The Cleveland Aviators Aero Club invited us to attend their fly-in on July 2, 2011. We contacted the organizers and asked if we could come by and sell tickets, and they said sure!
The summary of the day was that it was HOT! However, that didn’t stop the people from coming out and enjoying the fly-in. There was a flour bombing competition, along with a spot landing competition.
Museum volunteers Rebecca Carroll, Max Tribolet, and Blair McFarlain set out in N8175B from Hobby. Since IAH was landing to the west and we had arrivals coming in from the northeast, ATC routed us to the south of Hobby and to the south of Ellington. It was a nice clear day, and we got to see the bay!
We were routed well east of the landings at IAH, but still got to see a few of the planes landing as they passed overhead.
Once we arrived, we met up with Devon, one of the organizers, and got set up to sell. We ran into a few friends, Phil Cushing in his white & blue Cessna 120, as well as Gary Evans, of Coats & Evans in the company car, Twin Commander N799CE.
The trip was a great success with us selling 13 tickets in all! Cleveland is a close destination, and the less we spend in fuel, the more money we make for the museum! We even ran into one gentleman who had already bought a ticket a few days before, and it turns out that Rebecca was the one he spoke to! Small world!
After all the festivities were over, we packed up and headed out. We checked Airnav.com for the cheapest fuel prices, and found that Baytown was it. We took off, and after dodging a small rain cell, we made our way down to Baytown. When we arrived, a line guy offered to help us fuel at the self-serve pump. He was very nice, and said that the fuel is available 24/7 but if they’re there during the day, they will come out and help you fuel. We definitely appreciated the hospitality, and the cheap fuel, and will certainly be back. It was only a short trip back to Hobby from there.
For the second year in a row, the museum’s raffle plane was invited to attend the Ranger Air Show. We were honored to be a part of the festivities again this year.
Museum volunteers Gene “The ticket selling machine” Bursick, Max Tribolet, and Blair McFarlain were in attendance and all flew up in the raffle plane.
We started out early on Saturday morning, we arrived at Hooks airport right at sunrise, but had to wait about an hour for the clouds to clear up enough for a VFR departure. Once we did, we called up Houston departure and got VFR flight following up to F23.
(The plane is normally kept at Hobby, but we recently had an annual done on the plane, and our mechanic is up at Hooks. We hadn’t had a chance to move the plane back to Hobby yet, so we just operated out of Hooks. Thanks to Tomball Jet for the hangar space!)
We requested 6500 for our altitude, and it took about 20 minutes to get there. We were immediately cleared through the bravo airspace and turn to our on course heading of 310.
Gene & I were up front on the way up there and Max flew up front on the way back.
Once we leveled off, Max took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep since we got up so early!
Most of our trip looked like this, with widely scattered clouds, but about 3/4 of the way up, it cleared up completely, but was getting hotter, and got a bit hazy.
Our raffle plane is a very capable VFR aircraft, and flies great! It also has the Horton STOL kit, which makes takeoffs and landings very smooth!
It includes (among other things) a panel-mounted Garmin GNC 360XL VFR GPS. The Garmin 396 shown in the photo above is NOT included in the raffle, however, you DO get the panel mount that is attached to the plane, so if the winner has a 396, they’re set!
We started our descent down from 6500 to pattern altitude about 20 miles out, and canceled flight following. We could hear some chatter on 122.9 from pretty far out, but it was at another airport. When we arrived, we were the only plane in the pattern. We landed on the grass strip and it was smooth as could be. They maintain the field well there at Ranger!
When we landed Ranger organizer Jared Calvert asked if we were with the museum, and directed us to a reserved spot at show center! We taxied back and shut down. We spun the plane around by hand (not as easy on grass as it is on concrete!) and started setting up for the day.
We were Greeted by Jared Calvert, the organizer for the event.
We met many great people, sold some tickets and had a great time checking out all the cool planes!
Our friend Dennis Price was on hand to photograph the event. Dennis is a staple at many of the local airshows around Texas and is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet! Once he downloads all the photos, he gives out CD’s of the photos for all to enjoy. Thank you, Dennis for all your hard work!
