03-19th thru 21st - How to mix work and play...

 

We arrived on Friday evening to stay the weekend and get an early start on Saturday.  Walt L. and I drove into Greenville to rent the small back hoe which SHOULD have been repaired by now (according to store personnel).  Unfortunately, plans and procedures don’t always match and we were, once again, stymied in our attempts to enlarge the rest of the entrance.  We resigned ourselves to just telling everyone driving in to enter the property from the south.

 

We never seem to be able to do what jobs we planned, so we went ahead with Plan B - doing whatever else we could.  I loaded up the fuel tanks onto the back of my truck and headed into Quinlan to get diesel and gas.  While I was there, Rachael called and excitedly told me that a Stearman was buzzing the field.  Unbeknownst to her, I already knew that it was on the way.  I’d got a text from Alan G. (a friend and our resident karaoke crooner) that he might be showing up.

 

When I got back, a beautiful yellow and blue Stearman was sitting on our ramp.  Alan and Wally (the owner of that beautiful plane) were getting out for a visit.

 

After showing them around the place, I took them back to their plane.  Rachael was literally drooling over the plane.   The only biplane that she’d ever flown in was my nimble little Starduster Too.  I imposed upon Wally and asked if he’d mind taking her for a ride.  I think that Rachael was already halfway into the seat before he’d gotten all of “Sure” out of his mouth.

 

He fastened her into the plane and off they went for a 15 minute flight around the area.  Thanks SOOO MUCH, Wally, for giving my wife the opportunity to see what another form of biplane flying is all about.

After Wally and Alan had left, I got started on a project that was really needing to be done.  I hopped on MoFo and we started getting rid of the last big pile of debris and junk that was left on the land.  We’d piled up the junk in one spot last August and had covered it with a tarp so we wouldn’t have to see it.

 

Rachael and her sister, Carol, worked on picking up all of the junk that they could find and throwing it into the trash bins while I used the bucket on MoFo to pick up loads of dirt.  We’d pull all of the trash out of the dirt before I’d take it to the back of the property and store it there for later use.

 

Later on that day, we got another visitor.  Frank N. is a Natl. Guard C130 pilot who was travelling from his home in Maryland down to San Antonio to get trained on the C5 (look it up - it’s a BIG airplane).  He is also an avid powered parachute pilot and was pulling his plane behind his car.  He called ahead and asked if he could leave his machine parked at our airport overnight and I was happy to oblige.  He left his machine and went to check into a hotel.

 

Walt and I drove back over to Rockwall and picked up Rachael’s 172RG and my Phantom Ultralight.  When Frank came back that evening, along with another buddy, we pulled out the powered parachutes and went flying in some great evening conditions.  Walt L., who doesn’t care to fly in them, followed along in my Phantom ultralight plane.  We all had a great evening of flying and got some more good photos of the airport.

We all met again early on Sunday morning and flew for another 45 minutes before it got too windy for PPC’s.  Frank loaded up his machine and headed out for his final destination in San Antonio.  Mike M., who’d flown with us, headed back home and we went back to work.  By early afternoon, we’d FINALLY cleaned up the last major pile of dirt and debris that was cluttering up the place.

We still had quite a bit of time left, so we decided to build something that I hadn’t really planned on doing for a while.  We had two old telephone poles that had been left on the property.  One was pretty rotted around the top, but was still basically usable.  Walt L. and I drilled holes in the ground and we set the phone poles.  Next week, we’ll run power out to them and install some halogen lights to light up the “party area”.

 

Rachael and I stayed over until Monday and did a little bit more cleaning around the land.  I finished my flooring project between the two containers, so all we have left to do is replace the tarp that was torn off.  Walt had rebuilt the frame before we arrived for the weekend, so it’s ready to finish up (again).

03-23th thru 31st - Final Preparations for the fly-in.

 

Although I planned to work in the office for the rest of this week and then take the next week off to prepare, the call of T14 proved to be a bit too much.  One of the things that we had wanted to do, but were stymied, was to enlarge the entrance.  When I went to the local U-Rent-It to make arrangements for some port-a-potties, I noticed that they also had a small track hoe available.  Perfect!  We’d get that entrance finished.  I called Walt L. and he hooked up the trailer, bought a culvert, rented the track hoe and, by the time that I made it there that afternoon, had already dug out the ditch and set the culvert.  That’s one working man and I’m blessed to have him as a friend to help.  Things wouldn’t be ANYWHERE near as complete if I didn’t have him around, because I’m terrible on heavy equipment.  My mind is fine-tuned for data processing and business - certainly NOT for running machinery.

 

After we finished setting the culvert, I hopped on MoFo and brought over some loads of rock and crushed asphalt to the newly enlarged entrance.  While I brought over the materials, Walt hopped on Godzilla and worked it into place.  We’d finally enlarged our driveway!

 

After we finished the entrance, we immediately took the track hoe over to the front of the storage containers and started digging another trench.  When we pushed the road past the containers, we also created a dam that created a small lake under the tractors whenever it rained, so we put in a drain under the road that would drain the water off to the other side and into the field.

 

Now, all we have to do is wait for it to rain and see how well our drainage project works!

After we finished with the culvert project, we called it a day and went home for the evening.  The next morning, Walt returned the track hoe and picked up a trencher in its place.  By the time I finished in the office, he’d dug two trenches from the shed out to each light pole that we’d set the previous work weekend.

