by Wayne Westerman

For the past four years July has meant Clinton to me. My first Cessna 150-152 Club National fly in was in 2002. I missed the '01 shindig due to my ignorance of the existence of the Club. I was greatly impressed with the organization and execution of the '02 fly in. I have been going to conventions and exhibitions for four decades and the Clinton affair was at the very top of the heap when it came to planning and organization. Flying home from the '02 fly in I gave a good deal of thought to how the fly in could be made better or more fun. I just couldn't think of a thing. However, over the years the affair just gets better and better.

My now annual trek to Clinton did not start off all that well this year.

The combination of summer heat and a strange condition that has the winds aloft decreasing with altitude caused me to plan an earlier than normal departure. By leaving Midland at 5:00 AM rather than an my usual 6:00 AM I would have an extra hour to enjoy the very strong low level tail winds, before the temperature drove me to a higher altitude.

Tuesday afternoon was spent fueling, loading and pre-flighting the Sport Hawk. (The one thing that was not checked during the preflight inspection was the landing light.)

With all cargo stowed and tied down and a through inspection all that was left to do on Wednesday morning was to drag the plane out of the hanger, fire up the engine and head north east.

I arrived at the Sport Hawk's nest at 4:45AM with a full cup of coffee and a ton of anticipation for the trip to Clinton and the best flying event in aviation. The Sport Hawk signaled her enthusiasm by roaring to life on the first blade. Cockpit lights on, radio lights on, instrument lights on, oil pressure up, voltage 14.1 volts, GPS up and running with a course direct from KMDD to KCWI, NO landing light.

My landing light seems to be afraid of the dark. It always works just fine when I turn it on to check it in the day light but let it get dark and it refuels to light up. Since this isn't my first rodeo I reached in the passenger's seat rear pocket and grabbed my 3 D-cell Mag-Light, stuck my left arm out the open window and made my way to the departure end of 16 at KMDD. Just a quick run up and I would be on my to KCWI. Mag drop on right and left less than 100 PPM, carb heat drop 75 RPM, oil pressure good, volts 12.0. What the heck? Recycle the master switch, volts to 13.2 but back to 11.9 within a couple of seconds. After a couple of more unfruitful recycle attempts it is back to the hanger.

It almost had to be the voltage regulator and it threw seven between the hanger and the end of the runway. Fortunately I had an only slightly used voltage regulator on my parts shelf. I stuck the Sport Hawk in the hanger headfirst and positioned the cowl directly under the only source of illumination in the hanger, a 100 watt light bulb 22 feet up in the rafters. (It really doesn't get darker in the hanger when I turn the pitiful little light on but it seems like it.) The ceiling light gave enough illumination to remove the top cowl but a pin light was needed to remove the old voltage regulator and install the new (almost) regulator. I really think that the voltage regulator is the only item under the bonnet that is actually easy to remove and install but nothing is easy in the pre-dawn darkness.

After a short struggle the replacement regulator was installed the moment of truth was at hand. Fire up the engine (not an easy task with all fingers crossed) and watch the voltmeter. Hot dog, 14.2 volts and holding.

Mount the top cowl, push the plane back out of the hanger, close the hanger doors and go to Clinton. But my misadventures were not over yet.

I have been flying out of Midland Air Park since 1972 and know it like the back of my hand, in the daylight. In the dark it is a completely different proposition. The ramp is DARK, no lighting what so ever. Using my Mag-Light for guidance I managed to taxi off the ramp and put the Sport Hawk's nose wheel right into a Prairie Dog hole. How dumb can a grown man be? Climb out, push down on the tail and back the plane back and around 90°. Climb back in, fire up, taxi very carefully down the edge of the ramp to a yellow line. Follow the yellow line to the end of 16, do another run up and depart Air Park at exactly 6:00AM, the usual time. Big sigh! Climb to 3800' MSL (1000' AGL), check OAT (74°), sip some coffee, relax and anticipate a great fly in.

Around 6:30 AM eastern horizon began to show the rosy glow of dawn. Within another ten minutes the top of edge of the sun appeared right on the spinner. Love those Rosin sun-visors! A few minutes later my GPS calls attention to the fact that the sun has risen, the lower limb of the sun was right at the horizon.

This was my fourth trip to Clinton and the trip up was the fastest, smoothes and easiest that I have made. I used a newfound feature on my GPS that allows me to find the ground elevation anywhere on the map to maintain 1000' AGL or 3000' MSL, which ever is higher. The winds at 3000' were just as advertised giving me a 20 to 30 MPH boost in ground speed.

My method of flight planning is to set a waypoint on both the departure and destination and fly a direct line between the two. Most of the MOAs in out neck of the woods have floors at 6000' to 8000', so I don't pay much attention to them. When I pump all of the fuel out of the aux tanks I start thinking about a place to buy some gas.

My normal criteria for selecting a refueling spot is to pick an airport at which I have not landed and that is not very far off of my route of flight. This year I picked Independence Kansas even though I still had some aux fuel. Three and a half hours is just about enough time for these old bones to sit in a 150. It wasn't until I turned downwind that I remembered that Cessna had moved its' single engine assembly line from Wichita to Independence.

