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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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8, 2010 Adventure at Big Country AirFest part 3 of 3

The Liberty Gazette
June 8, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Part 3 of 3
Mike: While we enjoy sharing our love of aviation with folks who are interested, there are challenges associated with having an airplane on display to the public. Responsibility for crowd control around the race planes at Dyess’s Big Country AirFest rests on the pilots. We wanted to protect air show fans from unknowingly putting themselves in harm’s way, and protect our airplane from damage. One tot-toting mom tried to move a propeller (not a good idea) on a Beechcraft Bonanza parked next to us. I’m not sure whether she appreciated Linda’s warning but it was said in her best interest. Little kids naturally want to climb on planes; unsupervised children will climb on wheel pants and hang from wing struts. But it’s all part of the scene I suppose. One friend said recently, “Don’t ask me about digging Gummy Bears out of my pitot tube.”

But for all the adventure we encountered at Dyess that weekend, one turn of events had nothing to do with airplanes. An announcement was made early in the day for the owner of a certain vehicle to return to their car and get their dog out. The outside temperature was into the 80’s. Not long after that came a second announcement: “We have the best security here at Dyess Air Force Base! Let’s give them a hand. The window is broken and the dog is alive.” I don’t know what would possess someone to take a dog to an air show and leave it in a hot car all day. Thank God someone came to the rescue.
Linda: We remained one more night in Abilene, opting out of participation in the mass exodus that follows large public events. Mike wanted to hang loose for a time, so the place was pretty quiet when we left for the hotel.

Waking to a sunny Sunday, we enjoyed the morning worship service at the small base chapel before filing our flight plan and heading out. We taxied out, our Cheetah dwarfed by the huge B1B hangar, and departed southbound off Runway 16. The afternoon heat and Dyess’s nearly 1,800-foot elevation greatly reduced the Cheetah’s climb performance but we eventually managed to reach 7,500 feet. A little while later strong wind gusts kept us from landing in Burnet for lunch, which, as it turns out, gave us a new experience landing in Georgetown.

Nice place, great history, friendly people, and an active airport. Georgetown’s airport has two runways, neither of which was directly aligned with the wind that day, making for a sporty ride on short final, which turned into an uneventful landing. While waiting for one of the courtesy cars to return we discovered a unique museum inside the terminal. We browsed rows and rows of aircraft communication and navigation radios in display cases around the room, from old-time radio range receivers, to automatic direction finders and other types I’ve never seen before. I was fascinated with the collection, ignoring the growling coming from my stomach, when Mike suddenly laughed, saying, “Charlie’s been here.” Looking up, I saw Charlie Sisk’s book, “Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle” sitting on the shelf. An excellent pilot and good friend, Sisk, from Dayton, builds custom rifles. You will be hearing more about him.

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