September, 2010 - Continued.
Sept. 14th thru 17th - A diversion
After the weekend was over, I had to make a flight up to Grand Forks, ND on Tuesday for a business trip. Rachael joined me and, after I had my Wednesday morning meeting, we took “the long way home”. The hotels in Grand Forks, while rarely full, were actually completely booked for the rest of the week for a realtors convention. We decided to fly to Bismarck and stay there overnight before continuing on towards home.
Unfortunately, Bismarck was also suffering from another shortage of hotel rooms. We were blessed, however, with having some VERY accommodating hosts at Bismarck Aero Center. They had a nice crew sleeping room in which we were able to spend the night at no charge. They even had a courtesy car which we used to go out and get some supper.
We got up the next morning, made a little jig out west to Baker, Montana and then headed south for Wyoming. We’d never seen Devil’s Tower before. It is located just southwest of Hulett, WY. We landed in Hulett and were able to obtain their courtesy car. We drove down the mountain and into the town where we had a nice lunch before driving the 15 miles up to Devil’s Tower. After spending the afternoon hiking around the national monument, we left Hulett and flew towards Sturgis, SD. The Sturgis airport was closed for a runway repaving upgrade, so we flew on over the Black Hills to Custer, SD. I’d met a local pilot at Hulett who gave me some great advice about how to get Rapid City Approach to vector us so that we could see Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial. After flying over both of the massive stone carvings, we landed at the Custer Airport, rented a car and then drove into town to stay the night.
We spent that afternoon and the next day touring the Crazy Horse memorial and going to Mt. Rushmore. South Dakota is a beautiful place. We’ll definitely go back! We flew back home on Friday so that we could go back to work on T14 that weekend.
September 18th thru 21st
I hit the ground running on Saturday morning. I flew Rachael’s Cutlass over to Taylor and she drove over in the truck. Walt and I headed into town to get supplies. While we were away, Rachael called and informed me that someone had driven onto the property with a powered parachute in tow. We arrived back shortly afterwards and met Mike Minor; who’d heard that the airport was open on another forums. He asked to fly from our field, to which I gladly gave permission. He left his PPC on the trailer parked away by the runway and said that he’d return that afternoon.
We continued to work mowing the grass, picking up trash and cleaning up the property. While I was away on my business trip, Walt had prepared our water tank pad to be poured. He had put in all the rebar and had everything ready for concrete. We scheduled a cement truck for the following Monday afternoon.
Mike showed back up that afternoon and we took the rest of the day off to go flying. While we were up flying PPC’s, Rachael went up with Walt in her 172RG to do touch-n-goes. She made her first solo landing there later on that afternoon. I was up in the air watching her from the powered parachute.
Just as scheduled, the cement truck showed up on Monday and we got the pad poured for the water tank. We finally got to start building something on the property. Previously, we’d been in “cleanup” mode.
September 24th thru 26th
Things are finally moving along. We had a pad poured and ready to go. The pad was extra-heavy duty. We figured that, once the water tank was filled, it would hold almost 40,000 lbs. of weight (water and tank). This was to be our last weekend before our first “official” fly-in and we had a lot that we wanted to get done.
We started off by burning the rest of the dead trees that were piled on the sides of the runway and at the southern end of the property. It was hot and dry. We had to watch each burn carefully. Twice, the fires almost got away from us and only frantic clearing using the tractor and brush hog kept us from having to “call in the cavalry”.
On Saturday, we had extra help. Our friend and student pilot, Yanni, and Mike Minor came back to offer their help. It was the perfect time to raise the water tank. After scratching our heads a little bit as to how we would proceed, I pushed the water tank from it’s resting place over to the pad area with the golf cart. We then maneuvered it so that the intake and line-out holes would be in the proper positions.
I then crawled inside the tank with my power washer and cleaned it out carefully, making sure that there wasn’t even a single speck of dirt. I sucked all the water out with a shop vacuum and then crawled out for the last time.
Using some big industrial straps, we hooked up one side of the tank to the loader on MoFo and then carefully backed up and raised the tank onto the pad. We were all exuberant when the tank dropped onto the pad EXACTLY in the place and position where we wanted. Sometimes, ya just get lucky…
Thanks to Mike and Yanni, we were able to get a major job done. After they’d left for the day, we went back to burning the tree piles. While we were burning our last piles at the south end of the runway late on Sunday evening, Yanni and Anise dropped by while out on a training flight. We chatted with them for a while before they started up and departed. The wind from the plane’s prop did an amazing job of flaring up the tree pile that we were watching. It was very late before we headed for home that Sunday night, but we were getting close to being ready for next weekend’s first OFFICIAL fly-in!