by Gary Shreve

My trip to Clinton this year really started in April, at the Brady, TX fly-in hosted by Wayne Westerman.  I wanted to go, but having just started my own maintenance shop, I didn’t know if I’d be able to go or if being gone that long from the shop would be a smart decision. 

Wayne told me in no uncertain terms to make plans to get to Clinton and everything would work out just fine.  So, just as I have in the past, I took his words to heart and just decided then and there to go.  When I got home, I booked the hotel room and blocked my 152 off of the rental schedule at the flight school where it is leased back.  Wow, that was easy.  Now, I’m really going. 

On June 12th, I got the phone call that no leaseback owner ever wants to get. 

“Gary, your plane was involved in an accident last night.  I don’t really know how bad it is, but the pilot and his wife are okay.  He says the plane is totaled.”  Numb, numb, numb.  I asked if it was something I could fix and ferry back to Arlington.  “I don’t think so.  His exact words were, “ I wadded your airplane up!  Naw, not me, not 962.  How can you damage a 152 on takeoff?  I guess he figured out how to do just that.  Now, my Clinton plans went up in smoke.

A Sad Day for My 1979 Cessna 152

As I posted away on the forum about my loss (airplane), the sympathy that was extended was definitely comforting.  However, club member Jim Lewis of Keller, TX, added something in an email.  “If you want to take 150DP to Clinton, you’re welcome to.”  What, you mean you don’t really know me from Adam, and you’re gonna let me take your plane halfway across the country?  Thanks, man, but are you sure?  Well, he wasn’t kidding.  The rest is history.

Wednesday morning, I loaded my stuff into the plane about 2 hours later than I had originally planned.  I hate running late.  But, worse than that, I hate rushing a flying trip.  I always seem to leave something behind that I regret.  This year was no exception.  Out to the run up hole, and after I had completed my run up and was ready to set the GPS…Where in the world are my AOPA Airport Guide and flight planning papers…Dang nabbit…back to the hangar.  Once finally underway, I called Regional Approach and asked for Class B direct downtown Dallas, then direct on course 011 to Henryetta, OK.  As usual, a squawk code and a class b clearance followed with “approved as requested.”  So, just for the trip log, I was able to get several nice photos of Dallas as I passed by.  Leaving Dallas, I shot a picture out the rear window as the clouds from hurricane Emily were swirling up from down south. 

Next stop, Henryetta, OK.  Out for a stretch, then on to Iola, KS.  Man, was it hot and windy there.  I bought as much 2.58/gal avgas as I could before adding 2 bags of cheetos and a Sprite to the tab.  Off again, headed for Brookfield, MO.  Enroute to Brookfield, I contacted FSS and asked about the Clinton weather.  Storms had moved through earlier in the day, and I didn’t want to tangle with them.  FSS said they were well to the north and east of me and Clinton was blue skies and was forecasted to remain so.  They weren’t lying and the rest of the trip on to Brookfield for fuel and then on into Clinton were great, easy weather, and a kickin’ tailwind.  I had to fly overhead a little and get a picture of the airport just prior to my arrival.

Clinton Airport AKA Cessna 150-152 Mecca

From the number of planes there already, I was thinking I was late and was missing something.  On the ground, I was ushered into my parking spot like it was there waiting on me for the past week or so.

That’s when I met ED!  Man, I’ve gotta tell you…  On the forum, I develop a mental image of what the participants look like based on my perception of the personalities exhibited in their posts.  Well, Ed blew that image all the way back to Waco.  Holy cow, I thought I’d somehow warped back a few years…Anyway…

My Buddy, Ed Pataky
Quickly got my things situated and off to the dinner at Mike’s, the airport manager, parent’s restaurant.  What a nice little restaurant.  I’ve been to Germany before and this was just like visiting again.

Club Meal at Hillside Stables German Restaurant

I ended up canceling my hotel reservations so I could camp out at the airport.  On the first night, Lori and Royson loaned me one of their sleeping bags and a pillow so I could rest my weary head.  Then, on Thursday, Tom Kozel loaned me his tent, mattress pad and sleeping bag to use for the duration.  Tom also had a hotel reservation, but had the camping stuff just in case…I never asked him ‘just in case of what?’  I had more fun camping there than I could have imagined.

