Aug 082011

New Fun Flight Concept

About a month ago I embarked on a new Fun Flight Concept. I started with an internet search for all the airports within a 60 mile radius of my base Selby Aerodrome. Then I gathered data about all these airports with the idea of traveling to them and documenting each visit. I have already done that with the Argonia, Kansas trips and of course I have shown Beaumont, Kansas. But last Saturday at dawn it was time to go to Kingman, Kansas a picturesque burg West of Wichita down Highway 56. Actually I had already made my first flight there on the 22nd of July and had taken a lot of pictures that day but I had not yet posted them. So I am going to combine the two trips into one post here.  That way, all us Kingman fans will get much more bang for the buck. I’m positioning this post mostly from the standpoint of Saturday the 30th of July because that is freshest in my mind…

Since I generally keep my airspeed at 40 mph, I don’t make much headway into any substantial wind. Around here even though the wind might be only about 7 mph on the surface it will generally translate into at least a 20 mph wind sometimes as low as 100′ off the surface. A 20 mph wind is pretty common. Because of this I tend to make my fun flights “crosswind”. You lose a little airspeed in a crosswind but it is negligible and so you get close to your airspeed across the ground. I know I’m not in this type of flying to break speed records but you can burn a lot of gas going nowhere in a 20 mph headwind so crosswind flying makes all the difference in the world. Besides there are plenty of interesting places to go East and West of my home field. This day I followed the dictum of the 19th Century: “Go West Young Man!”

This morning the wind was West South West so I bore a little more “head” than “cross” wind and showed about 28 mph ground speed on the GPS. For a roughly 50 mile flight that’s about an hour and 20 minutes. Just about enough for one leg of an Ultralight Adventure! Wheels were up at 7:10 am. I would have left earlier but my hangar buddy Joe Oneal showed up with his son Ashley just as I had lowered the hangar door to leave. They were going to take Joe’s HiMax up around the patch. We hung out for a little while and then I said goodbye and went aloft.

One of the nice things about flying early in the morning is the long shadows from the rising sun. Since I’m sure you won’t guess why I took a picture of this field I will tell you. That is a Polo Field. Yes, the Sport of Kings is played just outside Haysville, Kansas.

You can’t have the Sport of Kings without people skilled in riding the semi-wild animals they use for field transport during the games. The arena ahead is one such place and I saw many trailers around. I was thinking they were having a show or school later that day.

I stayed at 1,000′ so as not to spook the horses. Apparently, though I was the only one “up” this morning.

As I pointed out in the Argonia “Intense!” story earlier, it has been very dry in our area lately. Because of that I found this series of fields amazing. There had been a thunder shower through here the night before but I am shocked to see how green this suddenly is. Maybe there is more to this that somebody else can tell me – some type of seep irrigation or something. There is no center pivot irrigation so all I can figure is the rainstorm made this green up so dramatically.

I shot this because I like the way they put those contour lines in the field. I’m not sure what purpose they play but maybe it has to do with rain retention.

As I continued to head West I saw something that had me puzzled on a trip to Argonia. There are these large trenches with something covered in white plastic and held down by old tires. My buddy (and announcer) Terry Frazier (aka Roger Mundy) thinks they are “horizontal silos” used for “seasoning” silage for the livestock. That sounds like a pretty good answer.

Cheney, Kansas

On the way to Kingman you pass Cheney. Cheney is also the name of the man-made lake about 10 miles north. It is a good place for fishing, swimming and other water sports. Sometimes I fly over and around it but have never landed there.

Still on the way to Kingman… The color in this photo is not playing out as well as it did to my eye in person. That red dirt reminds me of the type Oklahoma is known for.

I had not seen anything like this in Kansas before. It reminds me of Arizona or Utah.

Although this shot reveals the depressing nature of the drought as evidenced in the low water level, it makes a very interesting landscape portrait.

Here we approach Kingman from the East South East at about 800′ AGL. I really liked the meandering river in the foreground.

South East of Kingman from about 800′ AGL.

