The Liberty Gazette
November 4, 2008
November 4, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: Patti Atkins’ Super DC-3 I was telling you about last week was actually a gift. “It was a wedding present,” she clarified. “After we got married, Earl said, ‘Come with me to Beaumont, I have a wedding present for you.’” Then she laughed, “That thing was a mess! It had been in a storm and the instruments were hanging out, there were holes in it, and one of the engines was off.” This is one of the neat things about Patti – most chicks would not be diggin’ this kind of wedding present, but she graciously looked forward to the adventure. Earl insisted she fly her Cessna 172 back to Harlingen, and he would fix up the DC-3 enough to get it back home. “It had the name ‘Doris’ painted on it,” she told me over breakfast. “That’s a big deal to have an airplane named after you.” Earl flew the airplane back to Harlingen and landed with only one engine running. Patti met him on the ramp with a bottle of Champaign and they christened the battered flying machine “Patti”, eventually repainted to replace the name “Doris” when repairs were made on the plane.
That was a nice wedding gift – as was their honeymoon, spent island hopping in the Bahamas – and now I’m imagining what airplane would look best with “Linda” on it…
Several folks have said they remember a DC-3 landing at Liberty. We weren’t sure we believed that, but now we know not only that it really happened, but that it was Patti who landed it here. “There isn’t much room here to take off in a Super DC-3. I had to get all the way back to the fence and start my take-off roll in the grass,” she grinned.
Atkins Aviation operated out of McAllen International Airport. One of the services they offered was flying freight – usually auto parts. With some important FAA certificates and Mexican government authorizations, Atkins Aviation served North and South America and the Caribbean Basin. “When I flew into Monterrey, the Mexican officials couldn’t believe it was a woman pilot,” Patti laughs. “They all came out to see the woman and asked if I am called a ‘Pilota’. I told them ‘No, it’s ma’am.”
At some point after Patti had been dropping parachute jumpers from the DC-3, she let it be known that she wanted to know what it was like to jump out of one, and soon she was tandem with another jumper and stepped out to log that first jump. What a gal!
In addition to the Citabria, the C172, and the DC-3, Patti has logged time in the Twin Beech, Martin B26 Marauder, Boeing B17 Flying Fortress, North American B25 Mitchell, Stearman, Navajo, Cessna 411, the Super Constellation, and a WWI airplane called a Moth Minor.
Mike: The Wings Over Houston air show returned to Ellington Field a couple weekends ago. Many of the same type aircraft Patti has flown were displayed in all their glory, including the Tora! Tora! Tora! aircraft performing their demo of WWII Airpower. I, like many pilots, have a lot of respect and, I might add, some envy for those pilots who’ve flown these planes.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.