The gas truck was heading for the long line of Cessna single engine planes parked on the ramp in front of the assembly buildings so I knew that there would be a bit of a wait to get fueled. No problem! After taking care of ordering fuel and other personal needs I struck up a conversation with a couple of nice guys who were also waiting in the lounge. One was a Kansas State cop who was helicopter rated but didn't have a commercial fixed wing rating. He was waiting for his instructor to go out and smash bugs. After pleasant and not overly long wait I paid for the 27.5 gallons of 100LL that I had replaced and was ready to make the final leg on into Clinton.

Stats - KMDD to KIDP: 3.5 hours, 503 miles, 29.7 gallons, $87.76
Averages: speed 144 MPH, 8.5 GPH 16.9 MPG

Due to the temperature being in the high 70s at 3000' I climbed on up to 5500' MSL leaving Independence. My ground speed was about 5 MPH slower, still in the high 140s, but the temp was in the very comfortable high 60s and it was very smooth. A few miles west of Kansas City I was forced to climb to 7500' to get on top of some fair weather cum that were beginning to form. To my delight not only was the temp in the low 60s I also picked up my lost tail wind and was seeing ground speed in the mid 150 MPH range, a few time up to 160.

I rolled to a stop in front of the terminal building at terminal at 1:15 PM or 7.25 hours after leaving Midland, about an hour quicker than my previous best time for the trip. It sort of felt like coming home.

Stats - KIDP to KCWI: 3.2 hours, 434 miles, 27.5 gallons, $75.68
Averages: 136 MPH 8.6 GPH 15.8 MPG

Stats - KMDD to KCWI: 6.7 Hrs flying 7.25 ET 937 miles 57.2 gal $163.44
Averages: 140 MPH flying (129 MPH total) 8.5 GPH 16.4 MPG

After a short rest I started looking around for things that I could do to help. Lori had everything so well organized that it was hard to find anything that needed doing. I had volunteered to help Dale Morehead and Gordon Ellis with directing airplanes to parking. In that there were several airplanes already in Clinton on Wednesday afternoon we decided to move them to the grass and use them to "mark" the parking rows.

There is a sort of an unofficial tradition that the early comers to the fly in get together for an informal meal the first evening. It the past we have been hosted to back yard cook outs by some of the local folks. This year an intimate little group of about 30 souls piled into all available transportation and made our way to Mike's (the airport manager) parents restaurant, somewhere way north of Clinton. My efforts to find a table of "strangers", in order to get to know new folks, was frustrated by the fact that I knew someone at every table. How neat is that! The conversation was great and the food was spectacular. I had a schnitzel that was at least ten times better than any I ate in Vienna.

Well fed and with some new old friends we headed back to Clinton and a much needed snooze after a very full day. When we arrived at the Motel 6 (the old Ramada Inn) we were greeted with a horrible smell. There is a rendering plant as well as a corn processing plant south across the highway from the motel and the southerly wind carried an odder that would gag a maggot. Even though my olfactory sense is not the best in the west and I was plenty tired the stench from the capitalist operations to the south made sleep difficult and scant.

Since the Motel 6 has no restaurant I walked a block west and found a nice eatery where I had a full breakfast. Even with some sleep deprivation I was feeling pretty good an anxious to get out to the airport and visit and lend a hand where needed. I caught a ration of fussing when I arrived at the airport in a taxicab. The shuttles were not yet running and I just couldn't bring myself to call the airport begging for a ride from a bunch of folks that were as busy as a one armed paperhanger.

Thursday was spent doing trivial little jobs and helping Dale park the planes that arrived. I did take some time off to go into town and find a motel room that was far away from the rendering plant.

When all of the chicks roosted on Thursday evening Dale and I went for a 150/150 site seeing flight up the Big Muddy. Just for fun we formed up line abreast and fire-walled the Super Sport and the Sport Hawk. Dale was turning 2550 RPM and I was turning 2900. My IAS was about 145 MPH and Dale's must have been just about the same; we flew side by side for several minutes - dead heat.

I did get a bit of a thrill when we returned to the CWI to land. I had dropped about a mile behind Dale to provide plenty of spacing. Dale announced base and I announced downwind, I DID NOT announce "number two to land" - big mistake. I heard another plane also announce downwind and I announced that I was a mid field on downwind. About fifteen seconds latter a white Stinson blew past me, about 200 feet to the right and 50 feet below. Let me tell you that will get your juices flowing.

After tying the plane down for the night I counted the planes in the parking area, 41. A very good sign.

Things started happening on Friday morning. Planes were landing in bunches and kept us hopping, directing them to parking. It was a real honor to be the first to say to each pilot and passenger "Welcome to Clinton". With no spoken communication a very efficient system evolved for getting the planes spotted and parked. While Dale and I spotted the new arrivals and helped them park Gordon Ellis would catch the new arrivals as they approached the ramp and would lead them to the parking area where Dale and I would take them to their space and help them get parked. There were a few delays but not many.

