Sep 272012

Fly-Ins Are Always Fun

I can’t ever remember going to a Fly-In that wasn’t fun. But probably the most fun are the ones at Doug & Sabrina Moler’s Hangar at High Point, Kansas. Besides the good food and music there, I always see Ultralight Flying Buddies from back in the 80’s. The 6th Annual Ultralight Fly-In filled the bill. Although the air was a little choppy, the weather was good.

Quicksilver MXL With Horse Trailers

The report had called for winds topping at 12 mph from the Northeast that day. Even though High Point is completely on the other side of Wichita from my airport, the total distance is not that far. I decided I did not need to leave at the crack of dawn to avoid the headwind as I do on my epic journeys. I left about 10am.

Horses, Too

My MXL is hangared at Selby Aerodrome which is also an equine stabling business. That morning as I drove through the complex I could see that a lot of out-of-towners had arrived with their horses to take a class or compete in a contest. About 15 of them were assembled in one of the training corrals I passed on the way to the hangar.

Horse and Rider

Great Morning For A Ride

It was a good morning for a ride – Ultralight or Horseback. As I taxied to the end of the runway I saw a guy and his horse making their way down the tree line adjacent to our runway. I snapped the shot above.

The Road to Wichita

The road shown in the picture above is the Kansas Turnpike (I-135). In this picture it appears to head right into the Wichita Skyline but it doesn’t. It goes around Wichita to the East and then up toward Kansas City. When I moved to Wichita from California in 1980, I remember “the Government” saying that as soon as this toll road was paid off it would be made into a Freeway. Well, it was paid off about 10 years or so ago and they decided they liked the money. That has not set well with me and I avoid paying that tax whenever I can…

Just West of the Turnpike is the Corn Maze shown above. It is one of the best in the area. You can take this picture with you when you go. Now you have no excuse if you get lost in there.

Cathedrals of the Plains

I guess I take a lot of pictures of the DeBruce Grain Elevators. I think they look impressive. Farther in the distance is Mid-Continent Airport.

A Teepee

Whenever I go to High Point I have to skirt the Mid-Continent traffic zone. So, at first I am heading West. I saw this Teepee out that way.

Rucker Field

Also, when passing around Mid-Continent I go over Rucker Field. It marks the South Southwestern edge of the control zone. It is a residential airport about 5 miles North of Clearwater, Kansas. It is a nice long grass field. They have a number of Fly-Ins there during the year.

After passing over Rucker Field I head in a Westwardly curving line to cross over Goddard High School. Usually on a Saturday no one is around but this day saw many young men out with their coaches getting ready for the football season.

The Mansion of the Day

Medical Emergency!

As I started to turn Northeast (directly into a 20 mph headwind), I saw flashing lights and action below me. I could see EMS people moving quickly. I was able to snap this shot. You can see a couple of EMS crew just about to enter the door of the house. There are two EMS vehicles at the scene.

Antennae Farm

Northwest of Wichita is a small town called Colwich, Kansas. They are home to a large number of TV and Radio antennae. Among them are the sticks for KSNW and KAKE.

As I swung to the Northeast to make the final leg of the flight to High Point I was encountering a 20 mph headwind at 1000′ AGL. I dropped down to about 300′ AGL where the wind was only about 12 mph. That is when I took the picture above. The only people I know who live in Maize are Sandy & Tanya White. Sandy is a local radio personality, production man and musician/band leader. Their band is called 10 Day Wish. He used to do a lot of radio and TV announcing for me. He is from Hays, Kansas – Came to the big city…

A Sand Pit

I find sand pits interesting to look at from the air. Crossing over to High Point from the Southwest allows no shortage of such opportunity. There is loads of sand around here. After the sand is all played out they have turned a lot of the results into “high end” lakefront housing. I will show a special instance of that later in the report.

Now you know where they hide the school busses during the day…

High Point Airpark was annexed by Valley Center, Kansas a few years back. Above you can see V.C. It is a pleasant, small town on the North side of Wichita. The railroad goes through it and there are a number of small industries there.


As it would happen, Valley Center was having their Fall Festival when I flew over. I was fortunate to grab the picture above of the 51st Fall Festival Parade which you can see coursing its way down the main street of town.

High Point Airpark

Just after taking the shot of the parade I was crossing into High Point Airspace. Actually that put me over Hidden Valley Airpark which I had just passed over when taking the shot above. Because they are so close, both airports maintain East Patterns so as to avoid mid-airs.

