The Liberty Gazette
June 18, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike & Linda: Special thanks to our guest columnist, Debbie Mabery. Enjoy!
Debbie: In February of 2012, my husband Jose and I peered through the chain link fence on the south side of the Liberty Municipal Airport. We could see two faded orange hangars of another decade to the west dotted with trash, one modern beige hangar to the north surrounded by weeds, acres and acres of waist high grass and not a person or plane in sight. After a few moments, I glanced over to see Jose smiling.
"The airport is beautiful! It just needs some work….mowing, painting, and a lot of cleaning. Debbie, what do you think?" he asked as he started to take pictures.
"I agree; there is something very special about this airport. I can’t stop grinning as I look at it! It just needs some attention. If you are hired as the manager, wouldn’t it be great to help revitalize it?" I responded enthusiastically.
Now just over a year later, thanks to the support of the City of Liberty and many long hours put in by my husband the airport manager, city employees and volunteers, Liberty Municipal Airport has gone through a major transformation. It is no longer that sleepy airfield we first saw. So, two Saturdays ago it was time to let everyone know Liberty Municipal Airport is alive and well by holding a public airport celebration.
At the open house, laughter could be heard yards away and smiles could be seen wherever you looked. Every time a pilot was heard on the radio announcing his approach, excitement spread through the crowd. And when planes exited the taxiway to the ramp, people paused in awe of their stylish paint jobs and powerful engines.
Over one hundred people and two dozen airplanes were part of the day’s events. Everything from a 1957 Piper PA-22-150 visiting from Oklahoma to a Citation jet lined the ramp at one time or another. Brian Bertrand president of the Beaumont Radio Control Club and five club members brought their amazing collection of radio controlled planes and helicopters to entertain the crowd with high flying and daring stunts. Captain Brad Taylor and his crew from the Liberty Fire Department grilled tasty hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch in the unforgiving Texas sun while visitors dined in the shade provided by the newly constructed t-hangars.
And to the delight of all, two precision flight formation shows were performed by Dennis Irvine and three other Freedom Flight pilots from Conroe, Texas. The Freedom Flight pilots are former military and professional airline pilots who fly at community events to foster patriotism and remember those who have served our country. The four RV aircraft decorated in red, white, and blue made several passes over the airport to impress the crowd with well executed formation flights and smoke trails.
In the end, the airport celebration provided the last element needed to complete the airport’s renovations….people and planes! Yes, it is official, Liberty Municipal Airport is once again a place for aviation to come alive and be shared by all.