Last summer, God blessed our family with a wonderful trip to a place where time stands still. I have been able a few times in my life to make the journey from Texas to Antique Airfield in the Iowa heartland (near Blakesburg). Unless you've been there before, you just can't imagine it. The place has a mystique about it that is indescribable. It's the closest I know to flight as it was years ago in a simpler age, with fewer restrictions, and with the camaraderie and spirit of goodwill among men and women of aviation. This trip was especially nice for me. Partly because it had been 17 years since my last trip there. But mostly because I got to share it with Leann, Lon, Carolyn, Travis, Hannah, and Rachel.
Leann and I flew up in Lon's '39 Taylorcraft. The first day started off a bit rocky with weather concerns all the way up through Oklahoma. We made fuel stops in Decatur TX, McAlester Oklahoma as the weather declined all the way, dodging rain showers the best way you can at 85 mph. We finally gave up the push in Vinita Oklahoma. By the time we landed, there were small Thundershowers to the east, north, and west. McDonalds' golden arches awaited us there and gave us a great place to rest while the ground crew in the family Suburban caught up with us.
Our crew arrived and helped us secure the airplane for the night and it was off to the hotel.
The next day didn't look much good at first. A line of storms was pushing through but seemed almost stalled to the north. By 1 pm we made the decision to give it a try following the highways. As it turned out the farther north and east we went, the better it looked. And before long... the days of scorching hot Texas summer were gone and we were in the most beautiful cloudless sky one can imagine. This weather held for the entire remaining time of our trip, adding to the blessing it already was. Here are some photos... including the Missouri Church pond... an enormous back-hoe used for strip-mining coal in the wetlands of Eastern Kansas... the Missouri River... and pretty soon.... Blakesburg!
Three days are barely enough. Here are just a few of the sites, including some unforgetable moments like Lon's first open cockpit ride in a Biplane.
Starting home, though somewhat sad, was another adventure in itself. More sites of the beautiful midwest USA and fun along the way like the "Three" thicket in northern Oklahoma. We even found a new use for Lon's old stopwatch holder on the instrument panel. Max altitude for the trip was 3,500 ft. MSL. It was cooler there, but the best scenery was at 2,000 ft. A couple of stops and then we stayed the night in Adair Oklahoma with friends Jim Markle and his family who sure put on the hospitality for us. The next day... Leann traded spots with Lon who flew the rest of the trip with me. Lon's a good pilot and it was a rest for me to sit in the right seat for a change. The closer we got toward home, the realities of life set in. I needed to make it to work the next day. The weather was not cooperating. Visibility deteriorated to a point it was no longer safe to continue past Decatur TX. Luckily we have a friend there who offered a cozy spot in his hangar for the plane. Our ground crew met us a few hours later and we drove through rain to make it home. Lon and I drove back up a couple weeks later to bring the little airplane home. It was nice to have the airplane safely tucked back in at Tick Hill.
Somehow, it seems that God gave us beautiful weather and blessed us all the way for this trip. I think anyone who attended Blakesburg in 2007 would agree. Since my first trip as a kid in 1975 that place has hardly changed at all. The kids have been asking to go back this year... but we may have to miss it for 2008... we'll see.
To leave you with a touch of the feeling of Blakesburg... click on the following link to see a wonderful photo montage put together by Brent Taylor of the Antique Airplane Association. And don't forget to visit the AAA website... http://www.antiqueairfield.com/