formerly "The View From Up Here"

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

To get your copy of "Ely Air Lines: Select Stories from 10 Years of a Weekly Column" volumes 1 and 2, visit our website at https://www.paperairplanepublishing.com/ely-air-lines/

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September 27, 2022 Gotta Love That Pilot Bob

The Liberty Gazette
September 27, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: Many celebrities have learned to fly while preparing for roles or in support of their careers in entertainment. For some, aviation was their first love. Such was the case of actor Blade Stanhope Conway, who later went by Bryce Hutchens and then used his real name, Bob Cummings. He made 68 movies, starring in many of them, four stage productions, and 21 television appearances, including his own show from 1955–1959 named, appropriately, “The Bob Cummings Show.” It was later syndicated as “Love That Bob.”

Born Clarence Robert Orville Cummings in Joplin, Missouri, on June 9, 1910, Bob’s flight instructor was also his godfather, Orville Wright. Bob learned to fly in high school, making his first solo flight on March 3, 1927. He often gave airplane rides for $5 to his classmates and residents of Joplin. He also taught others to fly. At that time, there was not a separate certificate for flight instructors, so any commercial pilot could give flying lessons. Imagine being taught to fly by someone who learned from Orville Wright and had his signature on their pilot certificate! When the FAA finally got around to issuing separate flight instructor certificates, Bob Cummings received instructor certificate #1. 

Bob studied aeronautical engineering but had to drop out of college when Wall Street crashed in 1929. While in college, he acted in some stage productions and was bitten by the acting bug. He studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which paid male actors $14 a week (yes, they paid them to study acting – supply and demand).

After completing his training, he looked for work as an actor. He learned that three-quarters of the Broadway plays were English productions, so he cashed in a life insurance policy, bought a round-trip ticket to Britain, and explored the country by motorcycle. He worked on his English accent and invented the name Blade Stanhope Conway. Then he bribed a janitor at an English theater to post that name on the marquee and had his picture taken standing next to it. After sending out eighty of these pictures to agents in New York, he found he was in demand when he returned. He did something similar later, inventing the name Bryce Hutchens, who hailed from Texas. He became so good with different accents, it was almost a trademark. 

Flying, however, was always part of his life. When WWII broke out, Cummings started the first Civil Air Patrol squadron in California, at Glendale’s Grand Central Air Terminal. When that airport closed, the squadron moved to Whiteman Airpark just north of Burbank and still exists. For his CAP duties, he used his own airplane. In 1942, he joined the US Army Air Corps and became a military pilot instructor. 

Cummings owned several airplanes, all named Spinach – Spinach I, Spinach II, etc. That’s because he was also a health-food nut. He even wrote a book about it, called, “Stay Young and Vital.” You gotta love that Bob! 

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 20, 2022 Going Dutch

The Liberty Gazette
September 20, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: So there was one more thing about our short trip to Holland, Michigan. The quaint little downtown. Typically when traveling, besides airports, we look for good restaurants and coffee shops, art galleries, bookstores, and anything unique to the area. If we’re in town long enough, we’ll look for theater (stage) or musical performances to our taste. This was a quicker trip though, so there was only time to spend a day browsing the historic downtown streets and visit some of the shops. Despite the fact that we did not come during tulip blooming season, Holland did not disappoint.

All along 8th and 9th streets are over a hundred clean and neatly-kept businesses. At Readers’ World bookstore, the multi-tiered shelves were packed with fiction and nonfiction and children’s books. We could spend hours there. 

Lovely oil paintings by local artists hung at Lake Effect art gallery. I saw one that would be perfect on one of our living room walls. 

At Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars we cruised around the store and sampled from the plethora of flavored products. They have so many different choices, you could make 800 different pairings of oil and vinegar. We took home bottles of Michigan Apple, Blueberry, Fig, and Maple balsamic vinegars and olive oils infused with walnut and basil (not together, that’s two separate bottles). We packed up extras for our family visits the following week. By the way, “fustino” is Italian for “drums,” and refers to the steel containers used to store olive oils and balsamic vinegars. After traveling through Europe, the founder, Jim Milligan, decided that would be the perfect name for the shop he envisioned, just like the ones he visited across the pond. Fustini’s offers pairing suggestions and even has four cookbooks and all manner of fantastic, must-have accessories, such as tapas plates, grater dipping plates, and charcuterie boards. And yes, you can even buy fustini from them for your own stash.

