The Most Recent Best Day of My Life • Brian FitzGerald
I have come to the conclusion that it is not right to have only one “Best Day in Your Life”. I have decided you can have many. In addition to our Wedding and several of my Birthdays, various memories with the kids as they were growing up Jack’s Graduation and Bevin’s Wedding and other days too numerous to mention, I add this Fun Flight to Newton, Kansas for the EAA Chapter 88 Annual Fly-In on 2 July 2011.
It started around Sunrise with an 80º temperature that I like just fine. Great t-shirt and shorts weather. I also brought my 2006 Sun ‘n Fun baseball hat (not shown) to wear at the Fly-In.
As I set course around the city of Wichita for Newton I discovered that even though the wind was nil on the surface I was getting a smooth 30 mph tailwind carrying me to my destination. Nice!
On my flight up to Newton I snapped off a few photos of things I found interesting.
I am of the opinion that suburban churches like the one we belong to (Central Christian Church) miss the boat on one major account in that they do not have their own cemetery. It is a discussion I would love to make but this is not the place or time for it. Regardless, it is one reason why I took the next picture.
When I got there about 7:15am things were just beginning to roll. The EAA folks are always pleasant and organized as you taxi up and they treat pilots as special guests. They always give you a plaque for coming to the event. I was an EAA member for about 12 years but dropped out about 4 years ago. Maybe I’ll start again. I saw a lot of folks I know and got to see a lot of interesting airplanes, RC planes, rockets and Corvettes. How could this NOT be a great day? I am going to insert a number of pictures of airplanes and other objects of interest at the Fly-In. Usually I spend a lot of time looking up the owners of the planes and some details about each airplane which I then put in the captions. I am very busy right now and don’t have time to do that. So, I will give you the “Cub Reporter Tip of The Day For Looking up N Numbers” – Simple – Go HERE. Now, if you are interested in finding out about a particular airplane, you can do it yourself.
Because I wasn’t sure what the winds would be like I had staged some extra gas at my friends Doug and Sabrina Moler’s house at High Point, Kansas. I have made the trip before and got back to to my home field, Selby Aerodrome, without problem. Regardless, experience has taught me that running out of gas can turn a “Best Day Of Your Life” into “The Most Challenging Day of Your Life” when you land in a farm field and have to get someone to bring you some go juice – especially when the temperature is hovering near 100º. That being said, after a great day of looking at airplanes and showing people mine, I finally left Newton Airport at about 3pm and headed for High Point to top off my fuel for the trip home. I made two circuits of the pattern to take these shots of the field and tarmac area (that’s what the press likes to call it…) where the Fly-In took place. After leaving Newton I intersected I-135 heading South and saw some interesting things. Naturally I thought others might like to see them also so here you are:
When I arrived at The Moler’s Place at High Point, Sabrina had opened the hangar doors because Doug said he was heading that way and they needed to put the Sport Racer in because they were heading to another event of some sort. Just as I had finished re-fueling I noticed the clouds forming to the Southwest. I called my wife Debra to look on TV and see what the radar was showing even though I had a pretty good idea. Generally this time of year the weather Southwest is heading to us because the predominant winds are out of there (The Kansa Indians were “the people of the South wind”, right?). Today, though, at that moment the weather was a little more out of the east. I figured if I got going right away I might make it before the rain fell at Selby Aerodrome OR I could divert to The GliderPort and hang out there for a while.
After leaving High Point when I travel around the East Side of Wichita I generally pass over The GliderPort (aka: Wichita Airpark) and then head Southerly. Here is an interesting view I noticed as I skimmed the North edge of Jabara Airport. The captions tell the rest. This gives you some idea why we call Wichita “The Air Capitol of the World”.
As I approached the GliderPort, the inclement weather alluded to earlier had manifested quicker than I had hoped. After crossing over the GliderPort I could see a perfect wall of water descending vertically from the heavens from about Derby, Kansas all the way out to Cook Field or Rose Hill, Kansas. (It really looked neat and I really wish I would have taken a picture but I was cogitating…) This squall line was right in my path. The question revolved around TIME. I knew it wouldn’t be there long and I was 90% sure it would head East out of the area “soon”. I just couldn’t tell how soon. Also, while I can put the Quicksilver down in pretty much any of the hundreds of fields in that area there was that 10% possibility the wind would shift and the squall would head more North and that would mean it would head toward me. This would put me in a position of having to put down in more populated areas where people live on 40 to 160 acre plots on the East and Southeast side of Wichita. I really avoid that kind of thing any more because sometimes well-meaning folks will phone a cautionary landing of that type in as a “crash”. It draws WAY too much attention and is not as fun as it could be….
Anyway, this detailed discussion in my mind took place in about 3 microseconds. The result of it was to turn back to one of my favorite places on the planet – The GliderPort. I had hangared my old Quicksilver MX there for most of the 80’s and consider it an aviation place sublime. Seein’s how I used to take my children out there for fun visits all the time when they were young (I thought it was fun…), dropping in to wait out a rain patch for a while could only be pleasant. Remember… In the immortal words of Don Forse, “Park” is a biggest part of the word “Airpark”. So, I turned back and landed and here are some pictures of the action that day.
A little after I took these shots Charles Waters wandered over from the other hangar and offered me a drink of water. His timing was perfect. While we were talking in the hangar I realized I had taken a picture of his Piper PA-22-108 at the Fly-In (it’s the N5037Z Chief shown earlier in this post). After talking with him for a while I remembered he was talking to another guy while I was taking the shot of the Cessna Caravan. It turns out Charles is an instructor for the Caravan at Flight Safety in Wichita.
Charles had to leave and within 5 minutes my good buddy Doug Bryant materialized. Apparently he was going on a power walk in the country and saw me fly into the field so he walked on over. Doug is one of the stars of my “UFM2” movie on Ultralights. He flies, sells and builds parts for the Mosquito Helicopter. You can see him on my website HERE.
After Doug and I finished discussing various and sundry topics I looked to the South and just as I predicted (with 90% surety…) the rain squall had moved East and it was time for me to motor on. On cue, Doug’s wife showed up to drive him home. I said Goodbye and took to the sky.
My last shot of the day was taken from about 800′ South East of Derby, Kansas. I used the telephoto. I saw all the cars and the tent on the lawn and knew this must be a big affair – probably a wedding. My Wife Debra and I just married our Wonderful Daughter Bevin off to her High School Sweetheart Whitney so I knew this was a special affair. Therefore I took pains not to disturb them by flying too close. Most of us folks out here in Kansas believe marriage is a sacred and important covenant to be honored by all.
Well, that was the latest “Best Day of My Life”. I hope you found some of it interesting. I’ll be sure to post the next Big Day as soon as it happens.
Blue Skies & Tailwinds!
Very nice photos and description of your “Day” Brian. You have an interesting “eye” for capturing things of interest that most people would only give a quick glace to. You have covered all aspects of your flight and relayed them to us well. EAA chapter 88 thanks you for the coverage.
The fly-in was a good event, wish you could have stayed through the evening banquet.
Brian, you sure take excellent pictures! The people that don’t fly will never see the beautiful earth as we do. Thanks for your good work.