We enjoyed the airshow performance with a front row view, sitting under our wing! The performances were great, and I only wish it was me up there in those planes!
After the performances, many people started up their planes and headed home. Here are some photos from the departures.
Pretty soon, it was time to go. We thanked Jared for his hospitality and then started up. We headed southeast fighting a headwind, and headed for Stephenville to fuel up. After a short break in the air conditioning at Stephenville, we got back into the plane and headed back home. We called up Fort Worth center and got flight following all the way back to Hooks.
It was a great day of flying, and selling tickets. Jared invited us to come back again next year, and we look forward to it!
Saturday, May 29, 2010, Blair McFarlain and I flew the museum’s 1958 Cessna 172 raffle plane from Hooks Airport (DWH) to Ranger, TX (F23) to sell raffle tickets at the Ranger Fly-in and Airshow. Drew Coats and fellow museum volunteer Gene Bursick also flew up in Drew’s 172.
We started out flying as a flight of two airplanes, which basically tells ATC that you’re going to fly in formation and only one airplane will get a squawk code and talk to to ATC. The other plane flies in somewhat close proximity and just listens in on the ATC channel. We weren’t flying in close formation, but we planned to stay within one mile of each other and maintain visual contact. This all worked well at the beginning with me working the radios for our flight, Blair flying the raffle plane, Drew flying his plane, and Gene hanging on for the ride. But, shortly after takeoff, we figured out that we made a mistake in our pre-flight formation briefing. We did not specify the airspeeds we would be climbing at, nor did we brief the power settings we would be using in cruise. So, Blair and I climbed at a much slower forward speed than Drew did, so he and Gene wound up leaving us in the dusk. Before we knew it, we were 3 miles in trail. No harm, though. Drew just called up ATC, told them he lost visual contact with us, and asked for an individual squawk code and flight following as a single ship. ATC then confirmed that we still had them in sight and told us to maintain visual separation.
This worked out well for the rest of the trip. Once we leveled off in cruise, we were at a faster speed than Drew, so we caught up quickly and we both kept an eye out for each other. Blair and I switched off on who was flying the airplane, and I stayed in control of the radios. The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful, except for a couple of notable things:
First, after we passed College Station, TX, there was a lull in the radio traffic. I keyed up the radio and said, “Houston Center, Cessna eight-five-foxtrot, do you have time for a question?” They replied that they always had time for our questions (we had just asked them about an abandoned airfield a few minutes earlier that didn’t appear to be charted as abandoned). I told him that we were raffling off the airplane that we were in to raise money for The 1940 Air Terminal Museum and it could be his for $50. I said that I could give him the phone number if he’s interested. He called back and said, “When you put it like that, how could I resist?” So I gave him the phone number and he said he’d call and get one!
Second, near Waco, TX, there’s the small town of Crawford. Just outside of Crawford is a ranch owned by former President George W. Bush. When he became president, a Prohibited Area (airspace you are not allowed to go into) went into effect over the ranch up to an altitude of 5,000 feet. Well, we were at 6,500ft. as our cruising altitude, so we got to fly directly over the top of his ranch. We didn’t really see anything – just a couple of buildings in the middle of the woods, but it was still pretty cool to fly directly over the top of the Bush Ranch.
Anyway, we made our way up to Ranger and I made the requisite calls on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. There was surprisingly little traffic there when we arrived, and we came right in and Blair made a nice landing on the grass strip. We had beaten Drew there by a couple of minutes, and I guess our timing was perfect because there was significantly more traffic in the pattern for his arrival than for ours. We told the first marshaller we came to that we were the raffle plane for the museum and that we were supposed to park in front of the hangar. He radioed ahead to his buddies and we were guided right into the proper spot.
