Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: After planning for more than a year, we took off in our Cheetah for a New England leaf-peeping tour. The rolling terrain dressed in beautiful fall splendor of Ash, Birch, and Maples draws many a foliage fan every year. Sojourning with the birds grants a great view of the countryside from Houston to Boston. Leaving the flatness of southeast Texas we marveled at God’s handiwork: the Berkshires, the Poconos, the Catskills, the Smokies, Appalachian, Adirondack, and Green Mountain ranges, each offering their beauty in turn. Winging our way northeast from a fuel stop in Chattanooga the landscape began to change from green and brown to shouts of yellows, oranges, and reds, becoming more brilliant as we crossed over West Virginia into Maryland.
Cumberland, Maryland was our lunch stop (gusty winds made the landing “sporty”). An adorable little town, population about 20,000, their historic, shopping, and restaurant district downtown is quite impressive with its brick streets, flowerpot-lined sidewalks, busy shops, unique galleries, restaurants, and prominent buildings of interesting architecture.
Linda: Following a scrumptious lunch in a Cumberland café, we were off to Bedford, our Boston area destination airport. In the air, New York Center controllers rattled a steady stream of traffic instructions to pilots, including advisories to us about airline arrivals crossing our path flying into New York’s busy airports: “Grumman 958, traffic, eleven o’clock, east-bound, 5,000 feet, three miles, a 747.”
A little further north, West Point Military Academy came in to view along the Hudson River. I said something to Mike about trying a water landing, Sully-style. He’d already had his moment of imposter-glory when he re-created that famous scene in a simulator. I remember the grin as he told me he’d landed “within one block of Sully’s landing” – in the sim.
Mike: Assisted by a speedy tailwind we sailed through New York and Boston’s airspace, flew over Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau, and entered the traffic pattern at Bedford, Massachusetts. In nearby Concord we had reservations at the historic Colonial Inn, which proudly faces Monument Park, the centerpiece of Concord’s downtown. There stands a monument to the area’s Patriots who hoped for peace but had to fight when the British “Red Coats” attempted to take over the town April 19, 1775. It was in that spot the townspeople gathered and waited as the King’s soldiers marched from Boston to Lexington and soon to Concord. Many of the buildings, taverns, meetings houses and residences there at the time are still standing. It was in Lexington, just east of Concord, where the British opened fire on townspeople, killing eight, and injuring many more including Prince Estabrook, a black man who was a slave, and served in the town’s militia.
Just a mile from Col. Barrett’s farm is the North Bridge which arches over the Concord River, where “the shot heard round the world” was fired. It was the first time Colonials fired on the British. The British Regulars tried to escape back to Boston but many died on what is now known as Battle Road. Our tours of Lexington and Concord, the first two battle places of the American Revolution seemed timely in today’s political climate.
Minuteman Park Rangers were outstanding tour guides, and the multimedia presentation was a top-notch production. On April 19th each year these battles are re-enacted, lest we forget.
The next town on our agenda was Walpole, New Hampshire, where we traversed New England’s longest covered bridge on our way to a bed & breakfast on a 100-acre organic farm. ‘Til next week, blue skies.