The Liberty Gazette
November 11, 2008
November 11, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: We’ve touched on some of Liberty Airport’s interesting history, from its humble beginnings as a grass strip, serving the area’s agricultural needs, to today’s push to reach its full potential as an economic generator. Patti Atkins and her late husband, Earl, are an important part of that history. For Earl’s birthday in 1991, Patti surprised him with an air show and a party. That was the last air show we’ve had in Liberty, and it was Earl’s last birthday. After he passed away Patti eventually sold the aviation business in McAllen and returned to Liberty County where she now runs a successful oilfield welding business with David Chandler. And while she says she doesn’t necessarily miss performing at air shows or flying cargo into Mexico, she does stay in touch with her aviation buddies in the Valley. I think she’d make an excellent Air Race partner.
Speaking of women in aviation, check out the WAI Scholarship listing for 2009, at www.wai.org/education/scholarships.cfm, offering more than 40 scholarship opportunities. Application deadline: November 28.
Mike: For inventors: figure out how to build a submersible airplane like the Flying Sub dreamt up by the creators of the movie and TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will be very interested. Make your invention capable of flying 1,000 miles, then another 100 miles skimming the surface of the water, and then able to travel under water for 12 miles and hang out down there at a depth of 13 feet. I bet your phone will be ringing.
The National Coalition for Aviation Education met last month in Washington, D.C., bringing educators from around the country to share ideas, network, and learn the latest about aviation and space. ProJet Aviation (Winchester, VA) is doing something we’d like to do here in Liberty.
They recently hosted the 3rd Annual Aviation Education Expo bringing in over 300 high school and college students, teachers, and parents to learn about the many career opportunities available in the aviation industry. Lunch was included at no charge, donated by local restaurants. Along with an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including female Navy F-18 and F-14 fighter pilot, Lt. Meagan Varley, career information was offered for more than 45 occupations, including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, technicians, writers, photographers, law enforcement, medevac nurses, security, mapping, armed forces, lobbying organizations, insurance specialists, and charter schedulers, to name a few. Co-Sponsor, AOPA, brought in a flight simulator to pique the interest of the curious, and for those who would rather keep their feet on terra firma, Shye Gilad, President and CEO of ProJet Aviation, pointed out that of the many opportunities in the aviation industry, some don’t even involve learning to fly.
Linda: I called Julie O’Brien at ProJet after the Expo and asked how it all went. She sent pictures and a link to the TV news coverage and was genuinely excited about motivating young people. “It would be impossible,” she offered, “to leave this event and not be inspired by the experience and opportunities.” What a great vision our area educators could adopt.
Mike and Linda salute our Veterans and thank each and every one for their selfless service to our country, defending our freedom.