by Gordon Ellis, aka Tinman

I left Cheyenne  Wyoming about 6:10AM Tuesday enroute to Greeley, CO to meet Joel Keister (Oldtimer) and Bruce Spencer (Batman) and of course Joel's sidekick Fury IV. About 10 miles from Greeley I heard Joel calling in at 5 miles out so it looked promising as our plan called for. Shortly after arriving Batman called in and the three of us went for breakfast while the planes were being fueled with $1.80/gal 100L for their breakfast.

We left Greeley enroute to North Platte, NE as a flight of three with me, Tinman, as the flight leader since I had two radios that could be used for reception and with the flip of a switch talk to another entity like Denver Center. We used 122 .75 between us where as last year we used it and 122.85 both. For those contemplating formation flight only the leader will squawk the code issued by ATC. The rest of the flight should be on standby. Refueling at North Platte was only for Oldtimer and Tinman as Batman rejected the thought. So off we went into the wild blue yonder enroute to Columbus, NE where Tinman and Oldtimer reacquainted themselves with the wonderful folks that treated us so well there last year. Batman did fill his trusty steed and almost made a convert out of Tinman. He actually, flying the same speed as the stock 150s of Oldtimer and Tinman, used 3.X gallons less than we did from Greeley to Columbus.

We then went to Audubon, Iowa and landed at a truly quiet but delightfully nice non congested airstrip at about 3:00PM. The consensus was to spend the night there so Charles, who has managed the airport since about 1948, gave us the keys to the courtesy car and we slipped into the tiny town of Audubon. Oldtimer selected the spot and we went into the  Cafe. I ordered a hamburger and Oldtimer and Batman ordered meals. I do recall that Batman ordered hot roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, and asked what kind of vegetables were available. He was told the vegetables were only for the lunch meal and by the way "We are out of mashed potatoes-will French fries be OK" 'I guess a can of green beans were opened but Batman had no gravy what-so-ever. In all fairness though, he had so much roast beef that Oldtimer could have fed Fury for a week or two.

Camped out under the wings of the plane and just laid on top of my sleeping bag and amazingly had no mosquitoes, About 3:30 AM a fox wandered by about 50 feet away but ran off when I talked to it. Next morning the visibility was 1 1/2 miles in mist. Both Oldtimer and Batman are instrument rated but not Tinman.  

Being a product mostly of the western plains and 100 mile visibility I was concerned and glad they waited me out.  From Audubon to Clinton I played Kojack from the previous year. Off 10 degrees left, correct 20 degrees to the right while gaining 200 feet in terrain avoidance. Then dropping 500 feet to compensate while looking at my two GPS 92s that were not in agreement. (I had that corrected today from the Garmin folks. Not a GPS problem but a Tinman problem). We finally went up to 9,500 ft to get above the haze. Pulled into Clinton with the flight leader, yours truly, landing tail end Charlie. I think Fury needed a bathroom break quite badly as there was no dilly dallying around for Oldtimer to get on the ground followed immediately by Batman. Another Clinton formation completed successfully. You folks that haven't done this are really missing something. The camaraderie in formation flying culminates in putting the icing on the cake at Clinton.

On Saturday, I was sitting back at the booth selling things like T shirts, C-150/152 decals, film, belly drains, books, ( Henry Kisor had just personally autographed my book "The Flight of the Gin Fizz") and other items and meeting so many of you folks at Clinton. Along came my friend and fellow Compadre Joel: "Gordon, we need you for the Bum Squadron. We have 5 planes but need to have a sixth." "Joel, there must be someone else out there. I am really enjoying myself here at the booth."

Five minutes later Joel comes back and says "I can't find anyone Gordon." "OK Joel, I will be Bum 3 but I do not have a package delivery specialist." Three more minutes and Joel comes back with Mark and Paula Loetscher, they sit down and Joel emphatically states "Paula will be the package delivery specialist for you as Bum 3 (motto: From Coast to Coast we Bum the Most). "OK Paula you have to have a top gun name like Joel is "Oldtimer", Royson is "Kojack", Bruce Spencer is "Batman ", and last year we had a husband wife team of "Coyote" and "Roadrunner." "Gordon what is your name?" " My name is "Tinman"." (I may be embellishing this at this point but!!) It went something like this with artistic prerogatives:

Paula clicked her imaginary ruby red slippers together she said " Ok, then I'm "Dorothy" and I am going to be your bombardier on Bum 3." (Paula was also the package delivery specialist for the Mach 5 team, with her great husband Mark Loetscher.)