And then there was the Holland Clock Company. They sell Black Forest cuckoo clocks imported from Germany. They also sell beer steins and nutcrackers, but the cuckoo clocks got all my attention. They looked just like the ones we saw in Austria and Germany–beautiful, intricately carved works of art and storytelling. 

And what would Holland be without a windmill? Back in 1964, the city acquired De Zwaan, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the U.S. It’s 251 years old and still turns and grinds wheat. You can see it at the municipal park, Windmill Island Gardens. Here’s a little trivia for you: before opening De Zwaan to the public, they sent for an expert from the Netherlands to refurbish it, and that fellow made a quick trip to New York City to be a guest on “What’s My Line,” the game show where a celebrity panel had to guess the unusual jobs that guests performed.

If you’ve never been to Holland, Michigan, put it on your list. It’s well worth the trip.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

September 13, 2022 One More Thing

The Liberty Gazette
September 13, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: One more thing about Holland, Michigan. After the sunrise beach stroll, we figured we’d check out Big Red, the most photographed lighthouse in the state, then visit an airport that is shown on the FAA charts as closed, then do some gift shopping in the quaint town. The lighthouse, it turns out, is surrounded by private property and not accessible to the public. No problem. We’ve seen lots of lighthouses, like President Trump’s Turnberry Lighthouse in Ayr, Scotland (birthplace of Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s greatest king), which is open to the public. So seeing Big Red from afar was fine. That gave us more time for other things, like the former military training airfield along Ottawa Beach Road, Park Township Airport. It’s one of the oldest airports and the first to employ a woman-owned and managed Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in the Great Lakes state.

Park Township Airport began in 1937 as a private airfield managed by aviatrix Peg Malone. It was an airmail stop, and Peg had plans to offer regular passenger airline service between Milwaukee and New York, with stops at Holland, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Syracuse. However, effects of the Great Depression prevented that. 
Then, in 1939, the airfield was used to train more than 100 military pilots through a program with Hope College, and as a helicopter training ground as well. The runway is gone, but we traipsed all over the ramp taking pictures and poked around in the historic hangar, where Civil Air Patrol cadet squadron MI-135 still meets. The last chapter of the airport’s long and distinguished history was written two years ago, after a newer, bigger airport, Western Michigan Regional, had been serving the customers with more and better amenities. 

We had survived the entire sunrise beach walk and paid our respects to a piece of aviation history, all without coffee. It was time to bean-up. I pulled out my phone to start searching when suddenly, there we were, in front of KIN Coffee and Craft House, just down the street from the airport. It’s owned by a family with a small farm. Their story goes that they had seven sheep, and cousins Lynn and Jamie were visiting over a very large ball of wool from the farm (which wasn’t yet yarn, but they were working on that). After brainstorming about their shared interests and dreams, they made plans to convert an old Dutch barn into a gorgeous coffee shop. It’s a cozy place with books, crafts, and tasteful d├ęcor. I had an oat milk cappuccino and Mike had black coffee. We picked a table, one of the ones that snuggles up to a long, old wooden church pew bench on the wall-side. We gave our thanks and shared a perfect blueberry muffin, bursting with juicy berries. 

I know I said at the start of this, “One more thing about Holland,” but I didn’t realize I’d get to the end so quickly. So next week, we’ll have one more thing. Promise.


ElyAirLines.blogspot.com



September 6, 2022 Zipping to the Mitten

The Liberty Gazette
September 6, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: A quick trip to the Great Lakes State gave us an opportunity to see the cemetery where Mike’s paternal grandparents are buried. He hadn’t been there in over 30 years, and fortunately, it’s a relatively small place. Although the section and lot numbers aren’t marked, we had no trouble locating the general area. Once in the vicinity, we saw the “Ely” monument standing proud, an American flag at the grave of Grandfather, Lewis Ely. Those interested in family history will appreciate the convenience of landing at a nearby airport and using the courtesy car to see these special patches of land. Within them are remains, but from them are memories, stories, life. 