The Moler Hangar

As I passed over the field to enter the pattern I snapped a couple of pix. In the shot above you can see the epic stone walkway to the left of the Moler Hangar. It was no small achievement and a great beauty to behold. I think Doug is finally letting people put their feet on it without taking off their shoes… (go here to see pictures of its genesis)

Straight Down

After landing I saw a few of my friends milling about and asked them to pose next to their steeds.

Lawrence Alley and his new Champ

Above is Lawrence Alley whom I have featured a number of times on The Flight Blog (most recently here). Lawrence and his Son Terry own this fine Aeronca Champ. Lawrence said Terry had to work that day and could not be there. Terry is selling houses and is doing well in an otherwise slow market so missing some Saturday Real Estate Showings was not an option.

Host and Hostess

The Molers – Hard At It

The reason The Molers Fly-Ins are special is because of the great effort Doug and Sabrina put into making them so. I snapped the shot above so you could see how they spend a lot of time before, during and after the events they have here – Working!

Doug & Sabrina Moler & The Bonanza

Busy as they were I was still able to stop them for a moment to get this shot with them next to the prized Model 35 V-Tail Bonanza.

N535FL Pulls Up To Park

Monte & Helen Jestes

Monte and Helen Jestes flew in from Stillwater, Oklahoma in their homebuilt J-3 N535FL.

The Fly-In Had “Star Power”

There were two “Stars of the Show” at Saturday’s Fly-In. One was Dave Blanton and his new Breezy. The other will be introduced later in the story.

Blanton’s RLU-1 Breezy


Dave Blanton in the Breezy Driver’s Seat

Dave Blanton took it upon himself to introduce no small amount of the crowd to the thrill of flight in an open cockpit airplane. Yes, a Stearman or a Waco or any number of biplanes are “open cockpit” but none of them are as “open” as the Breezy. I saw nothing but wide smiles as people deplaned upon landing. It was a fine and wonderful thing.

Dave Straps Another “Newby Flyer” Into The Breezy

Ultralight Fly-In Star #2

Star #2 – Doug Bryant

Earlier I said there were two “Aviation Heros” at the Fly-In. Above is the other one – Doug Bryant. Doug is the owner of an Ultralight Helicopter called The Mosquito. I included him in my movie on Ultralight Flying entitled “UFM2“. In the course of shooting the segments with Doug, I had a lot of time watching it fly but many of the pilots and aviation enthusiasts in the area have never seen it before. This was a great opportunity for that. Doug doesn’t like to fly it cross country so he has fabricated a trailer that enabled him to bring it to the event. It was a real hit and I have a number of pictures in this report showing it.

Grant Groner Takes The Stick

I kept my MXL parked around the corner of the hangar in order to protect it from the gusting wind. Occasionally I would go over there to check it. Various times I saw groups of people looking it over. I love to answer questions about the Quicksilver and about Flying in general. Above you see Grant Groner. He and his Dad and their friends were looking at the plane. Grant liked the idea of becoming a pilot so I suggested he try out the seat and get a different perspective.

Danny Oplotnik, Drew Hanson, Grant Groner, Tim Groner

Mike Melzer, Wayne Bormann & N6184T

N535FL Sans Owners

A Nice Wheel Landing

John Kliewer & Cessna 120 N76446

Among those willing to experience the thrill of open-cockpit flying was a friend from our Church, Pam Winter, who came with her husband Allen.

Pam Checks Her Senses as Husband Allen Looks On

Pam Dons the Headphones

While Pam slipped the surly bonds of earth, I wandered over to the Moler Fire Pit to see what was cooking.

The Crowd Grabs Some Eats

Brots and Hots

Usually at a Fly-In I can stay ground-bound but an hour or so before experiencing the need to grab some air. After lunch, Doug Bryant and I did so – he in his Mosquito and I in my MXL. I circled above getting some pictures of him hovering around the area.

If you look carefully you can see The Mosquito over the big field between Moler’s Hangar and the hanger to its North.

