Text Box: June, 2011 - Still having to be busy!

We had spent a whole year working on the airport.  Our major restoration work is pretty much finished at this part and maintenance takes a bigger role.  Because we didn’t have to do so much, we took a little more time to enjoy the airport.  Some weekends, we just went there and enjoyed our airport.  We’ll start building a permanent home on it soon enough, but there is no set “schedule” for doing that - it’s a “we’ll get to it when we get to it” mentality.  Until then, we’re just basically enjoying the place.

On June 2nd, I had a loooong day of flying.  I flew up to Fort Scott, Kansas, picked up the sheriff and police chief and then flew them all the way to Clovis, New Mexico for a visit with one of my clients on the Texas border there.  After that, I flew them back to Kansas and then on home.  It was one of those 1400 mile days (a long day for a general aviation airplane).  As I left Fort Scott and turned south, I noticed that Joplin, MO was just 20 miles out of my path.  They had recently suffered through a devastating tornado that had done millions of dollars in damage and had killed a large number of people.

I deviated a little to the east and made one pass over the town.  The destruction was incredible.  My heart and prayers go out to the people of Joplin.  I’ve been there before.  It was always a pretty little town.  It will take a long time to recover from this type of devastation.  Here are a few pics of what I saw as I flew over the tornado path.  I didn’t dawdle - I just flew from north to south and then continued on towards home.

The rest of June, 2011

 

The second week of June was one of relaxation for us.  We headed over to a fly-in in Vidalia, Louisiana.  The Redneck Fly-In is a well-attended powered parachute and general aviation fly-in.  I had flown there in the Starduster in 2010, but this year was a bit different.  I had loaded up the karaoke system in the truck and didn’t want to make Rachael drive by herself again, so we caravanned with another friend and made the six hour drive down to the Louisiana/Mississippi border.

 

It was a GREAT fly-in - for many reasons.  First, we were able to see a lot of our friends that we haven’t seen in a while (since we spent most of last year working on our airport).  Second, we stayed at a nice hotel that sat on a bank on the east side of the Mississippi River.  The river was still swollen to flood stage and, for a while, we were a bit worried that the levee’ would break and inundate the town of Vidalia, La.  If the levee’ had broken, the Vidalia airport would have been under at least 18 feet of water.  Thankfully, all of the earthen dykes held and we were treated to views of a VERY full Mississippi River.

 

Since the river was full, that meant that the tributaries were also at flood stage.  That meant that the alligators that lived in the area would be a lot easier to spot because they would move out of the fast moving waters to the more calm backwaters.  We saw a lot of alligators.  This was the first time that Rachael had seen wild gator.

 

One of the *best* parts of the trip, however, came when Rachael went walking around the hangars one day.  She came running up to me and excitedly asked me to come with her.  We walked around the back of a hangar to find that the airport had recently replaced all of their lights - and all of the old lights were just sitting around in the back of the hangar!!!

 

Now, I’m very proud of our solar-powered runway lighting system, but it still leaves a little bit to be desired.  Although I have no problems landing there at night and it’s absolutely no problems to depart after the sun has set, the runway is very difficult to find at night.  I talked with Carl, the airport manager about the lights.  He was happy to “sell” them to us for a small donation to the airport fund.  We will go back later and pick them up.  More things to build!!!

 

Here are a couple pics of the flooded Mississippi River around Vidalia, Louisiana along with a couple pics of indigenous life forms that habitate in the area.

The rest of June started a big spat of hot, dry weather.  In fact, 100+ degree days became the norm.  It was too hot to do much work out at the airport.  There wasn’t any rain, so the grass isn’t growing much.  In fact, the carpet of green that I had become quite proud of was quickly turning brown.  There wasn’t much that we could do at this time except to watch it wither and die.  We went out once or twice, but didn’t spend much of the rest of the month at T14.  I used the time to get my business obligations met.

Text Box: July at Taylor - IT BE HOT!!!

