formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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September 26, 2017 The People of Liberty, Texas v. Hurricane Harvey

The Liberty Gazette
September 26, 2017
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

We had planned to bring you wonderful stories from Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia, but unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey’s deluge ruined that. Ten days of Vacation Croatia turned into four days of Vacation Rodeway Inn, Humble. Trapped on our way to the airport shortly before it closed, thinking we’d get out just in the nick of time, there was no place to go but the next hotel parking lot. We have nothing to complain about. While so many lost so much in the floods, our house was untouched. That fact is due to the superheroes who saved Liberty from becoming part of an enlarged San Jacinto river bottom.

Breaking from the world of aviation, we want to thank those we know of who spent days saving the levee around Travis Park, and ultimately the city.

These are the people to whom we are grateful that we had a house to come home to when we could finally escape Humble:

Water Control and Improvement District (WCID) #5 members, James Poitevent, Skeet Raggio, and James Leonard. James Poitevent was at the levee from Sunday morning on through the week. He oversaw the entire operation like Mel Gibson in the middle of the firefight in “We Were Soldiers”. With his contacts in construction and the oilfield, he raised up a mighty army to face down Harvey’s attack.

The other two WCID members, Walt Patterson and Victor Lemelle, held the fort in Ames, watching over ditches affecting Ames and the Liberty Municipal Airport.

Alton Fregia, of Daisetta, brought five tractors and numerous men who worked twelve-hour shifts. They made a formidable team.

We were in trouble, folks. Serious trouble. Had it not been for the community coming together, bringing equipment and manpower, most of the city would likely have been under water.

Arnold Smart, of Smart Oilfield Service, brought pumps, as did Curtis Hudnall of Curtis & Son Vacuum Service. Dwight Lumpkins, of Clay Mound Sporting Center, brought two pumps. Dwayne Johnson, of Johnson’s Trucking brought a track hoe and himself. John Hebert, lifetime superhero, supplied fuel for all these vehicles.

Oscar Cooper, of Cooper Electric, was there from Sunday morning on, trying to keep an ailing pump running, one of two owned by the city and the WCID.

David Chandler, of Oilfield Welding and Fabrication in Daisetta, brought his expertise and equipment, and we’d have been bad off if he hadn’t. David used a plasma cutter to cut steel plating to cover a grated hole so the water wouldn’t blow up through a drain.

Tim Killion, of Texas Armory, flew drone reconnaissance for an aerial view of water levels.
City Manager, Gary Broz and City Engineer, Tom Warner were just as dedicated to the safety of Liberty and stayed on the scene during the critical time.

Surely there are others unnamed here, but no less heroic. Thanks are inadequate for what our neighbors did to save our city.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com 

September 19, 2017 How the Coast Guard Watered Their Roots

The Liberty Gazette
September 19, 2017
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: The United States Coast Guard began as part of the Treasury Department and was tasked with stopping rum runners and moonshiners during the prohibition era of the 1920’s and ‘30’s. I know of a Coast Guard pilot who flew back then. Once while searching for illegal stills in the hills of Kentucky, he let his airplane get too low. The corn whiskey makers shot him down. He climbed out of the wreck and spent two weeks on the run and finally escaped the area. Had he been caught by the mountain dew peddlers, nobody would have known what happened to him.

The Coast Guard was created out of two other entities: The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, and the U.S. Life-Savings Service, which helped shipwrecked sailors. The origins of these groups date back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, respectively. In 1878 the U.S. government took over and merged them in 1915 to form the U.S. Coast Guard.

While the USCG focus is on the water, its aviation roots reach back to the beginning of powered flight. Four members of the Life-Saving Service were on the team that helped Orville and Wilbur Wright move their Wright Flyer to the top of Kill Devil Hill during each of their historic flights in 1903. They couldn’t have known the extent to which their group would be involved in important aviation efforts in the future.

Cementing their reputation as training some of the finest pilots and sailors was the famous rescue on New Year’s Day, 1933. Lieutenant Commander Carl Christian von Paulsen, head of the Miami base, received notice that a severe storm near Cape Canaveral had caught a boy in its clutches and swept him and his skiff out to sea. Paulsen gathered his crew and took off in the amphibious aircraft named Arcturus to save the boy.

Even with strong headwinds, heavy rain affecting visibility, and twelve to fifteen-foot swells, Paulsen and his crew found the boy over thirty miles from shore. As they landed on the tumultuous waters the Arcturus’ wings sustained damage, rendering the aircraft un-flyable, but they pulled the boy aboard to safety. Lt. Cmdr. von Paulsen taxied through the raging ocean with amazing skill and determination. What was left of the wings ripped away from the aircraft, leaving only the boat-like fuselage when they beached. All survived, and the dramatic heroism set the course for the future of the Coast Guard, and the critical role of aviation in search and rescue missions. Lt. Cmdr. von Paulsen received the Gold Life-Saving Medal.

My cousin, retired USN Rear Admiral Jack Trum, graduated from Annapolis in 1940, survived World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, while serving thirty-two years in the Navy. He held people like Lt. Cmdr. von Paulsen in the highest regard, proclaiming, “The Coast Guard, now those are the real sailors. When everyone else is heading to port, they are putting out to sea. They save people’s lives.”

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 5, 2017 Get it Write

The Liberty Gazette
September 5, 2017
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: When advising writers, Mike’s favorite topic is how badly Hollywood gets things wrong when portraying anything aviation. There’s no shortage of examples.

Mike: When it comes to credible airplane scenes, one of the most egregious transgressions is Die Hard 2. The fails in that movie are many, like when one of the bad guys takes over air traffic control. We’re supposed to believe that by refusing to clear them to land he can hold planes hostage in the air until they run out of fuel. That’s ridiculous. In reality they would fly to another airport.

Linda: In preparation for a presentation to writers on writing believable aviation scenes, we welcomed questions in advance. One of our guest writers was concerned about the plausibility of aviation scenes in her story. She had some interesting questions, some fueled by incidents that happened earlier this year. That is, can airlines remove a passenger due to overbooking?

Yes, and here’s why. As an airline customer, you are only buying a journey from here to there. Not a seat, not a flight. Carriers spell this out in the contract of carriage to which you are bound when you buy your ticket.

Most airlines overbook by five to fifteen percent, depending on several factors which are decided upon with very serious statistical analysis to serve the profit goals.

This, of course, begs the follow-on question, what rights do bumped passengers have? In a word, compensation.

The more complete answer is if an airline overbooks, they must first ask for volunteers to give up seats before yanking paying passengers off the plane. If they don’t get enough volunteers, they will offer money or free tickets. If they reach the maximum they’re willing to tender and there still aren’t enough volunteers, they can remove people from the flight.

Here’s what you’ll want to know if this happens to you. They’ll have to provide a written statement of why you were bumped. They must also re-book you, and if you will be significantly delayed, you’re entitled to payment up to $1,350. You don’t have to accept a voucher. They must cut you a check if you request it.

These rights won’t apply if you relinquish your seat voluntarily. They also aren’t valid unless the removal is due to overbooking. Any other reason, such as a change in planes, problems with weight and balance calculations to ensure a safe flight, or a delayed or cancelled flight, does not come with promises or reimbursements.

If you’d like to know more about your rights as an airline passenger you can go to
https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/flights-and-rights.

Mike: One more thing. If you buy a business class ticket you will not be removed due to overbooking. You might not get to sit in business class, but you’ll get a seat. The ticket price buys this benefit, and you don’t have to be a celebrity to receive this special treatment. But you might not want to watch Die Hard 2 on your flight.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com