October 1st thru 3rd
The First Annual Middle Finger Fly-In!
The first weekend in October was scheduled to be our first “official” public fly-in. I put out the information on a few websites and we made a few flyers. I actually took off most of the previous week to get everything prepared. We mowed and cleaned up as much as we possibly could. Mr. Taylor moved the last of his vehicles off on Friday morning (which was cutting it a bit close), but we were in fairly decent shape. Rachael had bought a couple more EZ-Up canopies which we put up over the tables that I’d previously purchased for just these types of gatherings.
By Friday afternoon, we were ready to party. There was music playing over the PA system and food enough for everyone. A good number of powered parachutes had already arrived and we greeted the sunset from the air. We had a few tent campers around the grounds and a new friend arrived in his RV to spend the weekend with us.
I really had no idea how many people would show up to our hastily scheduled event. I’d only given about three weeks notice - all of which was via website or word-of-mouth (if you want to advertise through a website, I heartily recommend www.funplacestofly.com. The folk that run it are awesome people!). Walt L. and I had rolled and cut an area that would have held, what I estimated, about 15 airplanes. I didn’t figure that we’d have any more than 6 or 7 airplanes there at one time on Saturday.
Boy! Was I ever wrong!!!
Saturday morning started early for us. We woke up and started getting ready for arrivals at 6am. While Rachael made coffee and started cooking a hearty breakfast for everyone, I goofed off and went PPC flying. I wasn’t up for long before heading back to the field to attend to my duties, however.
Our first arrival was a pilot who’d heard about us through FunPlacestoFly. He was out flying and came in just to see the new airport that was back on the map. After taking a look around the place, he headed back into the skies. That was just the beginning, however.
Shortly afterwards, the airplanes started showing up! I guess that the extremely nice weather brought out everyone who was interested in seeing what we were doing. It was pretty darn amazing. As I said before, I didn’t figure that we’d get that many visitors - maybe 10 or so total airplanes. At one point, I counted 27 airplanes on the ground (NOT counting the powered parachutes). We ran out of parking area and some of the pilots had to pull their planes onto unimproved area - which couldn’t have been fun, because I know how bumpy it is in places.
Regardless, we had a GREAT turnout on Saturday. Being southern folk, we had fixed enough food for everyone so there wasn’t any shortage of vittles to go around. Kudos to the cooks who worked their hineys off while I walked around and did much of nothing.
We saw a lot of old friends that we already knew and met a lot of new ones. Some of the local residents who lived in the area even stopped by to see what was happening.
One of the things that my wife and I like to do is sing karaoke (she has the voice of an angel and I can do a pretty good rendition of a coyote howling). It’s obviously a popular thing to do in the DFW area, because karaoke nights will usually pack the house at the local bars. So built my own home karaoke system. We’ve grown it to amass over 45,000 songs, so it’s a pretty decent system now.
I thought it would be an fun idea to have a karaoke night at our fly-in. It started off slow. But, as the night wore on, more karaoke kings and queens stepped up to the mike as the libations eased their fears. The night ended with the trio of XXXXXXXXXX, XXXXX, and XXXXXXXXXXXX (names redacted to protect the guilty) singing a rousing rendition of “Brave New World”. (You’d think that they were too old to be watching Disney films, but ya never know…)
After enduring… um… “enjoying” that last song around midnight, we slowed things down a bit and wrapped up the night with an outdoor movie. I’d also brought along a projector and screen. I was curious to see how this would work out.
It did QUITE well. I hooked the projector to my karaoke laptop and put in the movie. The sound rocked on my karaoke sound system and the screen worked out really well. We enjoyed a late night movie before turning in to bed.
Sunday was quite a bit slower. I suppose that the late-night party crowds of today don’t recover as fast as we did when I was younger (stories never to be told to protect the guilty). I think that I saw some movement around 10am, but it may have been the wind.
Anyway, our first fly-in was a lot of fun. I expect that next year’s “Middle Finger Fly-In” will even be better!
Back to Work!
I took Friday off to get an early start on the weekend. The county had brought out some heavy equipment and had fixed the creek that ran behind my property. Caddo Creek made a turn right beside the road and was in danger of washing out the road. They had brought in a dozer, a backhoe and a grader and had straightened out the creek. This involved clearing out quite a bit of the forest in order to redirect the water flow.