Mike: My grandfather was a US Marine and fought in France during the Great War, a period he rarely spoke of until near the end of his life. He told us of the time he and another Marine were crossing a field while scouting when a German machine-gun opened fire. Their only cover was a pile of manure, into which they dove. The Germans kept them pinned, clipping the top of the pile until after dark, when they were able to sneak away. The story was ripe for jokes later.

Linda: We value the ability to zip around the continent in our Cheetah, land at small town airports, and visit more people and places in a day than we could do by car in a week. Thanks to a decent tailwind, we landed in Charlotte, Michigan just six hours after departing Baytown. After visiting the cemetery, we took to the skies again to visit my Scottish side of the family on their 10-acre slice of heaven they’ve dubbed “Rosebriar,” in Howell. We shared a night out on the town, and in the morning, fed the chickens and took a walk in the woods, where we spotted interesting plant life, including herbs, flowers, and mushrooms. Cousin Kevin explained that the state is the shape of a mitten and showed us how one’s palm can serve as a map. He and his wife live around that muscly part below the base of the thumb. We hopped all around the hand.

Mike:
One of my old co-pilots retired to an airpark in Lake City, a short jaunt further north, so we met for lunch after a restful night at Rosebriar. Catching up is more fun to do in person than by email or phone. It also allows us to recreate old photos, like the one where we stood side-by-side, tilting our heads toward each other, representative of Learjet pilots (who fly in a small cockpit).

We looked forward to a couple of days in Holland, on the western shore of the Mitten State, at about the base of my pinkie finger. Linda woke me early for a sunrise beach stroll barefoot along Lake Michigan, shared only with birds, waves splashing, and the occasional blip from the beacon of a lighthouse or a boat disappearing over the distant horizon. 

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com





August 30, 2022 The Pilot House

The Liberty Gazette
August 30, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

A few weeks ago, we discovered the Pilot House, a small hotel within walking distance of the airport on the island of Grosse Ile, Michigan. We were so enthralled by what we had read that we decided to fly upfor a visit. Our expectations were high, based on what we had learned, and we can now report that Grosse Ile is all we had hoped for and more. 

Ownership of the Pilot House is now in its second generation. Jim Cortis grew up on the island where his father, Artie, owned a print shop. He had relocated his shop to what is now the Pilot House, which had originally been barracks for employees of aircraft manufacturer Curtiss-Wright. During World War II, the Navy took over the airport, built up the runways, made it a Naval Air Station, and turned the barracks into an officers’ club. When the war was over, an entrepreneur leased the building and rented space to small businesses. One of his tenants was Artie Cortis.

According to Jim, that landlord disappeared one day in 1981, owing something like $10,000 in taxes. All the tenants were locked out with no access to their businesses. Besides Artie’s print shop, there was a trucking company, an embroidery shop, and a sporting goods mail order business. There may have been a lawyer too, but Jim doesn’t recall for sure, which is understandable. I’d want to forget that too. In order to access his business, Artie paid the debt and took over management of the building. After renting the space for weddings and other special events, he realized he needed to offer a better option than the bathroom for the brides to get dressed. That’s when he converted his first room, which turned out to be the start of his hotel business. 

Jim helped his father for many years, and after he passed, Jim took over the family business. His dedication to the hotel is evident in its fourteen impeccable rooms. The cleanliness is, honestly, at a higher standard than the major chain we stayed in the night before. While the layout of the hotel is basically unchanged, he brought the interior up to date, yet without abandoning the charm of days past. 

Walking from the airplane, across the ramp, past the old Naval Air Station hangar, it wasn’t a long trek to the Pilot House. A spacious covered porch, painted white, welcomed us cozily, adorning the front of the two-story brick building. Chairs grouped around a table make a friendly statement. Through the wooden double doors, we entered the lobby with its glass cases of memorabilia. Jim met us, signed us in, and showed us to our accommodations, which included a bedroom, living room, and kitchen.

Fortunately, Jim’s son, whose degree is in business finance, wants to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and has big plans for the hotel. We found the Pilot House at Grosse Ile a comfortable and friendly place to stay for our Michigan adventures. 

