The Liberty Gazette
August 2, 2016Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: In last week’s piece I mulled over aviation-and-the-arts as topic of the week, finally pondering the potential superpowers of nail polish design to match our airplane’s paint scheme. The good news for Team Ely is that it worked. Not that the tailwinds weren’t involved in helping us get to the finish line fast, but at least stylish nails were a part of the story - fingers in red and toes in black-and-white checkered flag attracted a few good-humored photographers.
The long trip to Mitchell, South Dakota was broken up with a stop in Austin to pick up my friend Kathleen, an airline pilot who had never raced before and was going to take Mike’s place in the race since he had to work. There was a huge benefit in this substitution because Kathleen probably weighs in at half Mike’s weight - a relevant factor if you want to fly fast - so I started calling her “Point Five”.
Point Five, the Elyminator, and I pushed through headwinds all the way, stopping in Hinton, Oklahoma and Norfolk, Nebraska for fuel. The day was hot - even way up high in the sky, but hotter on the ground. The upside though is stopping at small communities where the airports are well maintained, restrooms are clean, and a friendly person opens the door to an air conditioned pilot’s lounge and offers ice cold water - with a smile.
Lady Wellman is not self-dubbed royalty but received her name because her parents just liked the sound of it. She makes visitors feel welcome in Oklahoma and you can see “a woman’s touch” in the airport’s terminal building - comfortable seating areas, tasteful decor, and tables full of snacks, coffees and teas, and ice cold water.
One of the pictures hanging on the wall at the Hinton Municipal Airport was a photo of a bear, and the words, “Bear with Me”. Turns out, the poster is the cover of a book she wrote, published by Tate Publishing. Here’s a teaser from their website: “A long awaited date should be special, except in Bear with Me, Hannah and Michael find themselves scrambling through the woods in a fight for their lives. After stumbling upon illegal activities, these two opposites are forced to discover one another's attributes in order to survive. This lighthearted Christian suspense will have you on edge one minute and laughing good-naturedly the next.”
Lady and I chatted a bit about our respective books and after some time cooling down Point Five and I hopped back in the Elyminator to fly to the next fuel stop further north, but still 100 degrees. There, too, were friendly people who offered us a courtesy car to drive in to town to get something to eat.
This is one of our favorite things about hopping around the country stopping in small towns with low fuel prices. It’s the people. The great people.
As we flew over the town of Mitchell I pointed out the only Corn Palace in existence, something my substitute race partner had never seen nor heard of before. With plenty of daylight left Point Five and I landed at our destination, joining so many friends who enjoy the same addiction we do - competing for the fastest time across the sky. Even Mike Patey, who flew “Turbulence”, his highly modified 850-horsepower kit-built Turbine Legend 438.02 mph - without nail polish.