Gary's Home Away From Home

The next few days of flying competitions were some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever spent at an airport.  The fellowship among the attendees was noticeably more tangible there. There was more spontaneous flying, low passes, formation flying, and just plain fun flying out sight seeing this year.  Rumor has it that Wayne and Dale weren’t just sightseeing up the river, they were Racing!  Despite their grey hairs, they still have a little competitive spirit left…

 I had the pleasure of flying with Michael Bauer on Friday, and Jeff Hersom on Saturday.  They got to try to hit Ed with the nerf toys.  Luckily for Ed, I can’t fly good enough for anyone to get a decent shot.  Next year, I’ll just hit him with the nose wheel.  Exact a little payback for him making me hit the dirt during one of his passes.

Good Times; After Dark Underwing

I wish I had brought my guitar.  Ed Pataky was generous enough to let me play his every now and then.  Next year, I’m mailing one or hauling one.  There’s just no way I’m NOT having a guitar next year.  Way too much fun.  That, combined with frequent B-double E-double R-U-N’s, and  no kidding, that’s what a get together ought to be.  FUN.  Every night, we played Ed’s guitar until the strings were smoking (or was that Ed?) or 4 in the morning, whichever came first.  Yes, each morning seemed to arrive a little earlier than the last,  but each day was filled with more fun than ought to be legal.

During the Luau, I couldn’t let Jeff Hersom have the pattern all to himself, so I joined him.  He flew his plane while I was flying 150DP.  He flew close enough to me to read the brand of tires I had while taking pictures at the same time.  I don’t know if I was scared or impressed, but it was a total blast.  Can that boy fly or what…  When we got back to the airport, we joined up with Royson for a lap or two.  Royson captured the image of 150DP that graces the Clinton DVD during one of the trips around the pattern.

On Saturday, Jeff and I decided quite late to give the scavenger hunt a try.  So, off we went, with Jeff flying and me looking and writing.  What an enjoyable time.  I had to tell Jeff we just had to read the signs, not put tire tracks on them…  It was enjoyable because if we got in trouble, he was PIC!

Jeff and Gary Muster for the Aerial Scavenger Hunt

As luck would have it, we landed right as the line for the banquet dinner was winding down.  Jeff coasted to a stop in front of the hangar and we ran to find Lori to give her our results.  Just don’t ever ask what we said we saw in the quarry that is spelled with a Q…

Gary, Clyde & Lori

The banquet truly is the culmination of all the week’s adventures and experiences.  There is no finer display of that than the movie that Robbie Culver produced in three days.

All of the awards were humbly accepted by their recipients.  And the award to Royson and Lori made plenty of eyes water.  But then, again, Lori cries at everything...

It was kind of sad to see Sunday morning finally arrive.   Ed and I, after becoming the best of friends, decided to fly home together.  We departed after saying goodbye to those up and around about 8 O’clock.  On departure, we just had to buzz the parking area just to say another goodbye.  Then, off we were for Texas.

Headwinds, headwinds, headwinds.  What I gained on the trip up, I lost twice over on the way home.  It seems that we flew for an hour-and-a-half and only covered 75 miles.  It’s gonna be a long ride home.  Then, just after leaving Clinton, the right door popped open and out went my sectional.  Luckily, I had my GPS and a WAC chart.  Ed had a chart, too, so we conspired together to outwit the winds, however unsuccessfully.

One leg led to another and to another until, as we departed McAlester, OK, the sun set in the west and we arrived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area after 10 O’clock, pm.  He followed me through the class b shelves and lateral limits until we finally landed at Arlington.

Wow.  It only took me 7.1 hours to get to Clinton, and 11.2 to get back home.  We were beat.  I tied down 150DP outside on the tiedown and put Ed’s plane in the hangar for the night.  Monday morning, we had a nutritious McDonald’s breakfast before heading to Ennis for fuel.  After saying our goodbyes, Ed and I departed from Ennis.  He headed south for Houston, and I headed back to Arlington to get back to work. 

“The time of your life” is an appropriate title for the Clinton 2005 DVD.  I’m looking forward to next year already.  As good as it might be, I don’t think it’ll be able to hold a candle to the fun and camaraderie we enjoyed this year.  But, with the creative genius Royson and Lori hide and unleash at the most unexpected times, we’ll just have to wait and see.  I’ll be there.

Gary Shreve
Mansfield, Texas

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