Oct 122012

Weather Marginal

As we “Fall” inexorably toward Winter, the weather becomes more unpredictable in Kansas. The climate can change dramatically from one day to the next. For instance, as I write this on the Wednesday following “Wellington Wings and Wheels” (aka: w3), the sky is clear, the wind is nil and the temperature is a “shirt sleeve” 60 degrees. On the Saturday of W3, that was not the case. It was completely overcast, 42 degrees and windy. I suppose it could have been worse BUT it could have been better, too. Regardless, the turnout was good and I had a lot of fun.

The Flight There

Gusty wind or low temperature, I was determined to go to this Fly-In. I figured even if it was cold, the flights to and from Wellington would only be about 20 minutes long at the most. I can handle a chill for that kind of time. No big deal. I have flown this open cockpit flyer in colder temperatures for longer flights. As long as it isn’t raining, it’s a GO. That type of bravado caused me to jettison my “full cover” helmet at the last moment to make the flight wearing only goggles and ear muffs. 5 minutes into the flight I realized that was a mistake but did not consider it serious enough to turn back. The rest of my body was pretty warm as is evidenced in the shot below.

Hands Are Toasty

My “electric hands” stood the cold fine. They actually got a little hot since I had the heat turned up to “redline”.

Outbound on the downwind leg, Selby Field passes under my MXL right wing.

Still on the Downwind, looking Southeast…

…and Southwest. No break in the cloud cover from horizon to horizon.

Grey Sky At All 4 Corners

As you can see in the panorama series above, the ceiling was low and solid. The wind was about 20 mph from the North so I was getting a good boost on the way South to Wellington Field. For the mathematically inclined, this tailwind increased my groundspeed 50%. That made my near-frostbitten cheeks tolerable.

As I passed the Kansas Star Casino I decided the mostly empty parking lot indicated that Aviators are more dedicated than gamblers on a Saturday morning. Some would say Aviators ARE gamblers. Decide for yourself.

Wellington Municipal Airport

Wellington Municipal is very close to Selby Aerodrome. I stop by there frequently during the year. It is owned by the city of Wellington, Kansas which was named after The Duke of Wellington. I guess that spreads class over the entire area. It is a fairly active airport and they host a number of events. Rather unique was the Radio Controlled Jet Rally held there a little while back.

Wellington Municipal From 1500′ AGL Looking Southeast

Head’s Up

As I entered the pattern I only took one picture of the field. The CAF (Commemorative Air Force) trio was ahead of me in the pattern and I wanted to make sure I was seeing anybody else that might be around. The visibility was 10 miles but the overcast sky made for diminished visual contrast. This makes it more difficult to pick up traffic. You have to keep looking. As I turned Base, I saw a guy on long final who followed the CAF group in. So, I popped a 360 and dropped in behind him. The wind was gusty but certainly manageable. After I turned off the active the “follow me” guy asked if I wanted to park in the grass. There were no tie-downs there, though. I said I needed some and he gave me a good spot near the Air Plains hangar next to some sailplanes. It must be nearly calm in order to leave an Ultralight parked without tie-downs and that Saturday was windy all day.

1941 Super Ryan

The first thing that caught my eye after tying down my Quicksilver was the Super Ryan occupying the place of honor nearest the tent. The Ryan ST Series is one of the most attractive of all the Classic Airplanes. I featured The Antique Airplane Association’s Ryan STA in the first installment of my series on Vintage/Classic Airplanes called “That They Might Fly Again“.  There’s has the Menasco engine. Based at Wellington Municipal, I believe this radial engined “Super Ryan ST” is a one-of-a-kind. I looked around for info on it but could not find much. If anyone has more data on it I would appreciate an addition to this report.

Some Hot Rods

Since this was a “Wings and Wheels” gathering there were a lot of notable cars in attendance. While airplanes are my main thing I am also quite enamored of the Automobile. In fact one of my favorite movie projects was a piece I did on the American Muscle Car I entitled “Decade of Thunder“. So, I’ll show you a few of the Cherry Rides that were at the show before I get back to the airplanes.

Around the time I was born, my Parents owned a Buick like the one shown below. You can see in its design a movement that was sweeping the auto industry at that time. It was the dawn of the Jet Age and auto makers were drawing upon the sleekness and aerodynamic styling of the cutting edge aircraft in that era. Even the hood ornaments were fashioned after Jets and Rockets. The icing on the cake was something you wouldn’t see on aircraft, though, and that was the liberal use of CHROME. There is nothing like it. It pretty much jumps off the screen in this photo. With the wire wheels, wide walls and convertible top, this Buick was what they would call back in the day “The Cat’s Meow”.