The fly-in itself was a lot of fun and very successful. There were probably close to 100 planes there of all different types – anything from powered parachutes and trikes to a Beech 18 with tri-gear and everything in-between. There was a gorgeous Cessna 195 that was parked right next to us (and I mean right next to us – there were less than three inches separating our wingtips. I had a brief discussion with the marshaller about that one). I told the owner that he had to move his airplane – he was making ours look bad by comparison! j/k 😉
We set up shop and started selling tickets. Gene (the selling machine) led the charge and got quite a few sales. At around 1:00p, the field closed for an airshow, and Drew, Gene, and I retired to the hangar to have some BBQ and chat about the raffle and museum stuff. Blair stayed outside near the flightline and worked his camera shutter to the bone. Right around 3:00p, the airshow ended and the airport re-opened. Everyone ran to their planes and thus started an exodus of biblical proportions. Planes were taxiing out and taking off left and right! Blair’s poor camera couldn’t catch a break! It was quite the show.
We stuck around, selling tickets to the stragglers until around 5:00p or so. We then packed up and loaded into our planes. Once again, Blair was in the left seat as PIC for this leg, and I was in the right seat working the radios. We didn’t even try the flight of two thing this time, as we were parked so far from each other. Blair made a very nice soft-field takeoff and we took up an almost due-east heading to go to Stephenville (KSEP) to fuel up before heading back to DWH.
For the flight to Stephenville, we took up a cruise altitude of 3,500ft. We decided not to use flight following for this leg because of the short distance (only 30nm or so). We cruised along, over the top of a windmill farm in that area, and enjoyed the 80-deg outside air temp at that altitude. You know you’ve been REALLY hot on the ground when 80-deg at altitude feels nice! We got to SEP, overflew the airport, and circled around to enter the downwind leg of the pattern to come around and make our landing. As we entered the pattern, we heard Drew calling that he was in range, and we heard a flight of two aircraft call that they were coming in behind us. I had heard this flight of two calling when we left Ranger as well, so we weren’t the only ones who decided this would make a good gas stop!
Blair made another smooth landing and rolled to the end of the runway as the heat coming off the blacktop caused us to float pretty far before touching down. We taxied in to the ramp and parked in one of the spots there as we weren’t sure if the fuel was self-serve or truck. Turns out, it was self-serve. The flight of two that landed behind us was a Cessna 140 and a Christen Eagle, and they taxied right up to the pumps. We hooked up the towbar and pushed our plane over there in time for Blair to grab his camera and get a couple good shots of Drew’s landing. We struck up a conversation with the pilots in the flight of two, and it turns out it was a father, son, and daughter-in-law. The dad had flown the Christen Eagle all the way from Prescott, AZ to attend this fly-in with his son and daughter-in-law, who live in the area. They were some nice people with some beautiful planes. We chatted as they topped off their tanks, and we lent them a hand with pushing their planes around in front of the pump.
They fired up and took off, and we filled up our tanks as well. After we were topped off, Blair and I loaded back up into the plane, this time with me in the left seat as PIC and Blair in the right as SIC and radio operator. We taxied out, did a run-up, and held short of the runway since the local jump plane had just announced jumpers away. Unfortunately, the landing zone was behind us, so we couldn’t see when they landed. After a couple of minutes, we figured we were safe, and the jump plane said that they should be on the ground by now, so we launched out with caution. We climbed up to 5,500ft. and had a nice and smooth ride back to DWH with air temperatures of about 60 deg, which felt awesome after being on the ground in 95 deg heat all day. The flight was largely uneventful, save for my window popping open a couple of times. After the third time or so, I figured out how to latch it properly and it wasn’t an issue for the rest of the trip.
We descended for our landing into Hooks and when we got down to 2,000ft., the temperature difference was noticeable. We called Hooks in sight and ATC told us to contact the tower. We contacted them at about 13nm out, and they gave us a clearance to land at 10nm out since we were #1 to the field. Another plane actually called in on a 10nm straight-in approach before we got to the field, but thankfully they were far enough out that we were able to land before them. I did my first landing in this airplane, which turned out pretty good. We turned off on the high-speed taxiway and were cleared to taxi all the way to our parking area. Here’s the video that Blair shot of my landing:
All told, we sold 21 tickets, plus the one to the Air Traffic Controller from Houston Center. It was a great day of flying, and thanks to Blair for the great rides up to Ranger and over to Stephenville, and for the greeat insight into this particular plane on our flight to Hooks. Thanks to Drew for the opportunity to go, and to Gene for being such a great salesman. I can’t wait to do it again sometime!
