The Liberty Gazette
May 21, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Fly-in season is off to a great start! Thanks to SocialFlight, an app I downloaded recently, I can check my phone for all manner of aviation activity anywhere in the country, and view it in list or map view. I love the map view, because it provides a good visual perspective on relative distance. Each event is displayed with an airplane icon, and all I have to do is tap on the icon and – bam! – there it is, all the vital information we’ll need to join the fun.
Mother’s Day weekend began with a Friday night concert in Houston. The weather was unruly and vengeful toward airplanes so we opted to listen to Mercury perform Beethoven’s fourth and fifth symphonies while the storms blew across Texas. Saturday morning brought beautiful flying weather so we hopped in the Elyminator and headed west to Smithville where their Chamber of Commerce pitched in to put on the annual fly-in and airport open house. Food, door prizes, airplane beauty contests, and Young Eagles (airplane rides for kids ages 8-17) put smiles on many faces. I was especially happy to see several special needs kids included in the fun.
I roamed the ramp amongst the airplanes and two EMS helicopters on display in search of people with clipboards. These judges would have the power to declare that Pitts S1 (small, single-seat aerobatic biplane) with the awesome paint job, to be the winner of at least one category in the beauty contest, so I had my work cut out for me. Then Amy landed in her very rare Stinson Gullwing, and I began to see our chances for the "most unique" category fade away unless I could sweeten up the sweet talk. We did get some snickers when we showed them the words "Stuck In Traffic?" painted across the bottom of our airplane.
Mike: The Smithville fly-in was great fun, but we also had Critters Lodge on our minds. The three-day long fly-in ranks as one of our all-time favorites but we’d only have Saturday afternoon to come up to play. So off we flew to the Dillard Ranch near Centerville where Wendell and Beverly host an amazing aviator party each Spring and Fall on their 300-acre ranch with a 3,100’ beautifully maintained grass runway. There are cabins and camp sites, and a hangar about three times the size of our house, where guests gather for every meal. It had been over a year since we’d seen Wendell and Bev, who once loaned us a tent and sleeping bags on our anniversary so we could stay to enjoy the fun. As always, Wendell greeted us with the most humble and gracious, "I’m proud you’re here," and Bev’s face lit up when we walked in the hangar – she was eager to talk about getting involved in air racing.
After an afternoon of food, fellowship, and fly-bys, we returned to the Elyminator for a single low pass to say "thanks" and "see ya next time" and headed back toward Houston with the setting sun.
Linda: Sunday morning we’d meet at a different church for the baby dedication of our sixth grandchild, Gabriella. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.