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 23, 2022 Pioneers of the Landscape

The Liberty Gazette
August 23, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

A native of Kansas, a state which produced many of our earliest aviators, Royal Vearl Thomas was the second child born to Frank and Lillie Thomas. We don’t know much about his childhood, but we can imagine, as we reflect on stories of other children of the same era who witnessed the birth of aviation, that he might have similarly been that boy who looked up to the sky as a barnstormer flew low over a wheat field and ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to see an airplane up close and the lucky person who had just landed it. He probably got one of those penny-a-pound rides in a biplane, and if he did, surely he was hooked right away. 

We do know that R.V., as he was called, was a Lieutenant in the armed forces during World War I. We also know that he and Giuseppe Bellanca built a monoplane they named “Reliance,” and in it, he set an endurance record in 1927 for flying solo for 35 hours, 25 minutes, and 8 seconds, at Mitchel Field in New York. 

Meanwhile, two brothers from Pittsburgh moved to Arizona seeking adventure in tourism, photography, and film, which were also new industries. Ellsworth and Emery Kolb set up a studio at the Bright Angel Trailhead on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and sold their nature photographs in albums and tickets to view their 1911 movie of floating down the Colorado River from Colorado to Mexico, through the Grand Canyon. It was the first motion picture of its kind.

And how these to stories come together is that one day, Ellsworth Kolb offered R.V. Thomas one hundred dollars if he could land in the Grand Canyon and allow Ellsworth to ride along and film it. As soon as the stunt was approved by the park manager, R.V. took a burro ride down to find a landing spot.

This month marks the 100th anniversary since R.V. made a studied and calculated, but daring, landing on a five-hundred-foot strip of level grass he found inside the Grand Canyon. To this day, he is the only person to do that in an airplane. 

It's an amazing story that caught a lot of attention. In his own “Thomas Special” biplane, R.V. battled the unique and unpredictable swirling air currents and put on a show the park guests would never forget. He climbed up above the canyon, then put his airplane in a stall and spun down fast, pulling out of the stall-spin in time to land it. He stopped within fifty feet of an 1,800-foot drop. Getting it out of there would be another feat of great skill and luck. 

There’s a digital copy of the news story on the National Park Service website, which is well worth your time. The author’s description of the event, the pioneering characters, and the scene are superb, still breathtaking even one hundred years later. Highly recommended reading.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 16, 2022 New Horizons

The Liberty Gazette
August 16, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

After becoming empty-nesters, William Bartz and his wife, Katie, of Mont Belvieu, looked forward to more freedom, especially travel. So, when William was laid off from his job in oil and gas, it seemed the perfect time to get serious about learning to fly. He wasted no time starting his journey to a new career as a professional pilot. Within two months, William earned his private pilot certificate, a major accomplishment. He has already taken the written exams for his instrument and instrument instructor ratings; he's on a fast-track at ATP flight school at Ellington, a great place to learn to fly with a variety of air traffic – military, corporate, occasional airline, students, and NASA. 

His schedule is intense, studying and flying seven days a week. It’s been a while since he was in school, so the challenge is exhilarating. He feels sharper, engaging his brain to such a degree. And William’s no slouch. With a mathematics degree and a background in finance and business development, he’s done a fair amount of learning. But this is new and different, and he’s giving it all he’s got. 

“There’s so much to learn about flying,” he says. “Like the illusions of night flying. They’re real! Learning to land at night is completely different. And weather. I look at the sky and find myself analyzing what’s happening in the atmosphere. I have names for what I see now that I hadn’t known before. And I was surprised to learn that even here in Southeast Texas, where it’s hot, there can be ice at higher altitudes.”

He’s fascinated by flight. Aeronautical engineering has captivated his sense of wonder. When he considers a certain part of an aircraft, such as the pitot tube, he wonders, how did someone think of that? Imagine inventing a way to detect air pressure and provide a read-out instrument, so a pilot knows the altitude of the aircraft. These are the kinds of things William contemplates with awe. 

All the firsts are amazing. “The first time I took off,” he adds, “my first landing, first solo, I thought, ‘I just did that! I can do this! Why not?’” He can see his skills improving, and it’s incredibly satisfying to grease a landing. Especially if it’s in a crosswind. And it has led to increased confidence. 

