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, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012 Hangar Talk

The Liberty Gazette
September 25, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: “Out of the blue of the western sky comes SKY KING!” Those words were spoken over 50 years ago by Mike Wallace, who rung up a long career in radio and television, much of it on 60 Minutes. But back then, his deep and authoritative voice announcing the start of Sky King was my call to duty every Saturday morning to pay attention to the black and white picture of a twin engine airplane swooping down across a dry lake, then flying right toward me, buzzing overhead with the best view the TV cameras could give. Nabisco sponsored the show and their cookie advertisements sang, “Reach for Nabisco – Reach, Padner!” Cowboys, the West, and airplanes; Sky King, his niece Penny, the Songbird, Grover City and the Flying Crown Ranch were important to a seven-year-old kid. The show fed the great sense of adventure, anticipation and wonder in a lot of little boys, and probably some girls, too. I wonder how many pilots today can trace their passion for flight to Sky King.

Beginning in the 1940s as a radio show, it was later was adapted for the new media, television. Watching our collection of episodes I’ve recognized many of the places it was filmed, such as the opening scene. Are you old enough to remember that? It was a dry lake – Lucerne Dry Lake bed, not far from Apple Valley, California. The Flying Crown Ranch was actually the Apple Valley Inn, once owned by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Many of the scenes at the airport of the fictional town of Grover, Arizona were filmed at Whiteman Airpark just north of the Hollywood-Burbank Bob Hope Airport. Vasquez Rocks State Park was where a lot of the ground scenes were made. Big Bear Lake and Holcomb Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains were backdrops for Sky’s Cessna 310, “Songbird,” as she made turns to landing on “the airstrip just behind the hill.”

Schuyler “Sky” King (played by Kirby Grant) was a hero in every sense of the word because he rescued us from obscurity and taught us right from wrong as we rode along in his adventures. Does any program on the tube today do that?

Linda: Mike indeed has fond memories of those old television shows. Now reality shows being the in-thing, Ice Pilots and Flying Wild Alaska have been fairly successful, and several Internet podcasts have replaced what would have been broadcast on radio many years ago. But most of today’s podcasts are created for pilots. Enter Mike Landry, host of Houston’s 950 AM radio, Hangar Talk, a new show with big plans. Landry, a helicopter student pilot, is bringing aviation back to radio in a whole new way with his Sunday morning show. With the help of co-host Terry Sonday, a flight instructor, the pair brings interesting guests from every facet of aviation imaginable, and takes calls from listeners during the two-hour live broadcast. They’re not just targeting pilots, but anyone interested in aviation.

Landry has hosted home improvement shows for many years, and when he finally found the time and finances to take flying lessons it was only natural the very animated and enthusiastic new pilot would have to take his hangar talk to the air waves. We’re glad he has, and expect you’ll be reading more about it here.

www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 18, 2012

The Liberty Gazette
September 18, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012 The Lindberghs

The Liberty Gazette
September 11, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: “Well, when I was a kid I made up my mind that I was going to be six feet tall and I made it, plus one inch.” Jimmy Stewart, portraying the Lone Eagle Charles Lindbergh in the movie The Spirit of St. Louis spoke that line. I wonder if it was a Hollywood writer’s imagination, or did Lucky Lindy actually say it? I may never know, but I do know that Lindbergh’s non-stop solo flight across the North Atlantic in 1927 changed a lot of lives. It was the flight that opened up a whole new world of adventure for many young boys and girls, and ignited fascination and a love affair with a fledgling industry that soon grew by leaps and bounds. The world got smaller; far off lands came closer…and aviation is now a 250 billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Seventy-five years later Erik Lindbergh retraced his grandfather’s prop-wash across the North Atlantic in a modern piston-powered single engine airplane: Long Island, New York to Paris’ Le Bourget Airport in 17 hours and 7 minutes. Although that’s considerably faster than Lucky Lindy’s historic flight of 33 hours and 30 minutes, there can only be one first time and that will always be the elder Lindbergh’s legacy.

In the ten years since his transatlantic flight, Erik has not sat still. Taking the opportunity to benefit three different charities, Erik has raised more than one million dollars. One recipient of his generosity is the Arthritis Foundation; he suffers with the disease and it presents a challenge on long flights. Now in his mid-forties, he has already had both of his knees replaced, yet he maintains a very active lifestyle which includes snow skiing and other pursuits.

Another organization special to Erik is the X-Prize Foundation, which administers the Ansari X-Prize, one that seeks to promote private reusable spacecraft and space tourism. The first winner of the $10,000,000 X-Prize was an obscure (unless you are active in the aviation industry) company called Scaled Composites. In 2004 they launched the same privately built spacecraft into space twice in a two week period, returning its test pilots safely back to terra firma after each launch. Erik, having served as a Vice President and Board member of the foundation was on hand at the Mojave Spaceport to witness the first flight. It was a similar award which Charles Lindbergh won for his solo transatlantic flight, the Orteig Prize of $25,000.

In 1977 as part of the fiftieth anniversary of Lindbergh’s transatlantic crossing, the Lindbergh Foundation was formed to work toward finding a balance between the furthering of technology and environmental conservation through education and scholarships. The foundation, of which Erik is a Director, also oversees the Lindbergh award, honoring individuals whose work has made significant contributions toward concepts Charles Lindbergh believed in. The list of past notable recipients includes General James Doolittle, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Neil Armstrong.