A Beautiful Example of Ford’s Model A

Jaguar XK-E

When a teenager, I was attracted to foreign sports cars. My Dad bought a Triumph Spitfire and I was able to drive it my Junior and Senior years of High School. That was very special. It was a 1967. I got pretty good at synchronizing the dual SU carburetors and adjusting the valve tappets. For me, the top of the foreign car heap was the Jag XK-E, though. Saturday at the show the hood was not all the way down and I couldn’t find the owner so I didn’t want to mess with it. Regardless you can appreciate its elegant lines. The E Type is considered One of the 100 Most Beautiful Cars of All Time.

1962 Chevrolet Impala SS

I had a great time talking with Ronnie Dick. Shown below at the hood of his 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS, Ronnie recently exchanged the original motor he had in it with the 350 Small Block seen below. I really like the way he painted the valve covers and exhaust headers. He said he used an aluminum paint on the covers. I like that look a lot.

Ronnie Dick & His ’62 Chevy Impala SS

Silver Valve Covers And Headers

1929 Ford Pickup

This sweet lady is continuing a tradition she and her husband started 50 years ago. Her name is Sharon Stocking and she brought her 1929 Ford Pickup. It is spotless. The care she and her husband Gary had for their machines was evident as I watched her carefully remove a grasshopper that had jumped into the bed of this pickup. She said “we never allow anything in that bed”. Nice Car!

Sharon Stocking & Her ’29 Ford Pickup

1957 Chevy

There are other Chevy years that are nice, too, but the Gold Standard of Chevrolet’s are the 1957’s. This Chevy has been in Ralph Sistrunk’s Family for over 50 years. Black with an India Ivory Top, it is as fine an example you will find of the venerable ’57. Ralph’s Wife Lee is laughing because moments before I had tried to position Ralph and Sharon Stocking in front of the Chevy. He politely told me they would pose in front of it if I wanted because they were friends, but would I mind bringing his wife over to take a picture, too?

Ralph said this 283 c.i. Chevy is “pretty much” original although he added Air Conditioning, Disk Brakes, a little extra chrome and lowered it some. The interior was carefully reproduced to be as it was when new.

Ralph and Sharon Stocking With Their Sparkling 1957 Chevrolet

A 2005 Re-Issue Ford GT40

Corvette – I’m guessing 1963

 Food, Flying And Fraternity

Below we see some of the Aviation Notables who showed up for W3. In this case they are cueing up as much to warm up by the heat of the cooker as for the Hot Dogs. Fly-ins are always an opportunity to meet friends and catch up on the latest in the Aviation World. You see guys from Last Week’s Fly-In or a buddy you haven’t seen in years having arrived on new wings. “Wellington Wings and Wheels” had all that in addition to an intense, unspoken undercurrent of competition that drew these friends of the flying world from all points of the compass that day. Some claimed they were not aware of it. Others admitted it only when prodded. But, as fun as it was standing in the cold, damp windy air with one’s friends, it could be posited that many of these aviators braved the elements for the chance to win one of 5 Apple iPads to be given away that day. You had to be present to win the drawing for an iPad. For weeks every pilot there had mentally engraved his name on His New iPad. He had already picked the flight software to install in it. Many had the spot on their console measured and eagerly waiting to become their iPad’s New Home. RAM Mounts were ordered and en route by UPS. (In the picture below, keep that smiling character drinking coffee and wearing the Black Jacket in your sights. He will figure big at the end of the story…)

The Fly-In Food Group: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Coffee

 The Airplanes

Now that we have looked at the “Wheels” part of the show, here are some of the aircraft that were there that day.

A 1979 PITTS S-1S Owned by Jack Seltman of Wichita, Kansas

Pilot/Owner Paul Fiebich (aka: Airbike Ace) Discusses The Fine Points of Aeronautics With Wellington Firemen in Front of His RX40 Airbike.

An RV-7 With an Eye-Catching Paint Scheme Owned By Wellington Native, Dave Faust

This Robinson R44 Gave Rides All Day

The FAIRCHILD PT-23 Owned by the Wichita Chapter of the CAF

An Embraer Phenom – Built in Brazil

A WITTMAN W10 TAILWIND Owned By Mike Logback of McPherson, Kansas

An RV7A Owned By Doyle Reed of Derby, Kansas

Don Wiebe’s Homebuilt MA-2

A Piper PA-32-260 Owned By Larry Anderson Of Wellington, Kansas

Captain Doug Moler’s 1959 Cessna 150

Jimmy Smith Of Butler County Airpark Arrived In His RV-6

Doug Range’s Stinson 108-3

A Cessna C-150E Owned By Ralph Shields Of Udall, Kansas

A Cessna 120 Owned By John Kliewer Of North Newton, Kansas

I Believe This AT-6C(SNJ-4) Is Owned By Mike Flynn Of Wichita, Kansas

The Robinson Sits For A Moment At Idle Loading Passengers

A Cessna 162 Skycatcher Owned By Gary Aviation Of Lawrence, Kansas

 Sailplanes, Too

There were also some sailplanes on display.