 You folks from MO are super but do you all have the same first name for the guys as Mark? Sorry Joel, we left Toto, I mean Fury 4, when we accomplished our kamikaze mission. Now the truth to the pudding and this requires patience for the reader. "Saddle Up and get your Formation into the Bum Squadron." After a short while: "Bum Leader ready," " Bum 1 behind Bum Leader," " Bum 2 Behind Bum, 1 Space --------------------- "Bum 3 are you there?????" Bum 3 had several problems. After removing everything from the storage area into the tent, we finally got "Dorothy" into the usually easy Wag Aero shoulder harness. Tinman then got into the old bench seat and the bench moved catywampus for those of you familiar with the seat Two notches left and three right. Out of the plane, readjust the back bench portion and back in again. It DID IT AGAIN. "Dorothy" seems a little, but not a lot apprehensive at this point. One more out of the plane trip. Made it OK and now my shoulder harness. Wag Aero didn't leave too much to spare for a 240 pounder but after sucking in the gut to relieve my internal diaphragm success was accomplished.

OH NO!!! The key is in my left blue jean pocket. BUM 3 are you there_____ ??? Undo belt and reach in left pocket--- no key!!!!! Try right pocket----- no key!!! Out to tent and a mad toss of everything in desperation. No Key. OH!!!! I have a spare located under an inspection plate for just such emergencies. You know, those emergencies that prevent you from looking like a complete fool even though you have already established that fact. OK, to the inspection plate with my ever trusty Leatherman- a few screws out and the almost complete failure.

No, that's not Madonna's Bra on the seat, but rather two "skullcap" spinners that for various reasons have retired from service on Gordon's planeWrong inspection plate. By now I am sure "Dorothy" is wondering what in the world she is doing sitting in N271D. I can see her face saying this has got to be "Scarecrow" needing BRAINS not a heart. He is really in disguise-maybe I had best get out of here. Got the right inspection plate and after replacing the other finally undo it to get the spare keys. OH, OH, I did it again. Still not the right inspection plate. (Yes Wayne, don't you hate it when you get an old man going?)

Next step, "Joel we are not going- I can't start this with no keys." "Oldtimer" whips out a set of his spare keys that fit mine (and probably every Cessna ever built.)

Gordon's always patient hat shelf crew."Dorothy " understands completely that everything in the land of OZ is ridiculous anyway and settles back down. What a blessing as I was so sure the Wicked Witch of the West was going to catch up to us-which she did when we hit the fantail of the USS Catywampus along with 19 other in- proficient Navy planes. Makes me glad I am retired USAF materiel. By the way my aircraft keys fell out into the grass when I closed the door on the first bench seat fiasco.

What  really convinced "Dorothy"  that I was the "Scarecrow" lacking brains was the fact that my car keys with a spare set of N271D attached was in the glove box 18 inches away all this time.

Tinman and Dorothy in Bum 3 fire it up."Bum 3 is ready to go in sequence." "Bum 4 where are you?????" "Bum 4??? Royson, where are you and your bombardier Lori??" "We will catch right up after Bum 5. Just a little bit out of sequence, you know, you can't expect the impossible like being on time can you." Thanks Bum 4, you saved Bum 3 from complete disgrace -- but not by much.

By the way, you folks who missed Clinton 2002 missed a truly wonderful time. What I just described took place in just two hours on Saturday. And Mark and Paula, you two truly belong together. I really value meeting and knowing you both like so many others over the past two years. However Mark, I might need to borrow that "Dorothy" again next year if you both are there. Perhaps we can borrow Toto (Fury 4 ) from "Oldtimer" or Blue from Dana. You kids are GREAT.

Reliving the day's events at the Banquet.Just maybe, just, just, just, maybe we can find a scarecrow with brains in all that corn surrounding the airport. It would be a definite help in locating keys in a pinch or getting "Dorothy's" release point over the target. And to all, my apologies if this seems too long. I just had to get it out. Clinton was so much better this year and believe me, last year was truly great also. The Chamber of Commerce there (Hi Julie!) and the Mayor who visited us both years bodes very well for Clinton. And I, like many others, appreciate their interest and help with our Cessna 150-152 annual Fly-In.

Gordon Ellis, aka Tinman
Cheyenne, Wyoming

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