The Liberty Gazette
May 6, 2014
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: The big Texas sky is abuzz with airplanes and helicopters signaling the start of a busy fly-in and air show season. With so many events the last weekend of April pilots had a smorgasbord from which to choose, and while murky weather may have dampened some activity by midday the cloud cover burned off, opening up for acts of aviation to be committed.
The good folks at the Cleveland Municipal Airport, Clay and Darline Dean, hosted “Renegades on the Runway & Crawfish Boil”, while Southwest Airlines Captain and Reno air racer Alan Crawford held a cross-country air race in Llano. Another Southwest captain and air race friend, Ryszard Zadow had a gathering at his grass strip west of Houston, which included flour bombing and target shooting. Vying for attention were air shows in Burnet and Lago Vista, and then there was the big one: the first-ever Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Regional Fly-In at the San Marcos airport.
The 400,000-plus-member AOPA has traditionally held an annual fly-in convention called “Summit”, but now under new leadership is returning to its grass roots focus by hosting five regional events this year. The first one was shaping up to be bigger than expected – more than 725 RSVPs scheduled to arrive within hours – so special procedures were enacted to handle all the aircraft, including designation of the New Braunfels airport for overflow.
Weather kept some away but more than 475 airplanes did finally alight on terra firma at San Marcos. Pilots brought aviation enthusiasts along to introduce them to the joys of flight and all the friendly folks involved. Thousands meandered the grounds to see display aircraft, visit aviation vendor booths and listen to well-known aviation speakers at scheduled seminars.
Linda: Master of Ceremonies, the immensely popular flight instructor, humorist, and author Rod Machado introduced a very important aviation supporter to the crowd: the mayor of San Marcos, a city that has done a lot of things right.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero is not a pilot, however he is an avid aviation supporter and he loves airplanes and what the airport is doing for his community. He spoke with genuine enthusiasm of the vast plans and hopes the city has for their airport, his comments answered by resounding applause and cheerful sounds. Rod, who is from California, stood up after the mayor’s address and exclaimed, “California needs a whole lot more mayors like San Marcos has!”
Speaking of mayors jumping into General Aviation airplanes with both feet and spreading their wings, our friend Yasmina Platt, the regional AOPA representative, took Houston’s Mayor Parker on an aerial tour recently. The mayor enjoyed the view and learned first-hand about airports as economic engines. Houston Airport Systems has three here (and more abroad) but the metropolitan area boasts several more airports making it a hotbed for business looking to relocate to Texas, bringing jobs with them.
Support been echoed by mayors across the country, more than 100 joining forces actively calling on the White House to recognize the value of General Aviation; 49 states have sent declarations to Washington (California fails in many ways).
Here in Liberty our airport has vast potential to help the area grow and prosper. There have been great changes in recent years and we look forward to more growth to come.