formerly "The View From Up Here"

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

Be sure to read your weekly Liberty Gazette newspaper, free to Liberty area residents!

December 27, 2011 Girl Scouts at Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport

The Liberty Gazette
December 27, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: It was a stormy day last week when eight girls, ages 8-9, climbed inside the airport fire truck. There a fireman entertained and educated the group, pushing the water cannon button blasting 750 gallons a minute in a high arch across the ramp so they could see how it works. This was the culmination of a field trip to the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport in Angleton, Brazoria County, Texas that introduced these Girl Scouts to aviation and their local airport. Their Scout leader planned the tour for the week they were out of school for Christmas recess.

Mike: Most people’s schedules are full this time of year and no other female pilots in the Houston area were available to join Linda, but in a pinch a male pilot will suffice. My schedule was booked, but Bruce Bohannon, super guy that he is, jumped in at the last minute. After setting and breaking something like 35 world records, and with superior air racing skills proven at the Reno Air Races, it would be easy to become a snob, but that’s not Bruce. He dropped everything to be there for the kids when Linda called for help.

Linda: We are fortunate to have such a highly accomplished, youth oriented pilot living in the area. He’s a great promoter of General Aviation, fabulous with kids, and his heart is totally into it. We wanted the girls to think of the possibilities; “the airplane doesn’t know whether you’re a girl or a boy.” Bruce piqued their interest when he said some of the best aerobatic pilots he knows are female.

Airport Director, Jeff Bilyeu, fully supported and took part in the event as well. An airport management professional with the highest credentials, Jeff has served in many capacities with the American Association of Airport Executives, and is respected in the industry nationwide. This Girl Scout troop got the best of the best.

With a 7,000’ runway and a new restaurant open, the airport has undergone many improvements recently, and more plans to improve services are in the works benefitting the community, the state, and country. Jeff’s involvement in the Girl Scouts’ visit shows his understanding of the importance of the airport director in public and civic events – as it should be.

Airport Customer Service Representative, Amy Moyle, started the session by telling the girls about the international women’s organization, The 99s, and introducing me. We talked about airplanes, what makes them fly, and women pilots. The girls were interested in why “airports are for people who don’t fly,” as we explored the products and services that benefit them which rely on General Aviation and local airports. Bruce shared stories of flying adventures, and together, Jeff, Bruce, and I answered many questions the inquisitive girls asked. During the hangar tour the scouts got up close to a King Air, a jet, and a helicopter, and were treated to a look inside the helicopter by one of the pilots.

At the beginning of the presentation all but one of the girls had never considered airplanes in their future. Afterward, every hand went up when we asked, “Who thinks they could learn to fly one of these?” For being a rainy, stormy day, it sure was brightened by this event.

December 20, 2011 The Flight Before Christmas

The Liberty Gazette
December 20, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

'Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care,
In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two forty at 39 knots
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick".
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Travel Air sleigh, with nine radial Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glide slope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?

While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking.
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho..."

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was eager to be drainin' the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"
He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed thru the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."

~ Author unknown

December 13, 2011 Courtney Carroll and Footprints in the Sky

The Liberty Gazette
December 13, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: Many kind hearted souls have jumped at the chance to help Courtney Carroll. Prayer, support, encouragement, and assistance have come from people in many industries. A benefit last year in The Woodlands raised money to help offset medical costs not covered by insurance, and as Courtney prepares for her third kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore the costs continue to be incurred, and so does the help.

Linda: I was alerted to Courtney’s case when I was “tagged” in a Facebook post by a friend. She had mentioned me to someone named Mari Ann’s, thereby making Mari Ann’s Facebook page accessible to me. I’ve never met Mari Ann, a friend of the Carroll family, who was looking for assistance in finding a medical flight to get Courtney from a Denver hospital to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Courtney was too sick to fly commercially. Our mutual friend, Linda Roe, brought me in to the discussion hoping I might have contacts. The Carroll family had already contacted Angel Flights and learned the limitations, such as the 1,000 mile distance limit and the inability to provide service when medical attention is needed during transport. Through the Corporate Angel Network corporations that own airplanes take sick people to hospitals when they have an empty leg going that way but cannot provide medical attention en route. As I was working to find help through my own contacts Mari Ann shared some good news. Footprints in the Sky (from the last line of the poem, “Footprints”, “It was then that I carried you”) a Denver based medical flight company that operates a medically equipped Citation 550 (jet) would take Courtney. The family was asked to try and raise $5,000 for fuel. Before I could even get the word out, one generous person gave the entire $5,000.

