The Liberty Gazette
November 4, 2014Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: It isn’t every day you can walk out to the main street in town and watch airplanes taxi by, not being towed, but under their own power, propellers spinning. Not just one, but a whole parade.
Over the years the city of Palm Springs, California has hosted such an event where locals and visitors alike line the sidewalks to watch the parade of planes come through town.
Everyone loves a parade, and in Palm Springs folks find a bit of shade from a palm tree, sit back and enjoy the view as a great variety of airplanes taxi the route that follows main thoroughfares through downtown and to the city’s convention center where they park, on display for all to see and ask questions during the week of Aviation Summit.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association created and sponsored the event biannually for many years but now that the AOPA’s focus has shifted to regional events held in several places throughout the country – and finding great success drawing huge crowds – the very popular Flying Magazine, published continuously since 1927, is behind the prop-wash, stepping up as sponsor to keep the tradition alive.
Mike: We recently made a trip west that included a brief stop-over in Palm Springs to visit with one of my childhood friends. Tim and I grew up on the same street along with 40 other kids, and as kids do we had many adventures hiking, biking, climbing trees, going to the beach, hunting up frogs and even making trips in airplanes when I first became a pilot. Tim, now a middle school teacher, was one of my first passengers.
Tim’s home in Palm Springs basks in the silhouettes of the San Jacinto Mountains to the west, San Bernardino Mountains to the north, Joshua Tree National Monument to the east and the Salton Sea to the south. Temperatures in the summer months exceed 100 degrees regularly and it rarely gets close to freezing at the city elevations. It’s a popular place for vacationing in the winter months as it’s moderate temperatures at that time of year are offset by close proximity to recreational activities in the mountains such as hiking, backpacking, rock climbing and skiing. One thing on my list of things to do "someday" is to scale the peak of San Jacinto via the snow creek route. This is the longest and most vertical climb in the lower 48 states, over 9,600 feet up in less than four miles horizontal distance.
This is also part of the area where the Sky King serial drama was filmed in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s full of rugged backdrops and dry lake beds for Sky’s Cessna 310 named "The Songbird" to land.
Flying through the passes and over the deserts and ranges of Sky King country triggered memories created during the thousands of hours I spent flying here.
Maybe some of the pilots flying to the Aviation Summit earlier this month found themselves looking for landmarks from the Sky King series. Spectators lining the boulevards may have had their imaginations spurred to think about the Golden Age of Aviation as the magnificent flying machines paraded by.