Again The Mosquito Over The Field North

MXL Near Shootdown

After shooting a number of pix of Doug Bryant and his Mosquito I turned South. I had noticed there was a race going on at the 81 Speedway. I figured I’d take a look. It is only about two miles South of the High Point pattern. I was about a mile South when I noticed my engine RPM trending down. It wasn’t anything abrupt but it was definitely dropping whilst I held a steady throttle setting. In my experience flying Ultralights, this usually indicates that you are soon to make an “off field landing” (what we used to call in the 1980’s “getting shot down”). Since I always fly this plane with the idea that I may need to land at any time, this wasn’t a big problem. In fact, High Point has an “over run” area South across 85th Street. I was over that and preparing to land there. At the same time I was working the throttle to see if I could get the motor to give me enough power to nurse the plane back to the High Point runway. The Rotax finally stabilized at about 4300 RPM so I eased my way back on final to High Point, landed and taxied back to my spot next to the Hangar. Everybody was still watching Doug hover the ‘copter around the area. I was really glad for not having to land across the street. That would have been a huge hassle getting back to Moler’s Hangar.

Flying with 2 stroke motors all these years I have been in this circumstance more times than you would believe. Most of them were with the problematical Cuyuna engines. There are a few scenarios that can cause the effect I described earlier but the first things you check are the “easy” ones – Fuel Starvation and Plug Fouling. The great dread is Stuck Rings and Seizure. I won’t go into a bunch more detail of this situation other than to tell you I was blessed with the least of problems – Fouled Plugs. This is a problem that is embarrassing to relate as it is entirely preventable. I have been flying so much this Flying Season that I just forgot to take them out and check them. It is a good idea to do that every 25 hours of flying time. When you have to burn an oil and gas mixture as you do in a 2 stroke motor, the plugs have a tendency to develop deposits of carbon on them. This can fill the plug gap and cause them not to spark properly. That is what happened to me that Saturday.

Friends In A Fix Are Friends Indeed

My Friend Neil Rhetberg To The Rescue

Besides the Providentiality of the Spark Plug Fouling being so “little” a problem (An Engine Seizure will put you down for an indeterminate time period…), I also had The Fortune of Friends willing to help ameliorate the situation. First, Doug Moler has every tool known to man in his Hangar and he said to use what ever I needed. Second, my Buddy Neil Rhetberg drove me over to the parts store so I could get some new spark plugs. Third, as I was taking the caps off the plugs in order to remove them, one of the plug caps snapped in two. This “additional bump in the road” was solved through the agency of Buddy Bryson Voth who went to his Hangar to let me borrow one of his caps. Bryson has a Quicksilver GT-400 hangared at High Point. He pulled one of his caps so I could use it. Bryson did not want his picture taken but I appreciate his effort immensely.

After all that, the MXL was back in service. By then Doug Bryant had fired The Mosquito up again.

The Engine Smoke Is Normal

Getting the MXL airworthy took over an hour. It was getting late in the day so I said goodbye, saddled up and took off. It had taken me an hour to get to High Point from Selby when I came over in the morning. Now, though, with a tailwind I figured a trip home of about 45 minutes. As I fired up my engine Doug Moler was strapping on his Airbike to go up and make some smoke passes. I hung around the area for a few minutes to photograph the show. Below is the result.

Doug Moler Passes The Crowd – Smokin’!

Heading Home

Looking Due West About 5 Miles South of Valley Center at 1500′ AGL

As I left the area the sun was low on the horizon. Because it was behind a cloud layer I was able to grab the shot above. I liked the sun reflecting off the lake. Soon thereafter I noticed some action at The Kansas International Dragway. Approaching the strip I saw some bikes rocket down the line.

The Dragstrip from about 1500′ AGL Looking West

Burnouts. Note The Smoke Downwind.

One last shot before I passed out of the area.

 Old Sand Pits Get New Life

I have passed over the housing development shown above many times. It is set up so you can water ski on the lake. They also have a ski jump installed at one end of the Northern lake and an American Flag flying over their island.

Heading Down At Dusk

As I continued South around the Mid-Continent control zone I benefitted from an 8 mph tailwind at about 1500′ AGL. The sky was mostly cloudy off to the West so the “scene lighting” was not propitious for photography. I did see some interesting things and took pictures of them but they were “flat” and lacking highlights – not up to the standard The Sky Surfer’s readers have come to expect. I left them out. Instead I attempted some sunset shots which are included below.

The Wichita Skyline

Because of the approaching darkness, my little pocket cam could not focus properly. Regardless, I left the next two shots in because they otherwise faithfully present the scene I saw below me as I entered the Selby pattern with the sun touching the horizon.

So ended Another Great Day on The Great Plains.

See you next time! (Probably a Surfing Safari to Cottonwood Falls if the weather holds out)

Blue Skies & Tailwinds!™

Brian FitzGerald