He’s looking forward to being in control of a large jet aircraft, to having a career that depends fully on his performance, and now he knows he can do it. His end goal is a career that will allow him and Katie to travel. While that may be an airline job, William is open to the options. Besides, he owes her a trip to Italy, after that snafu on their honeymoon when they landed in London, with his passport expiring in less than six months.

“But,” he laughs, “a more immediate goal these days is flying an airplane with air conditioning.”

Here’s to the exciting journey ahead, William. May your new horizons be full of blue skies.
 
ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 9, 2022 The Results Are In!

The Liberty Gazette
August 9, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Last month we spilled the beans about ordering coffee from four small businesses selling aviation-themed java, and we promised to let you know how it all poured out. Here it is. 

Mike: We’re not tasting experts, but it might be fair to call us coffee snobs. We also believe in supporting small businesses, which means our support excludes what one pundit described as “a ‘social justice’ company that just happens to sell overpriced, burnt coffee.”

All of the coffees that arrived on our doorstep provided a good experience. We may have our favorites, but taste is individual. The choice of fine, medium, or course grind, and the ratio of coffee to water, will also lie with the consumer, as will the brewing method (we medium-grind and use a drip coffee maker). Therefore, please take all variables into consideration.

From these four companies, we ordered seven different coffees on the internet on the same evening, July 5. The first to arrive was a bag of whole beans from Aviation Coffee, in Havana, Illinois. This was their Brazil Cerrado, which is a light roast. The beans released an inviting aroma when I ground them, and the coffee has a nice, stable flavor. A neat plus is that this company is owned by a husband and wife who are both pilots.

Linda: The next to arrive was “Blend 172, First Flight,” from JetFuel Coffee, in Orlando, Florida. They really delivered on their promise. This organic Arabica is sweet, spicy, and rich. Makes for a good morning pre-flight start. This one well suits my preference for an exciting light roast. 

Mike: The next one to find its way to us was the Lost Aviator. We ordered four different kinds, and we can confirm that we found great coffee. Their light roast, “Aurora,” has a rich, full flavor, and the aroma from grinding the beans is out of this world. Their Kenya single-origin medium roast, “Destinations,” and “Prohibition Roast,” a barrel-aged Brazilian dark roast, are so unique, it’s tough to decide which I like better.

Linda: Lost Aviator, from Guelph, Ontario also has a medium roast, “Constellation,” which fit into the category of a good classic taste. I, too, love “Destinations.” It’s low acidity and full-bodied, with notes of toasted nuts and plum. “Prohibition Roast,” with gifts of whiskey for both nose and palette, is like nothing I’ve had before.

The last to arrive came all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia. Threshold Coffee’s medium roast (no fancy name) is just as they advertise, a rich, classic taste and vibe. Plus, a portion of our purchase went to charity.

A word about customer experience: Ordering was quick and easy from all four companies. An extra boost goes to Threshold because the shipping company damaged the first package, and in rapid response, they rushed to roast a second bag for us and shipped it out pronto, with excellent communication. 

Conclusion: You can’t go wrong with any of these. Order at aviation-coffee.com, jetfuelcoffee.co, lostaviatorcoffee.com, and thresholdcoffee.co.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

August 2, 2022 A Runway Engraved

The Liberty Gazette
August 2, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: We were on approach to the Savanah/Hilton Head International Airport when my co-pilot commented that we might see a ghost. When I asked why, he replied that people were buried in the runway. What? After touchdown, we slowed to a crawl and two headstones on the north side of the runway came into view. I thought it was a joke, but the embedded graves are real. In fact, they are even included in professional aircraft simulator graphics.

Richard Dotson was born March of 1797. Catherine Smith was exactly five weeks older. The couple met, courted, and married in 1820. They bought farmland in what was then known as Cherokee Hills, in Chatham County, Georgia, and in 1833, their son Sampson was born. He blessed his parents with four grandchildren, who begat many more generations. It seems that sense of honor and respect for their ancestors was instilled throughout the family tree. Catherine passed away in 1877, and Richard joined her seven years later. They were buried side-by-side in the family cemetery on their farm they toiled over and loved.