 

With the help of a new friend who came up from his place in Gun Barrel City, we installed lighting and power out to each pole.

 

It took us two days to work out the lighting situation but, by the end of the day on Saturday, March 26th, we had the whole place lit up for the first time.  It was a beautiful sight and we were very happy with our efforts.  The place was shaping up!

On Sunday morning, I was left to myself for most of the day.  Rachael’s sister, Carole, was running in a 1/2 marathon in downtown Dallas.  She left early in the morning. Walt and Rachael went with her to provide support and I went to work on another project that I wanted to have done in time for the fly-in.

 

One of the things that I really wanted to do was to replace the temporary fence that separated the south parking area from the runway.  For our Middle Finger Fly-In, Walt and I had simply set t-posts and then had strung some bright orange temporary construction fence between them.  While it was a workable solution and was VERY visible, it didn’t last through the winter very well - and it certainly wouldn’t stop anyone from driving through it onto the runway if they cared to do so.

 

During one of our trips to town, we’d bought enough lumber to build something more permanent.  I wanted a low fence that would not be a deterrent to an aircraft that was in the landing flare, yet would provide a more substantial and longer lasting solution.

 

I’d bought enough 8 foot construction posts and 2x4’s to do what I wanted.  First, I cut each of the 8’ posts in half.  Then I dug a hole with a post hole digger (yes - by hand!) and set each post 2’ deep.  That left 2’ standing and would make a very nice low fence.

 

We had been looking at the weather reports for the previous week and were sweating reports that would alternate between good weather for the next weekend and forecasts for isolated thunderstorms.  In fact, some inclement weather was predicted for that day.  When the clouds started to drop a fine misting rain, however, I was happy for it.  It made the hot task a lot more comfortable for me.

 

By the time that Walt, Carole and Rachael made it back that afternoon, I’d dug and set all of the posts.  I’d also set the rail across the top of the posts for the larger portion of the fence.  Walt came up and I decided to run a second rail across the middle (instead of just having a rail across the top).  While he ran into town for some more 2x4’s, I finished digging and setting the rest of the posts into the ground.

 

When he came back, we added a generator and air compressor to the trailer and made quick work of nailing everything down with my new nail gun.

That afternoon, we got a visitor of a new sort.  We were hooking up the brush hogs to mow the property when a trike came flying overhead.  I grabbed a radio and invited him to come in for a visit.

 

He made a low pass and then came in for a nice landing in the 5mph wind.  We all chatted while Rachael ooohed and awwwed over his very nice trike.

 

After he left, we went back to mowing.  Carole hopped on MoFo and started taking the big tractor up and down the sides of the runway while we continued cleaning up and getting more preparations done.

On Monday, I got a call from a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while.  I hadn’t seen Ricky Quick in a while until we both attended the funeral of a good friend who was killed in a tragic accident a few weeks prior.  Thankfully, time doesn’t dim the bonds of true friendship, however.  Rick has his own business, but he took the next three days off to come over with one of his work crews.  He set to work on the property doing all of the landscaping that I had not had the time to do.

 

Jose’ went to work with a weed eater while Rick and Bert started cleaning up the trees.   Rick had brought over his tractor, which also had a loader on the front end.  There was a big hydraulic farm disc implement that was left on the property that was rusted and useless to us.  We had tried to use it once, but the overall effect was minimal.  Unfortunately, it was VERY heavy - well over 1000 lbs. - and the loader on MoFo wasn’t up to the task of lifting it alone.  With the help of Rick and his tractor, all of us were able to wrestle it onto his flatbed trailer.  We added some more scrap metal that was lying around and then sent Bert and Jose’ over to the local scrap yard.  When they got back, I was amazed that the big disc had weighed almost 3,000 lbs (according to the receipt).  With the rest of the scrap, they traded in 3,600 lbs. of scrap and I was able to get rid of one of the last big eyesores left on the airport property.

 

Rick and his crew came back the next day and continued cleaning up the land while was stuck in the office.  They even worked through more rain on Tuesday while I was stuck in my office and business obligations.  When I was able to get back out on Wednesday morning, I was amazed and shocked at what they’d done.  Every tree had been landscaped and the glade of trees had been cleaned up in a way that I never even imagined.  The whole property looked like a park!  All of the underbrush was gone and the rest of the scrap that we hadn’t got to was picked up.  Rick had even taken a pile of sandstone that was littering the west side of the glade and had built a fire pit in the center.  I didn’t even have words to thank them for their hard work.

We spent the rest of the day on Wednesday getting final preparations done.  With the help of Rick and his crew, we put up the other tent and got the canopies attached.  At that point, we were ready for the weekend!

 

Arrivals started coming in on Thursday morning.  By the end of the day, we had four RVs parked and ready to fly.  These were my PPC friends and they were all very welcome.  Thursday night was calm and clear.  We had a great time flying around the area in the “pre-flyin” phase.

We’d spent a lot of time getting everything ready.  The port-o-potties were in place and the bounce houses had been unfolded and attached to their blowers.  A horseshoe pit had been built and the briskets were cooking in the smokers.  It was time for a fly-in!  Mother Nature didn’t pull an April Fools joke on us and the weather was looking wonderful for the weekend.

 

Time for a party!