Runway 36 – Clyde Cessna Field


Now, from the East…

Seen from about 1,000′ AGL, the previously mentioned Highway 54 extends from under the nose of my MXL pointing the way to Kingman, Kansas.

Clyde Cessna Field – located on the North West side of town.

Here’s the nice sign they have. Because I wanted to include so much in this shot I used the super wide angle lens  The down side is that things appear farther than they are. That is why I inserted the arrow so you could see my bright, yellow MXL parked near the gas pump far to the right.

One of the big draws for landing at the airfield in Kingman is that it is named Clyde Cessna Field. Man, you can’t come up with a bigger name in aviation than that. And as should be the case, his namesake field is one of the nicest small airports I have been to. It is well maintained, has a self-service fuel pump, coffee in the pot and a loaner car to get into town with. I like it A LOT.

Robert Crow – CFI

Above you see one of the bravest men in the territory – Robert Crow, Certified Flight Instructor. I got Robert to stand in front of the proof of my previous sentence. Each of those pictures represents a person he has cut loose from the surly bonds of earth. This evidence also marks him as a man of great magnanimity in that you can’t get paid enough to do that kind of work. There is no doubt he loves flying and introducing others to the wonder and beauty of it!

Larry and Dick of Captain D Aviation – Eureka, Kansas

Also while at Cessna Field I had the distinct pleasure of meeting these two gentlemen who have the enviable job of flying the pipelines of this region. How cool is that? They get to motor around in a really nice Cessna Cardinal at about 200′ checking for pipeline leaks. These guys fly UNDER ME ’cause I stay at about 600′ AGL most of the time. It was excellent to engage in some hangar talk with these veterans of the aviation game. And, they tell it like it is.

I jumped in the loaner car to drive into town. Before that I wanted to get some shots of my Wife’s work. She is a petroleum geologist.

This is my efficiency shot. In this I show the airport courtesy car and Debra’s Oilfield.

This is the derrick for an oil well my Wife Debra found. It is right off the north end of Clyde Cessna Field.

Without a radio, this is the best way to tell what town you are flying over.

What a beautiful brick Church.

And then across the street…

The main street of Kingman, Kansas.

I love brick streets and here is one of the best examples around. I also like the building.

Another angle of Kingman’s main street. The sky is so blue it is reflecting on the street brickery.

I grabbed some coffee at Mollie’s Attic.

While having some coffee and a cranberry muffin I at Mollie’s I saw a circular talking about the Kingman County 4H Fair. BINGO! I love county fairs. In addition to fair-going, another one of my favorite things to do is to go to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita. I like to take my kids (even though they are now full grown) and we always go to the petting zoo so I can feed the goats and sheep. I like it a lot but it costs about $18 each to get in these days. County Fairs are basically free and pretty much the same deal with DRAMA. Prizes are being won. It’s a show. So I jumped in my courtesy car and went to the fair.

Exhibitors were setting up their booths.

I didn’t get her name but this young girl was very photogenic and did a great job getting the cow to smile, too.

I talked with these guys for a while. They informed me that even though 4H is for the Kids, it becomes a Parent/Child (and sometimes Grandparent/Child) enterprise. But, it is a lot of fun and an excellent learning experience for all.

This young guy was muscling this beef across the street when I popped the shot.

I stopped at The Beef Barn and met John Meng and his boys. John is a “No Till” farmer/rancher raising wheat, soybeans and cattle. They are from the Pretty Prairie, Kansas area and won at least one prize for cattle “best gain”. The shot below reminds me of the old Western Movie where the one guy in town has all the sons and the other guy has all the daughters. The other guy with all the daughters wasn’t at the fair today… (bummer, boys…)

Nick, Mike John Adam and Kevin Meng. I think that is one of their award winning cattle peaking out behind Mike…

The best I could tell was that this was a combined teaching/coaching session. The lady in the middle of the crowd was prepping the kids on how to show their flop-eared rabbits.

Man, talk about cute animals. They are just like live teddy bears.

The lady addresses the crowd at the lop-eared bunny conclave.

Now she provides some individualized advice.