This section is red in honor of the balmy Texas weather that was July, 2011.  IT WAS HOTTER’N HECK!!!  I don’t believe that there was a single day that had a daytime high of lower than 100 degrees farenheit.  If there was any rain, it was so insignificant that I don’t remember it.  It was a good thing that we had family and business obligations for most of the month, because I would have died working out in this heat (I’m getting wussy in my old age).

4th of July weekend was spent at our “main” house with family.  It was my step-son’s birthday and we had a big party out at our place.  On the evening of the 4th, we drove up to the Rockwall airport (where we still keep our airplanes) and watched the city’s fireworks display from the side of the runway.

The next week, I had a business trip up to Norfolk, VA.  I flew my Comanche out east to Jamestown, VA, stayed overnight and had my meeting the next day.  Weather moved in and a heavy line of thunderstorms kept me there until the weekend.

The next weekend, Rachael and I took some time off to enjoy a relaxing weekend with friends.  On the weekend of the 30th/31st, we were in San Antonio, Texas for the wedding of Rachael’s brother.

Although we didn’t stay out at Taylor, we still made use of it.  This year, we wanted to be at Oshkosh for the full run of the annual EAA Airventure gathering.  Before we headed south for San Antonio, we loaded our camping gear and carried it out to Taylor.  That way, we could just get up early on Sunday morning, fly to Taylor, take a quick shower, exchange our wedding clothes for camping gear and then head out for Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The plan worked without a hitch - almost…

We didn’t get out as early on Sunday morning as we’d planned.  As we were landing at Taylor, I heard another airplane call out to us.  A plane full of friends from Rockwall just happened to be flying overhead while we were landing.  They landed after us and hopped out to see what we’d done with the place.  While Rachael was getting ready, I showed them around (ya gotta be neighborly, right?).  Once they left, I loaded all of our camping gear into the back of the Comanche and we made the quick 7 mile hop over Majors for fuel.  We were hot, hungry and tired, so we grabbed the courtesy car and hopped into town for a decent lunch.  When we got back, it was 2pm before we departed for Oshkosh.

We got to our refueling stop in Monroe, City, MO. And stopped to visit with the friendly folk there.  Monroe City is our “every year” fuel stop on the way back from Oshkosh.  This year, we stopped there on the way up.  They have the cheapest fuel in the state and a bunch of friendly people.  The fbo manager takes your photo if you’re going to or coming from Oshkosh.  Three years ago, we started the tradition of leaving our Oshkosh wristbands with them for their scrapbook.  They’re all there - inserted in the page for Rachael and Walt Meziere and whatever airplane we happen to be flying that year.

We didn’t take long to visit on the way up.  It was well after 5pm when we landed and we still had a little over 2 hours of flying left to go.  If you’ve never been to EAA Airventure let me clue you in on something - they close the airport PROMPTLY at 8pm.  If you’re not on the ground by 8pm, you’re waved off and you have to find other accommodations.

It was close.  It was 14 minutes til 8 when we flew across Ripon and headed up the railroad tracks on the Fiske arrival.  Thankfully, there were no other airplanes ahead of us.  This was a good thing - because I flew from Ripon to Fiske at 150+kts. groundspeed.  The Comanche was as full power the whole way as we were running hard to make it before Whitman field closed for the night.  I never got above 5,500 ft. msl so that the O-540 in my Comanche could make best power (we had significant headwinds up higher anyway).

As I turned over Fiske to head for a base for Runway 36L, I pulled the power, dirtied up the airplane and threw down the landing gear when I was slow enough.  I popped it down on the blue dot and we were safe on the ground at 5 minutes til 8!!!

There were three other airplanes that landed behind me before I heard one pilot complaining that he was “almost there” when the controller told him that the airport was closed.  I don’t know what became of him because we made it to our final camping spot and turned off the radio.

It was a great Oshkosh adventure!  We didn’t go home until the next Sunday, so that took care of the rest of July.  The temperatures in Wisconsin were positively balmy as I saw weather reports of 107 degrees back in Texas.