Mike: Courtney was flown to Baltimore the next day. Dr. Robert Montgomery commended her mother, Tami, who is also her kidney donor, for her efforts and said it's a good thing they arrived when they did. Courtney was in very poor condition. Tami is grateful to God for the direction this has taken, and the expertise of Dr. Montgomery, who has handled similar difficult kidney cases.

Right now, they are working to stabilize Courtney and find out why she's losing blood; possibly the rejected kidney, but possibly something else. She will be in the hospital in Maryland for at least two months.

Linda: When I shared the update with fellow pilots who had tried to help, one of them, Barbara Harris-Para, asked if there were any other needs the family had. What about a place for Tami to stay? So I sent out a follow-up note to Mari Ann and learned that Tami is staying at the McElderry House across from the hospital, for $700 per month.

If you’re looking for a secular year-end tax deduction, consider a donation to:

Footprints in the Sky,, phone 303-799-0461, or

McElderry House, phone 410-732-5464.

Courtney posted on the National Kidney Center’s Facebook page recently: Hi my name is Courtney and I am a recipient of my father’s kidney. My transplant failed and I’m back on the list. The most wonderful gift someone can give is an organ. This process reminds people of what love really is and I’m thankful to have it because I would not be alive were it not for wonderful people like yourselves. Thank you and God bless.

December 6, 2011 Balloon Glow and Christmas at the Old Fort

The Liberty Gazette
December 6, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: In Groesbeck Texas, 35 air miles east of Waco, adjacent to historic Old Fort Parker, is a new airfield. Dedicated to antique, vintage, classic and rare aircraft, privately owned Fort Parker Flying Field currently stands 2000’ x 74’ with plans to extend the grass runway to 2,700’. Attendance was higher than expected at the Field’s first fly-in, Old Planes At The Old Fort, held October 1st. The next event, a Christmas Balloon Glow, is this Saturday, December 10. The beauty of it is you don’t have to fly to be a part of it! This weekend, December 10-11, (weather permitting, of course) you are invited to enjoy Christmas At The Old Fort.

Linda: Texas history comes to life at this stockade fort that played a unique role in the settlement of our state. A 19th century timeline of entertainers and artisans will demonstrate Texas’ early history, and historic era reproduction Christmas gifts will be available to purchase. The living history timeline will span from the 1820s buck skinners to the 1890s cavalry, soldiers, and cowboy gunfighters. In addition to homestead and camp life demonstrations, artisans will demonstrate glass blowing, blacksmithing, knife making, woodcarving, pioneer cooking, flint knapping, cornhusk doll making, beading, crocheting, spinning, weaving, and soap making. Live entertainment will include Indian pow-wow dancers, gunfighter skits, storytellers, soldiers, dulcimer music, flute music and rendezvous games and skills.

New this year will be a Colonial period camp and demonstration of Confederate women’s lives. There will also be animals to pet, wagon rides, and of course, Santa.

Also new this year is the aforementioned Balloon Glow with tethered rides sponsored by Nadine’s of Groesbeck as well as a fly-in of vintage planes. If you can safely get your airplane on to a 2,000’ strip with 50’ trees on one end, you are welcome. Or just drive in!

Mike: Going by air? Darius Farmer is the official Chaos Supervisor and hired killer (usually just gophers, snakes, wild hogs and such, but do not press your luck). If you plan to fly in, call him at 254-747-0592. Pilots: the Field is located 31 33’ 54” North - 96 32’ 46” West, 4.7 nm south of the Mexia-Limestone County Airport, 1.2 nm along the 170 radial of GNL (Groesbeck) VOR, 2.5 nm north of the town of Groesbeck. It’s Bermuda turf (raked and rolled) with 2’x2’ white runway markers each 100’. The 50’ trees are on approach to 17. Normal traffic pattern is on the west side of the runway only. The Flying Field asks pilots to be considerate of residents on the north and east sides. Field elevation is 500’, pattern altitude 1300’ recommended maximum. Use 122.8 (Mexia KLXY), call sign “Old Fort” or “Fort Parker” traffic.

Ground-bound? Take Hwy 14 between Mexia and Groesbeck, turn on to Park Road 35 at “Old Fort Restoration” sign. Drive one mile to 866 Park Road 35, Groesbeck, 76642. You can’t really get lost in a town this size.

Linda: There will be food booths and lots of shopping opportunities. General admission is $5 adults and $2 children, with modest fees for overnighters and traders/vendors. Camping spots are available, as well as teepee camping, showers, bunkhouse rooms with shower access, a two bedroom house, RV parking with hook-ups, kitchen-dining facility for groups, and wireless internet in Fort headquarters. Contact them at (254)729-5253 or email