduled stop in Sonora, Texas for quick relief, then back up to the skies.
After tucking the Cheetah in for the night we soon got the news that the Liberty Chapter of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) is official – Chapter #1473. With all that’s going on these days we’ve put up a website so folks can keep up with all the news, including the upcoming Fly-In on May 31. Check out http://www.libertyairport.org and spread the news!
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com