The Liberty Gazette
July 5, 2016Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Squinting, I can just make out a distant river meandering through broken canyons, like a large root with smaller branches disappearing into breaks in canyon walls. A plethora of color escapes the ground to meet my eyes, hues vary depending on the vegetation and rock formations through which this river has cut. How different this coursing flow of water that creates part of the border between Oklahoma and Texas looks from above than in the John Wayne movie, Red River. Everything looks different from above.
Linda: Our flight up to the Pacific Northwest that included a stop in Jerome, Idaho gave Mike plenty of opportunity to scan the dirt trails etched into the high rocky terrain below. He reveled in thoughts of hiking those rugged mountain trails. Formerly an avid wilderness traveler between jet-setting trips around the U.S. and the world, it’s something he misses here at sea level. A package deal would be so perfect, like the ones Adventure Pilot used to create in California – fly, bike, kayak, hike.
Meandering trails don’t have to be ground-bound. We recently discussed sky (or air) trails with Yasmina Platt, the Central Southwest Regional Manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Mike recalls one such trail that explores the natural wonders of the low-lying Anza Borrego desert near the Salton Sea in California’s Imperial Valley, and another that follows the Oregon Trail from Missouri all the way to Oregon’s fertile Willamette River Valley.
Yas told us she was going to create some new air trails in her region and publish them for pilots who want to explore and learn. She’s created two so far, and is working on more that provide flexible routes and fascinating tidbits on the history and geology of the areas, activities to try, and places to stay. Her first sky trail is “Flying Oz,” the Ozarks Trail! published on AOPA’s blog (http://blog.aopa.org/aopa/
Air trails have been around for decades and some have been hugely popular with significant backing by state parks or tourism departments. Self-guided, they are sort of a flying version of renting a recorded audio tour at a museum. Pilots study the trip beforehand, and print out the information or have it available electronically while flying the tour. With Yasmina’s Ozarks air trail pilots can start and stop the route at any airport and can rearrange the order in which to fly to listed points of interest.
Whether scenic serenity beckons, or you’re drawn to more physical activity, or, if you’d rather take in museums and shopping, its a pilot’s dream of a trip in the Ozarks, through Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Make it a weekend or longer, her air trails can be tailored to taste and style and are centered on flying, from community airports like Liberty’s to small dirt or grass strips out in the wilderness.
If you’re active on social media you can follow Yasmina on Twitter where she is @AOPACentralSW, and if you fly her Ozark air trail, she’d love to hear about it. Using #OzarksAirTrail in your Tweet will get her attention.
Mike: I think about the history of the towns like Coffeeville and Dodge City, Kansas as they slip beneath our wings. I see where rivers roam and envision history as it swept across the landscape before us. Yasmina’s air trails will inspire journeys that will become stories worth telling.