I was amazed how calm and relaxed the brown and white rabbit was. He just sat there like an old man watching TV in his favorite recliner. I was very impressed with the polite and courteous manner of the kids. They were very serious about their craft. I think they are very fortunate to have the opportunity to raise animals. I hope they appreciate it.

I caught this little girl and her family members heading toward the show pen. These sheep minded just as well as a dog. Wait… Come to think of it they minded FAR better than my dogs mind me…

No caption necessary.

This little cutie is Abby Flickner of Kingman, Kansas. She was working about as hard as anyone I saw that day getting these hogs ready to show. It’s got to be a tough job because while I was watching them, the hogs just wanted to wallow around in the dirt. I stopped her as she was laying out clean ground cover to get them off the dirt so she could get them looking their best.

I went across the street where the Case dealer was showing this tractor. It took me 5 tries to get this shot. I entitled it:”Grandma taking a picture of Granddaughter in the big wheel while holding a somewhat rare Chinese Crested Hairless on a leash”.

Finally I left the County Fair and headed back to Clyde Cessna Field. The lens on my pocket cam is so wide it makes things look really far away. So, I put the arrow in the shot so you could see where I tied down my plane.

After I fueled up, I was ready to take off when some folks showed up. They had seen me circumnavigate the town when I arrived and decided to drive over to see the plane. I let the little guy sit in the seat and took this shot. (No. That’s not my gas spill in the foreground…)

I had told various folks at the Fair I would pass over them on my way back to Wichita. So, after liftoff I cleared the pattern and headed South. You can see the Fairgrounds next to the river at about the middle of the shot. This is looking East from about 1,000′.

Kingman County Fairgrounds

On the way up I had shown this stretch of desolation but this time on the way back to Wichita I dropped down to about 100′ to show it to you closer.

My buddy, Gary Foster the farmer, just calls this erosion. I showed him the picture at Church and he did not see any beauty in it. He was not impressed.

I was at about 800′ a bit South of Cheney, Kansas when I saw this park or whatever. I still don’t know what it is.

What intrigued me was this statue or monument or mobile. It is quite large and appears to be made out of telephone poles. I didn’t want to get any closer because the forest was dense. When you are flying you always have to plan  to land at any time in case the engine goes quiet. Also it is bad form to get closer than 500′ horizontally from people with your airplane.

This is a good example of Center Pivot Irrigation. Because we have been having so little rainfall lately you can really see what effect it has on crops from this shot. Sometimes Farmers will plant a crop that needs less water outside the irrigation circle. In this case, though, it is the same crop. Water:Green – No Water:Brown.

This is the same arena I passed over early this morning when no one was stirring.

I stayed off a ways so as not to unsettle the horses but if you look close you can see some with their riders mounted tooling around the grounds.

I got back to Selby Aerodrome and made a pass at the field like I generally do. I checked my gas and I still had a goodly amount and really didn’t feel like folding my wings yet so I headed over toward Mulvane, Kansas. From afar I saw some action on the lake.

Skidoo action on the Lake West of Mulvane, Kansas.

On a whim I decided to get closer to check out the action. As I came into their view, all the WaveRider folks looked up and waved. I returned the wave and decided “Showtime!”. I dived for the opposite side of the lake to do a low pass. As it would happen we all got the same idea at the same time. It was like group telepathy. Two Skidoos with what looked like a Dad and Son on each took off to race with me. The air was really turbulent so I didn’t get any lower than about 30′ from the water surface but it was pretty fun. The watercraft were gaining on me and pulled up to about the tail of my plane when a grove of trees at the South end of the lake cut the fun short. I pulled up high and did a wing over to the right. As I passed back over the area I saw some of them doing tight circles like you see them doing in the shot above. So, not to be outdone, I moved in back overhead and did the sky version: Two 80 degree bank “Tight 360’s” – one first to the left and then one to the right.

After that I decided it was time to finish the flight and I headed back to the hangar to put my Yellow Bird (named Little “B”) in the stable.

Another fine adventure in the skies above The Great State of Kansas.

Blue Skies & Tailwinds!

Brian FitzGerald