The Liberty Gazette
March 15, 2011Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Lots of news has been piling up in the world of aviation, from here in Liberty and beyond. The Valentine’s Treasure Hunt made several national aviation publications and feedback has been great. Participants enjoyed the hunt, and once again our belief that airports are for people who don’t fly was confirmed. We tout the economic benefits of airports, seeing proof time after time. I ran into Sherry Mettlen in Thrifty Foods the other day and she was all smiles, as is usual for Sherry. She’s a living advertisement for Carol Bond Health Foods because she never runs out of energy or cheerfulness. In fact, as we were registering pilots to fly in the hunt, we began to run low on the liability waivers they have to sign. Sherry rushed one across the street to RJR Floor Covering, and in typical small-town-friendly style, they made ten more copies for us. Isn’t it great when people work together for good?
Sherry was quite excited to tell me how she’s already benefited just from that one fly-in event. She has a new customer who is ordering supplements. He came for the treasure hunt and because Sherry was there to promote her business and the Liberty area in general, she gained a customer, and no doubt she made a positive impact on behalf of the airport, the people, and the town. We need more Sherrys in this world. I know of a few airports in other cities that face difficult situations with neighbors. Why anyone who doesn’t like airplanes would buy a house next to an airport is beyond me, but it happens. That’s one reason TXDOT was adamant while I was on the Airport Advisory Board that Liberty needed height hazard zoning. Its airspace zoning that complies with FAA standards to protect both airplanes and people on the ground. And it helps when people are real estate shopping, they will find out (if airplanes low overhead aren’t enough) that they’re near an airport, and that airport needs to have its airspace protected. It took awhile to get accomplished, but when the cities of Ames and Liberty and Liberty County finally formed the Height Hazard Zoning Board those protections were put into place. A lot of improvements can be made on what we have, and the airport has a friend at City Hall in Gary Broz.
Meanwhile, we’re facing a major overhaul on the Cheetah. During a regular inspection we discovered cylinder #3 was cracked. We got more time out of the engine than the manufacturer thought we would, so we can’t complain. And now will be the perfect time to upgrade the stock engine. Its 150 horsepower from the factory is de-rated by the stock exhaust system, by about ten horsepower. Installing an upgraded exhaust system can raise the horsepower to its rated 150, and we’ll see an increase in our cruise speed. One of three other major modifications we’re considering will improve engine cooling by changing the cowling. Cheetah cylinders typically run hot, so that modification is quite popular, as is a cylinder compression upgrade to 160 horsepower. All this will probably lead to a new propeller, but I’ll have to use my feminine wits to break that news to Mike. You know how it is when we women go shopping.