Last week we wrote about the young Amelia Rose Earhart living a life that would make her famous ancestor proud. Here, too, is Erik Lindbergh, whose work honors the pioneering spirit of people just like his grandfather. Amelia and Erik could have rested on their family’s laurels, their famous names – they could have milked it, but they haven’t. Instead, they’re making a difference.

www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4, 2012 Amelia Rose Earhart

The Liberty Gazette
September 4, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Too often on Internet and television channels I’ve bumped in to those celebra-stories attempting to make news of “Where are they now?” Honestly, who cares, other than their personal friends and loved ones? National hero, Neil Armstrong’s life and accomplishments are far more significant to our present and future than are antics of geriatric rockers or drug addicted former child actors. Consider the lives that have been a true gift, from people such as Billy Graham, and Liberty’s own Jim Clemmons. From an aviation standpoint though, there are some folks who really stand out. For instance, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

You probably heard the exciting news announced by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), concerning discovery of more evidence – stronger evidence – of Amelia’s lost plane, her Lockheed Electra. You might recall we’ve been following the search closely because our good friend, aviation archeologist and anthropologist Megan Lickliter-Mundon has been one of a select few chosen to participate in the search. A little over two weeks ago, August 17 to be exact, TIGHAR roared the news that their forensic imaging specialist, Jeff Glickman believed the high definition video taken during the group’s most recent trip in July showed pieces of man-made debris. TIGHAR President Ric Gillespie called it “a debris field in a place where there should be a debris field.” Maybe soon the 75-year old mystery will be solved. But that’s not so much where we’re going with this “Where are they now” question. That would be tacky. What we want to do is take a look at the heritage they left us, and the people who are carrying on.

In 1977 Amelia’s great-niece and namesake took up flying, saying, "On my first landing I couldn't help but think, 'This was how she felt.' I know how she felt when she first took the controls.” And now two generations later another of Amelia’s namesakes, a distant relative named Amelia Rose Earhart, is planning to circumnavigate the world in a more advanced aircraft, a Cirrus.

She wasn’t sure at first whether she’d even like flying, but after trying it out said, “I left my heart up there.” Now 29 years old, since completing that famous trip around the world won’t be enough, Amelia Rose is using her name and heritage to encourage others through a foundation that will not only teach people to fly, but equip them with so much more as a result. In our youthful bliss we tend to believe we can do anything we want, she says, “then something in high school switches and you’re told things you ‘need to do’ – especially for women. I want to make sure that magical time when believing that anything is possible isn’t lost.”

The life of this Denver journalist is shaping up quite interestingly. You can follow her blog at www.FlyWithAmelia.WordPress.com, in which the witty, wise, and poetic pilot posted, "I would say I feel lucky, but that would be a lie. I feel in control, smart and focused on completing this goal, enjoying each and every takeoff, landing, heading change and altimeter setting."

What would she say to the Amelia Earhart? “Blue skies and tailwinds, Amelia… you actually changed the world.”

Catch up with us next week when we take a look at Charles Lindbergh and those who followed in his contrails.

www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 28, 2012 Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Liberty Gazette
August 28, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: Peering out from the vast green forest over even greater expanse of desert, visibility more than 200 miles, I looked down upon an oasis city surrounded by groves of date-palm trees that stretched off in the distance. Behind me, a boulder, wood and steel-beamed chateau, from which a vast complex of trails fans out, but no road or vehicle can be found. I imagined the energy and planning expended to build it here in this high mountain wilderness. One of the closest roads is eight miles away on the other side of the mountain. If one dared to step off and descend nearly vertically, about four miles in the other direction toward the city below, a road could be reached after losing nearly 6,000 feet in elevation and traveling through several life-climate zones in the process.

Linda: How does one get to this isolated paradise, escaping the sweltering heat from the desert below to a place where a jacket will be required? By tram! A human engineering marvel conceived in 1935, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway waited nearly three decades to come to fruition. Built with private funds, construction of the tramway started in 1960 and opened for business September, 1963. No roads invaded the rugged wilderness for its construction. Of the five massive steel towers upholding the cable on which the tramway’s 80-person capacity cars travel, only one, the lowest, is accessible by road. So without the benefit of roads how did the tramway get here? Simple, it flew! Yep, it was flown in by small bubble-canopy Bell 47 helicopters – the kind used on the TV show M.A.S.H. It was the first time anyone ever used helicopters in such a manner to the exclusion of all other forms of transportation during such an undertaking.

Mike: The Bells flew 23,000 missions through the nearly vertical crags, exposed to constantly shifting winds and turbulence. They lifted over 5,500 tons of material up the mountain for the construction of four of the five suspension towers and the mountain station at the top – 8,516 feet above sea level, in the midst of the San Jacinto Wilderness. Some of the board-and-plank helipads used during the original construction period remain on the mountain, reminders of this ingenious use of helicopters. A couple of the helipads are visible from the tram cars as they ascend and descend along the four-mile track. One span between two of the towers is two and a half miles, the longest single cable span of its type in the world.

Linda: From the mountain station the 10,834-foot peak of Mount San Jacinto is reachable by hiking an eleven mile trail that climbs a mere 2,300 feet, providing an even more spectacular view of the surrounding area. This peak is the terminus of the most vertical escarpment in the continental United States. If climbed via the rugged mountaineering Snow Creek route from the valley floor it’s a vertical gain of over 10,000 feet in a little less than five miles. Because of Francis F. Crocker, the man with the vision who pursued the tramway’s creation, and the little helicopters that could, people can escape to enjoy the high mountain meadows and climb peaks without undertaking such a grueling climb to get there.
www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com