That didn’t bother me much. What DID affect me was that they had cleared out so much land that it was now possible for anyone to simply turn off the road and drive onto the property from the back. Although I don’t expect any danger from thieves, I plan for it. So, Walt L. and I made building a fence along the northeast part of the airport our top priority.
I arrived at the airport about 9am in the morning to find a dozer mechanic working on Godzilla. The left side clutch plate had gone out and we weren’t able to turn to the left. $900 in part and labor later and we were back on the Nascar circuit when they come up with a dozer category!
Walt had gone to Tractor Supply and bought t-posts, galvanized posts and some field fence. We spent the afternoon setting the posts in the ground and getting ready to pull the fencing. We have to cut the crossbraces for the “H” posts, weld them up and then pull and attach the fence.
It was a good project, but I put it off for another weekend. On Saturday morning, I decided to fly over to Petit Jean Mountain to attend an annual fly-in of powered parachutes, light-sport and GA aircraft. The Petit Jean fly-in is always a lot of fun. I’d missed it the previous year because of bad weather. Rachael was visiting her family, so I took the day and flew over to visit with old friends.
Interlopers at T14
After taking last weekend off, we were back at it on Oct. 15th. The heat was starting to abate and the temperatures were getting more comfortable for working. I don’t believe that we got much over the mid-80’s for the weekend - and that’s pretty good for Texas!
Before we got started, however, we found that ANOTHER problem had manifested itself. Apparently, we had inherited a bunch of squatters - and they were doing a good job of tearing up the northwest corner of the land!
We walked the runway in the morning, as always, and found where a bunch of wild pigs had rooted all around in the northwest corner. Some of them had torn up the ground within 5-10 feet of the runway. That would simply NOT do!
Walt L. and I bought some deer corn and spread it out in the area where they’d been rooting. The hope was that the pigs would find the seed corn, stay close to the feed and not venture out any closer to the runway. I had another “option” that I wanted to try, also. Walt is an avid hunter and always has a supply of firearms with him. We were going to do some pig hunting! We laid out in a hide-away that we’d made on Friday night. But, although we could definitely hear them in the woods, they never came out into our sights. I guess that they outsmarted us that night.
Here are some pics of the damage that we found on Friday when we discovered our destructive pests. This had once been an area that we’d groomed as overflow aircraft parking. It HAD been flat and smooth the previous weekend. Not so anymore!
After wasting a bit of time on our “hog eradication” theories, we went back to work building another fence. This one was going to be more permanent, so we welded together some H-posts and corner posts to use for supporting the field fence. I’m not the best welder in the world. In fact, I’m probably waaaaay down on the list. But there’s no way to learn except by doing. So I fudged my way through and got some (hopefully) pretty good welds.
Here’s a pic of how we started that morning and of our field supervisors watching us as we worked to make sure that everything we did was up to code specs...
By later on that afternoon, we had managed to make a decent fence that should hold up without a problem. We went about 350 ft. out from the property line and will continue the fence on up the property later in the future. I will fence off an area for my horses and cows.
We only had one casualty during our fence-building process - my shoe. While Rachael drove up to the store to pick up another pair for me, I took a hint from the movie “Harley Davidsson and the Marlboro Man” and did a quick temporary fix.
“As my daddy told me before he left this cursed world - Son… you don’t just get rid of a pair of boots because they’re busted…”
I took an evening flight in the powered parachute and took a few pictures of the property. It’s changing all the time...
On Sunday night, I headed back to our hideout to see if the pigs would return. The only ones that Walt L. and I saw when we had laid out on Saturday were some smaller ones. I wanted to make an example out of a larger one, so we’d held our shots.
Walt had been tired and had gone home for the afternoon, so I laid out by myself. Rachael stayed back at the trailer to keep the dogs away (they liked to be where I was - which didn’t help your hunting prospects very much).
About 15 pigs came out of the woods and started gobbling up the corn that we’d set out. I waited to try and get a shot at a huge boar that was the head of the pack, but he never presented a good shot to me. The sun had set and twilight was just about to end. I could just barely see through the scope, so I picked out the biggest sow that I could still see, aimed and pulled the trigger. She dropped like a rock and the rest scattered into the woods.