BTW – I have to say that this airplane is sweet! It is one of the most perfectly-rigged airplanes I’ve ever flown. When you get up to altitude, you just trim it out and let go – it doesn’t drift or lean or anything. The winner is going to be one happy camper! Get your tickets by calling the museum today! 713-454-1940.
Sunday morning, Francisco & I got up, ate breakfast, checked out and expected to catch the “bus”.
It was supposed to leave at 8:30 and we were downstairs at 8:00. I will say the Holiday Inn Express had an excellent breakfast buffet both days.
Anyway, we finally called the ranch, and no one answered. We gave them more time, but no one answered. We finally had to call on our friends who took us home on Friday night to see if they could give us a ride.
They agreed, even though they weren’t planning on going back on Sunday! They were in the hotel right next door, and so we walked over and hopped in the suburban.
They were very gracious, and drove us right up to the plane!
It was about 9:45 at this point, and everyone was leaving. So, we decided to pre-flight and pack up, and head on home. One last guy walked up to us and asked “Are you guys still selling tickets.” To which I said “Yes Sir!”
Our official ticket count was 38 for the trip. I know what you’re thinking… 7 on Friday, and 30 on Saturday doesn’t make 38. Well, we ended up giving our friends who gave us a ride, a ticket for their troubles. They were very appreciative and we will keep in touch with them, they live up in Oklahoma.
As people started to depart, we gathered up all our stuff, and stuffed it into the plane. It’s amazing we got all that stuff in the back of the plane and back seat!
We took off using only about half the runway. It was a very fun trip, and one I intend to repeat next year.
We had only used 1/4 of the fuel on board to get up there, so I decided to fly straight to Hooks where the museum has an account that we can get the plane filled up, and also get some food, before heading back to Hobby. We can get fuel at Hobby, but it’s cheaper at Hooks & West Houston.
After we ate lunch, we headed down to Hobby, and flew the “Rick Sharpe” approach into Hobby, which is to come into runway 12, and then switch to runway 17. It was gusting to about 22 knots, so I decided to do a no-flap landing, and came in pretty good, right on the centerline, and even still only used half the runway, mostly because of the headwind. (I’ve got video of this too, will post it soon!)
We taxied to the hangar and put the plane away. We also spent a little time cleaning it and wiping the bugs off of it before going home.
We plan to be at Reklaw again next year!
A big THANKS to David & Marcia Mason for letting us attend. We had a blast!
On Saturday morning, we got to sleep in late! PJ, Mark and Bernard drove up early, and got to the airport at about 8am.
PJ dropped Mark & Bernard off, and headed up to the hotel to come pick up Cisco & I.
Once we got there, we helped them get set up, and started to watch everyone arrive.
There were lots of campers. Once the morning got going, many people were arriving and flying and going around the pattern, making low high speed passes. It was fun! I could have just sat there all day watching it!
There were many different types of planes there. This one looked like fun!
Here are our intrepid volunteers, doing what they do best!
The Antonov AN-2 made an appearance around lunch time, and did a few fly-bys. It would come down low and slow, and smoke the place up! the entire runway turned white for just a minute, it was awesome!
Clint was also flying around with his other Cub buddies.
It was a fun day of watching planes and selling tickets. We sold 30 tickets on Saturday!
Once it started getting dark (and cold) we packed up everything for the night. PJ, Mark and Bernard were ready to head back. PJ drove us back up into Jacksonville for dinner at a mexican restaurant and then dropped us off at the hotel.
PJ and crew then loaded up for the long trip back to Houston. Francisco & I decided to watch the video I had got from Friday and Saturday. I’m still processing the video, and will have it posted soon!
Cisco had confirmed that the “bus” would be running in the morning…