The Sailplane In The Foreground Is A SCHEMPP-HIRTH Standard Cirrus Owned By Anthony Condon Of Wichita, Kansas

The Other Sailplane (shown below) Is Specifically Designed For Aerobatics. It Is Owned By Rafael Soldan And Is Called An H101 “SALTO”. More Pictures Of It Can Be Seen Here

An H101 “SALTO”

Hank Weyland And His Wife Terry Pose With Their 1949 PA-11


Jim Wiebe And Son Arrived From High Point, Kansas In Jim’s 1964 PA-30

 Bible Prophesy Comes True At W3

As I said earlier, there were 5 Apple iPads given away to Pilots at the Wellington Wings and Wheels Fly-In that day. The drawings were spaced out from 10 am to 2 pm. At the end of the Fly-In a Pilot’s Name was drawn who wasn’t in attendance. Bummer. If you weren’t there, you couldn’t win. Tension increased as the announcer fished around in the box for the name of the winner of the final iPad to be given out that day.

Digression: I must provide a bit of background so the end of the story will be seen in its proper light. The Apple iPad has been one of the most highly promoted Hi-Tech “Must Haves” in recent history. iPads can do much but they also cost much. Many would love to own one but have resistance to forking out the $500 – $850 necessary for ownership. When the first iPads came out they were released in short supply and eagerly sought after. A couple of years ago I knew one person who owned one. Not only that, this one person came into ownership of the Pad almost as a gift. The guy who had previously owned it used it for a couple of weeks but didn’t want it any more because a newer version was coming out. He bequeathed this nearly new, pristine iPad to his friend for a nominal fee amounting to 1/3 its market value. That lucky recipient was Captain Doug Moler of High Point Estates. I know this because the iPad was his constant companion for over a year. He continually regaled us with the new and wonderful things his elegant flat pieces of titanium and glass could do.

So, I think you know where this is going… Claiming that he didn’t even know they were giving iPads away that day… Winner of the final drawing of the day… Even better… Winner of the Hold Over Drawing done because the announced winner wasn’t present to win… Captain Doug Moler won the the final iPad of the day.

Doug grabs his pad before making his get away

The prize couldn’t have gone to a better guy.

And it just goes to show that Jesus was right when he said “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matthew 13:12

Okay. Maybe a little out of context, but definitely fitting the occasion!

So, the Fly-In was over and everyone left. I would have been the last one to hit the sky but Moler was giving an Aviation Enthusiast a flight around the area as I left. I had 20 mph headwind on the way back to Selby Aerodrome that brought my ground speed down to about 18 mph. Because of the chill it seemed like I had been flying for an hour when my day was brightened. So, I’m struggling along, gritting my teeth in the cold and I look over to see Doug and his Nephew Kevin pull up next to me with full flaps, hanging near stall grinning with the iPad held in triumph. They took the picture below, trimmed up, powered up and disappeared in the distance leaving me floundering in their wake.

Brian & MXL Near Standstill Creeping Northward

You can’t win ’em all. See you next time!

Blue Skies & Tailwinds!™

Brian FitzGerald



  4 Responses to “The Wellington Wings & Wheels Fly-In • Not For The Faint of Heart”

  1. Hi Brian:

    NIce photos and commentary again. I especially enjoyed the cars, and particularly the Buick, which looked like a 1954. It is a car that was familiar to me during high school days. Not that I or my family owned one. As a matter of fact I don’t remember anyone in my town owning a Buick convertible. That car probably cost $2,500 – $3,000 in the mid-50s and few people in the small farm community that I grew up in had that kind of money for a new car. I also was interested to see a photo of Paul Friebich’s Airbike. He seems to have stopped posting to his website. Too bad, I enjoyed reading his blogs too and it was his website that led me to yours. Should you see him tell him that he needs to get back to writing again.

    Don DeWitt

    • Hello Don,
      I’m glad you liked the story. I am working on another from last weekend. My Dad was an Air Force officer. I have seen pictures of a Buick they had when they first got married. I think it was a 1951. They called it “snazzy”.
      I’m not sure what’s up with Fiebich. I do know his plane was down with engine problems most of the summer, though.
      I’m looking forward to your next air adventure.
      See you soon!

  2. What a surprise I have not seen the Super Ryan in 30yrs it brings back very good and tragic memories. this plane was built by Mark Hoskins of Lacey,Wa the Ryan is a pt-22 with a frame mod to accept a 220 Continental radial engine, it was originally white with a silver/gray stripe. I believe that there are 3 other Super Ryans? Thank you for sharing the photos..

    • Dear Mike,
      I’m glad you liked them. I wish I had a better result for my video work that day but the wind was so high I was mostly intent on keeping the camera/tripod from flipping over.
      I just compiled a music video from last Summer’s Fly-in at Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma. There were some real beauties there.