Rachael came up in the cart and we hauled the dead100 lb. pig off into the woods. It was late and I didn’t want to spend the evening cleaning and gutting her. I just wanted to chase them off the property. <edit> The plan worked pretty well. Later game camera photos showed that, after the next night when only two showed up, I only got pictures of one pig over the next two months.
On Monday, Walt and I drove up to Greenville to the local Lowes. The next big project is to double the size of the Morgan building that I purchased back in the Spring so that we can use it as a temporary house. I wanted something a bit larger in which to reside while we build our home on the site. The Morgan building will do quite well. When I’m done with our house, it’ll become the office building for my small company and my employees will work in it. We picked up the lumber and piled it next to the building.
October 23rd and 24th
Reklaw and working on the Morgan Building
October is a good month for fly-ins in Texas. The winds die down, the temperatures are downright nice and the skies are generally clear. Inclement weather doesn’t usually start until early November. We’d had a good hard rain earlier in the week, but the skies were looking good for the annual Reklaw Fly-In at Dave and Marcia Mason’s place down in Reklaw, Texas.
The very first fly-in aviation campout that Rachael had ever been to was Reklaw. We started our honeymoon there three years ago the weekend after we got married - just before we headed out to Costa Rica for the rest of it. We have never missed a single gathering since we’ve been together. Although we both wanted to work on our place, we didn’t want to just simply not make a showing. So we drove down to Reklaw on Friday and spent the day and evening with our friends at the Flying M ranch. It was after 10pm when we finally said our goodbyes and drove back to Quinlan and our airport. It made for a long day, but we were happy that we did it. Our streak is safe. :-) The first pic is of the line of airplanes parked along the runway at Reklaw.
Before we could get started building onto the back of the Morgan building, we needed to re-level the building. The person that I’d purchased it from had just done a VERY quick job of placing blocks under it and “eyeballing” it. We needed to get it completely level before we could start building on it.
Walt and I spent the rest of the Saturday doing just that. We pulled out his laser level and got the building completely level. We were good to go when we start building (or so we thought!).
After finishing up for the day, Rachael tried on Walt’s ghillie suit to see how she blends in with the flora. I thought it was a cute pic, so I’m posting it here for the world to see (sorry, honey!).
October 26th thru 30th
Holy Hailstones, Batman!!!
Heavy rain storms were forecasted for Sunday and for most of the rest of the week, so we headed back to our “town” home on Saturday evening. A tornado touched down about 8 miles (as the crow flies) from T14 and we heard of high winds and heavy hail.
I didn’t think much of it until my friend Rusty called and asked how we’d made out. He told me that he’d seen my next-door neighbor, Mike, at the WalMart that day. Mike told him about pictures of baseball-sized hail that he’d taken with his camera.
I hopped in the truck and drove out to see if there was any damage and WOW! I was shocked and amazed by what I found. The landscape looked like something that you’d see if you looked at the Moon through a large telescope. The pockmarks and dents in the ground were truly impressive in size. Dangerously so, in fact. If someone had been outside during this freak hailstorm, it could have certainly been a fatal experience. I wandered around in amazement for minutes before starting to check the property for damages.
Every skylight in the trailer was destroyed. The skylight on my big covered trailer was also broken into pieces. Other than the roof of each shed and trailer looking like someone had taken a ballpein hammer to them, however, there wasn’t much other damage to the structures.
As I walked the runway, I found more damage. Two of my solar-powered runway lights were destroyed. Even the runway itself had deep pock marks created by some freak hailstones. I’m sincerely glad that we weren’t there during that event.
I spent the next couple days replacing broken skylights and cleaning up from the storm. Unfortunately, my Starduster had been sitting in the parking area - covered with a tarp. The hailstones were so big that they ripped through the fabric of my pretty little biplane, leaving it with tears all over the top wing, ailerons and tail surfaces. It had been left there because of a hard landing accident the month before. With the added cost of replacing and repainting the damages surfaces, the insurance company totaled my little biplane. I bought back the salvage from the company and hope to repair her some day - when I get the time.