formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

September 11, 2007 Excerpt from "A Day in the Life of America's Airports" written for AOPA

Liberty Gazette
September 11, 2007

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda:
From under the clear blue of the Texas sky pilot Chet Tims pushed open his hangar door at Liberty Municipal Airport, known to pilots as “Tango Seventy-Eight” (T78). We took a moment to chat with Chet as he pulled out his home built Sea Ray, an amphibious plane. Chet, now in his fifties, relies on his grandmother’s memory to answer the question, “what got you interested in flying?”

“Post war, B-17’s were still flying out of Ellington Air Force Base, and they’d fly right over our house. I was just a toddler, Grandmother says I’d run outside whenever I heard one and point up to the sky, ‘I want to fly one of those!’ I finally took my first flying lesson in 1978 and I was hooked.”

Work in the oil field took Chet away from flying for a few years, but in 1984 he resolved to return to his first love, and hired then-78-year old Pauline Glasson as his instructor. Pauline, now 94, who earned her pilot certificate under the auspices of Amelia Earhart, has flown over 60,000 hours as a test pilot, crop duster, sky writer, air ambulance pilot, and her biggest passion, flight instructing. “She was a real inspiration; a great pilot,” Chet says of Ms. Glasson.

Chet earned his license in 1991, purchased the Sea Ray kit in 1994 and registered it in 2001. With 680 hours he had yet to fly a passenger but today was a special day. Chet’s brother, Paul, was at the airport, hoping for a ride. Paul has ten hours of flight lessons and hopes to resume his flight training when his youngest child is out of college. Meanwhile, Paul is a great supporter of Chet.

To be sure the small home built can take the weight of two men, Paul and Chet fill the passenger seat with 150 pounds of sand bags. We listen on the transceiver as Chet does a few touch and go’s to test the extra weight. After a few times around the pattern he stops long enough for Paul to climb in. This is Paul’s first ride, and he’s excited.

T78 is home to sixteen airplanes, their owners from all walks of life. While Liberty’s airport may be small under the big Texas sky, the camaraderie and passion for flying is as big as the clear blue inviting us all to fly.

Mike: We met some new folks at the first ever Friends of Liberty Airport meeting last week. We’ll host more of these informational meetings as we continue to create awareness of the economic benefits possible for the entire community, well beyond the gates of the airport. Even if you don’t fly, the business that can be created from the airport, the jobs, education, and increased spending in the area definitely can benefit you.

Stay tuned. There’ll be more. Until then, blue skies…

Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com

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