In the Golden Age of Aviation, Chatham Field airport was built on the neighboring land. And 58 years after Richard had passed, when our country was steeped in World War II, the federal government included Chatham Field in their expansion plans. By this time, the city of Savannah owned the property 
and leased 1,100 acres to the Army for a command base for training the heavy bombardment combat crew of the Army Air Corp’s second bomb wing. The land lease included the Dotson family cemetery. 

Now this kind of development is not unusual, and in most cases, the party doing the building pays to have remains moved to another cemetery. The only requirement is the approval of the next of kin. That’s what stopped the feds right in their tracks. The descendants agreed to moving the bodies of family, enslaved people, and employees from approximately 100 graves to the Bonaventure cemetery in Savannah. But there were four family members whose relocation they denied: Richard and Catherine, and two others, John Dotson and Daniel Hueston, who they knew would wish to rest forever on the land they worked. But we have to wonder just how restful a place it is these days.

When the Army Air Corps was ready to pour the concrete for the 9,351-foot runway, they had no choice but to place it over the Dotsons. B-24 “Liberators” and B-17 “Flying Fortresses” would be landing and taking off here in defense of freedom. 

Today, at the approach end of runway 10 at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, formerly Chatham Field, are two grave markers: “Catherine Smith Dotson, born February 14, 1797, died November 23, 1877, age 80. Gone home to rest.” And “Richard Dotson, born March 21, 1797, died March 29, 1884, age 87. At rest.” John and Daniel are buried just off the runway. Family members can visit the graves but can’t leave any flowers.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com

July 26, 2022 Cool Places

The Liberty Gazette
July 26, 2022
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Historic vacation spots are cool. Here’s one for fellow history lovers and aviation kindred spirits: The Grosse Ile Pilot House in Grosse Ile, Michigan (“Big Island,” named by creative French explorers in 1679). The Pilot House, now a hotel, was formerly the mess hall and dormitory for the U.S. Navy Reserves, which moved to the island in 1929, during the Golden Age of Aviation. 

Also at the Grosse Ile Air Field was the Aircraft Development Corporation, building an all-metal blimp, the ZMC-2. The Navy flew it for ten years before retiring it. And, the renowned aviation company, Curtiss-Wright, built gliders there and introduced them into the Navy’s training program at Grosse Ile. Life was so good that the Marines couldn’t let this place pass them up, so they brought a couple of units to the aviation base. 

Sadly, as we all know (and are marching toward a repeat), heading into the 1930’s, bad times were dumped on the citizenry of America the Beautiful. We all know who did this, and it’s the same worthless group inflicting harm today. They put the Curtiss-Wright facility out of business, which made the property ripe for takeover by the federal government. Nothing good about that, except that the Navy then built new runways and taxiways (which surely private enterprise could have and would have done eventually, had they not been sacked).

The airport emerged as a primary flight training base, where many Naval Aviators learned to fly before moving to Pensacola for advanced training. By the time we were nearing our involvement in the Second World War, 2,900 pilots had been accepted into the ramped-up training program in its first three months. Cadets came over from Great Britain, too, making Grosse Ile the leading training center, and by 1944, this place housed over 800 cadets from here and abroad, all learning to fly and to defend freedom in America and the world.

By VJ Day, however, when many training bases became ghost towns, the Navy implemented a postwar program at Grosse Ile, which kept the base going until 1969. That’s when the feds decided not to maintain military aviation training (peace out, man), and Grosse Ile Township took over and turned it into a civilian airport. Today, the airport beckons travelers to land on the little island that sits at the confluence of the Detroit River and Lake Erie.

Today, you can stay in the old Curtiss-Wright barracks. It was first renovated as the Pilot House in 1981, welcoming pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and others. They also host special events, such as weddings and banquets, on the upper floor, and you can see the original dance floor and two original fireplaces in the section that was the Officers’ Club.

If you hadn’t thought of a reason to visit Michigan, perhaps that will give you some incentive. It’s a cool place for your escape from this smothering heat and humidity. We hear the highs in Grosse Ile this week are in the low 80’s.

ElyAirLines.blogspot.com