The Liberty Gazette
September 23, 2014Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: A couple weekends ago we scored some tickets to the Red Bull Air Races in Fort Worth when a friend had a sudden change of plans, giving us prime seating for an exciting show of speed and aircraft agility. The weather was a bit dicey when we began our trip but we weaved through the broad expanse between two large thunder-bumpers and made a fuel stop at the airport here in Liberty before continuing north.
Deviating around weather as we approached the Dallas area, air traffic controllers were quite helpful threading us through the threatening storms while avoiding the busy approach paths to both Dallas Love and Dallas-Fort Worth airports. We landed at the Alliance airport as massive dark clouds were inching toward the end of the runway from the south. Only the eerie background music was missing from that scene.
Lickety-split, we secured the airplane, tossed our baggage into the back of a pick-up, and jumped in for a ride up to the terminal before the first raindrop fell. Tomorrow, we hoped, would be better flying weather for the races.
Linda: The weather had calmed for Sunday’s spectacle of high-speed turns around inflated pylons, vertical reversals and mad dashes to the finishing gate. Over the Texas Motor Speedway each plane flew its heat races solo and was timed from entry to exit with a few penalties assessed for not having wings level at specific points, being too high or too low as it rounded pylons. Fun to watch once, but I’d rather be participating.
At the end of the race we visited the pits where each of the eight contestants had temporary hangars. Most of the planes racing in Red Bull races are Edge 540’s, built by Zivko Aeronautics in Guthrie Municipal Airport outside of Oklahoma City. They look fast just sitting on the ground.
Mike: We’ve had a short break in our racing schedule as of late but will be back at it full throttle in a couple weeks in Tullahoma, Tennessee for the Tennessee 150 Air Race. Following that we will be participating in one closer to home in the only air race that takes place in Liberty County at the Cleveland Air Race Revival on October 11th.
Airport Managers and FBO owners Clay and Darline Dean will be hosting the race with a lot of support from the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.
The public is invited to come out and enjoy the festivities. The 150-mile zigzag cross-country race course will start and end at the Cleveland Municipal Airport and cover much of the northeast corner of this county and occasionally crossing into the neighboring counties. Racers will takeoff at 30-second intervals and accelerate to race speed as soon as they reach a safe altitude.
There is no admission fee to watch. Many folks come out to just look at the pretty airplanes, talk with the pilots and enjoy a day at the airport. Come and join us for "racing for the rest of us" in Cleveland. It’s guaranteed fun.