Oct 082010

When I go on Fun Flights I frequent a number of fields to the east and south of the Selby Aerodrome. No doubt the one visited the most is Alley Field on the edge of Douglas, Kansas. After that is Cherokee Strip in Udall, Kansas. Even though I like to go to those fields I like to try some other places on occasion. A “problem direction” is West. Rucker Airfield is almost directly west of my home field Selby but it is pretty close and not much of a trip. Also, there is rarely anyone around.

So, I dredged my memory banks and came up with the idea to go to Norwich, Kansas and drop in to the Norwich Airport. I had been there a number of times. Once I went there to interview Duane Life for one of my early Ultralight Movies. Another time my wife and I drove out there to look at the house next to the airfield. I had a rough idea how far it was but did not consult a map (more about that later…)

A Radome south of Mid Continent Airport shooting south from about 500' AGL

Pretty much straight west of Selby Field and south of Mid Continent Airport is this radome. I have seen it before when going this way. Today I must say I sacrificed the shot for the trip because I didn’t want to get closer beings how I was on a mission to Norwich. I have mused while looking at it wondering how much the farmer (note silos, etc. to the right of it) gets every month for having this eyesore on his property. I suppose they don’t notice it after a while.

Again I hate to admit is but I sacrificed the photo angle due to my desire to get to Norwich before it got too late. What I am marveling at here are the tractor patterns combined with the interesting “swells” in the field. I need to as a farmer why they put these rivulets in their field on occasion. I suspect it is to direct water in some manner. In addition to those interesting shapes is the teardrop lake at the bottom of the shot. I guarantee you my normal attitude would have been to circle around and line up the shot better but, like I said earlier, I was on a mission…

Plows Ply the Prairie

When we have a little breeze I always like the way the wind moves the dust across the ground and into the sky. One of the interesting aspects of flying is that you are in a mostly invisible fluid. You get so you know where to expect turbulence down near the ground depending on the direction of the wind and any objects upwind of your path. You also can often gauge where you will meet convection currents rising over the hot fields below. But, you mostly never can actually see the air. That is unless there is dust or fog or clouds moving with the wind to give shape to its direction.

Check 6

“Check 6” (Six o’clock) is a Fighter Pilot term meaning to check behind you to see if the enemy has taken position there fixing to shoot you down. I shot this picture so I could impress you with that factoid and also so you could get a feel for the sparseness of my aeroplane. (Note the gleam of the propeller at the left edge of the shot)

Clearwater, Kansas

After taking the previous shot through the empennage, I thought it would be neat to break my convention and allow the left wing cables intrude into this shot. On further examination I have decided to not do that again. Anyway, here is a perfunctory shot of Clearwater, Kansas. Next time I will do a better job but this flight I was on a mission to get to Norwich before the sun went down.

More Interesting Patterns

I took this shot because I can’t figure the farmer’s thought pattern at all on this one. Maybe somebody can explain the method behind this one.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

One thing I tend to take for granted is the fine road and bridgework we have in this country. If you have ever been overseas you will thank God when you return to America. We are used to hundreds, even thousands of bridges that don’t even have names that get us quickly across short expanses such as this. If this bridge wasn’t here, traffic would have to detour miles out of the way to cross this little riverbed.


I had to quickly whip out my camera to grab this shot. I haven’t decided if this guy is selling these or if they are temporary because he had a bumper crop.

Tractors in formation

A Hole in a Field

I couldn’t figure if this is a disposal well for an oil well or what. I thought it might be a lagoon but there are no houses around.

Art Shot

Norwich Field

As you can see from this shot taken at about 200′, the sun was getting low in the sky by the time I reached Norwich.

Hay bales in the setting sun

South of Norwich I noticed these hay bales scattered all over the field and grabbed the shot.

Norwich, Kansas from the south at about 150'

After shooting the “Hay Bale” shot above I turned 180 degrees to head back to the airfield. That moment allowed me a moment to grab this shot and the next one of Norwich.

Norwich from the South a bit closer this shot

My MXL+ with Norwich hangars in the background

Naturally I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a shot of my bird at “Magic Time”. OK, that’s another factoid for you. “Magic Time” is film talk for the hour before sundown when the light takes on a golden tone and generally the wind drops down, etc. It was all that on this evening. But beings how it had taken me a lot longer than I had expected, I got right back to the plane and started the motor. Then as I was adjusting my seat belt and checking the controls, out of the corner of my eye…

A guy pulls up on the runway

I was literally getting ready to take off when I see this guy on the runway looking at me. He wasn’t acting irritated or anything so I for about a millisecond I pondered what to do. I reached up, killed the engine, took off my seatbelt and stepped out of the seat as I took off my helmet. Then this guy looked surprised. He thought I was a buddy of his that has a similar looking Quicksilver. Then he wanted to start talking about my airplane and all. I really like to talk about airplanes and flying in general but I had about a 45 minute flight back to Selby and about 15 minutes of sun. Then when I mentioned that I used to come to this field to visit my buddy Duane Life he really lit up because Duane is one of lifetime buddies. Anyway I finally told him I HAD to go because I can’t fly in the dark.

Boomer of Norwich

So, after I got back in the cockpit with engine running I had the inspiration to get a better picture of this guy and motioned him to come around front of me so the light would be more amenable. His name is Boomer but I can’t remember his last name. After this I took off and headed east.

Late evening tractors plow in formation

These next few shots make it look darker than it was because my pocket camera cannot handle low light conditions well. I liked this shot because it showed three tractors working the same field. If you are not from around here you would be surprised at how late the guys will work in the fields. Most of these tractors have headlights on them and some of the combines have big racks of lights on them.

Just at sundown looking east at Clearwater, Kansas from about 500' AGL

I finally touched down at Selby Aerodrome about 20 minutes after sundown. The guys had left the hangar door open for me and I taxied right in. It was a fine flight.

Blue Skies & Tailwinds!

Brian FitzGerald