The Liberty Gazette
August 23, 2011Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Just the little unpainted Grumman Cheetah and me, winging our way back from Indianapolis following The Indy Air Race; she may be an ugly duckling now, but after a new paint job, er, make-over, she will be stunning.
The large storms we encountered en route were circumnavigatable, and when the Elyminator began to feel thirsty, she brought me to a small airport in Newport, Arkansas. Her thirst quenched, I saddled back up and we climbed out past Little Rock, contacting approach control for traffic advisories on the way into Houston. Passing east of Shreveport well above the haze layer the sun was setting, reflecting a host of hues through the prisms of raindrops and ice crystals in the lower layers of the clouds to the west. An intricate symphony for the eyes, a vast gourmet setting so awe inspiring one can’t help but want to share it. Alas, photos from a cell phone camera can’t convey what my eyes soaked in. That beautiful view of colors suspended in the atmosphere is reserved for those who escape the bonds of gravity, separated from the ground by a mile or more of air molecules, as we were, the Elyminator and I.
From wheels up at Indianapolis Executive Airport to wheels down at Ellington Field, total time to travel, including the fuel stop, was accomplished in seven hours. Not only did I marvel at the scenery, I was also not inconvenienced with having to go through a security line and being subjected to a head-to-toe search for whatever they look for. I simply loaded up, climbed in, and blasted off. Even with the high price of fuel these days, the bottom line comes out about the same as a round trip airline ticket–without the hassle and with the wondrous exhibition of God’s pageantry of color. To make the same trip by airliner would require arrival at the main airport at least an hour before departure, with likely one or two leg transfers at Chicago, Atlanta or somewhere. Add to that the time it takes for the rigmarole of checking bags and picking them up at baggage claim at the other end; one could easily spend more time journeying by airline than I did flying myself. The only direct flight offered by one airline cost more than I paid in fuel and with it I would still have had to endure the federal government’s impositions on airline passengers.
A contrasting scene from airline travel, as I taxied to the hangar a couple of friends in an adjacent hangar stopped working on their airplanes to come out and greet me and helped tuck in the Elyminator. Our version of “baggage claim” was pulling my car up to the airplane and unloading my bags. In a few minutes I was on my way home with no lines, no hassles, and for less than the price of an airline ticket. As an old Western Airlines ad used to say “It’s the only way to fly.”
Linda: And, it sure beats driving. The race in Indy went very well, especially for a first-time race, and in spite of a first-time race director. More on that another day. Until then, blue skies.