Friday's only casualty was self inflected. I had not worn shorts much this summer and failed to remember to put sunscreen on my legs. Around three in the afternoon I looked down and saw that my pins were the color of a well-done lobster. Ouch! I started down the line of parked planes in search of the loan (gift) of some sunscreen to prevent farther burning and was rewarded at my first stop by a kind soul who was smart enough to come prepared. (For the life of me I can't recall who it was but I would like to say a big BIG thank you none the less.) Lori even sent one of the van drivers to town to pick up some sunscreen for me, talk about a family atmosphere.

Lunch Friday was a Bratwurst on a bun eaten on the run.

By dusk on Friday we had parked 81 airplanes, including three that came and went, two Cessna 195s, a Fairchild, a Cessna 177 and a PA-28.

The Friday evening event was the luau complete with Hawaiian flowery shirts, steak and trimmings. And since the event was held in the hanger there was a good deal of the mandatory hanger flying.

Saturday dawned cloudy and rather cool. A repeat of the cold Saturday of 2004? Not to be. By noon the scud had burned off and the heat and humidity were upon us. I tried to wear long pants to protect my cooked legs but that turned out to be a very bad ides for obvious reasons, so back into the shorts and a BUNCH of sunscreen. Dennis and Phyllis Raddant came to my rescue with "Cactus Juice". I assumed that the potion would be aloe juice but upon reading the label I found that is was the juice of the prickly pear. This stuff is great!

The parking business was pretty slow Saturday and my mid afternoon I had the opportunity to do what I like best, visit with my friends. Best of all I got to have a long visit with Elizabeth Cummings, chaperoned by her mom and dad, Judy and Mathew. It is so much fun to watch the kids grow up and Elizabeth is doing just that at 2 ½ years.

Saturday afternoon Royson took Kirk Wennerstrom up to 3000' AGL in the "Silverlining". Before the assembled fly in Kirk then proceeded to jump out of the airplane and fall for what seemed forever before opening his parachute. Kirk made a light as a feather landing at his selected target point. The crowd of spectators roared its' appreciation and admiration.

The banquet Saturday evening was the very best ever. Never mind that we were not in some fancy air-conditioned venue but rather in the big hanger, we are flyers and a hanger is our natural habitat. The food was good the games were fun, the awards were appreciated and Ed Pataky did a super job as MC. Lori toughed everyone's heart with her monolog and Royson did his usual super job of moving things along and keeping the festivities light.

Gary Shreve won the "Top Gun" award for his outstanding performance in the spot landing contest and the aerial scavenger hunt. Best pilot at Clinton? He has the iron to prove it! 

The real stunner for me came when Royson announced the Member of the Year award; Wayne Westerman. I was sure that I was hallucinating and had not heard correctly. However, Royson persisted and I went up to accept the award. I was really surprised, dumfounded and grateful.

Back in June Robbie Culver emailed several of the club members with the idea of an award from the club members to Royson and Lori thanking them for all of their hard work on behalf of the club members. The response was so good that Robbie wound up obtaining a very nice engraved acrylic plaque plus a couple of hundred bucks to spare. Robbie made the presentation and instructed Lori and Royson to spend the cash for something just for them selves, no club stuff.

And Robbie was not through, no sir not by a long shot. He treated us all to a very professionally produced and edited "movie" of the whole Clinton event. I was simply amazed at the quality and timeliness of the presentation. There were clips that had been shot only a couple of hour earlier. I can't wait to get a copy.

Sunday mornings at Clinton are a bittersweet time for me. While I still glow a little from the past days activities it is time to pack up and go home. The major consolations are that I have a storehouse full of great memories and the prospect of meeting again next year.

With a full heart and full tanks I started my take off roll at a little after 8:00AM. The winds aloft forecast for Saturday was a replay of that for the previous Wednesday so I climbed up to 6500 to have a look. I was only a little disappointed to find the forecast was correct and that the winds were out of the southwest at 30 to 35 KT, giving me a ground speed of 90 to 95 MPH. Around Kansas City the winds dropped off a little and my ground speed picked up to just over 100 MPH.

Although it did not meet all of my criteria for refueling stops (I have been there before) I selected Chanute, KN for my first stop. Another hundred miles would give the possibility of a one-stop trip but that would put be way into my self imposed one hour reserve. Another consideration is the fact that many small airports are for all practical purposes closed for business on Sunday afternoons. So I landed in the 95° heat of central Kansas for a fill up and some stretching. There was no waiting and by the time I had seen to my personal needs and walked around a bit the Sport Hawk had full tanks and we were both ready to continue our home bound odyssey.

4.2 hours 397 miles 35.7 gallons $105.32
Averages 95 MPH 8.5 GPH 11.1 MPG

Leaving Chanute the heat forced me up to 8500 MSL. The winds were slightly lighter and a little more southerly. The ground speed flirted with 105 and then 110 MPH.

Crossing into Oklahoma the afternoon fair weather cumulus began to build and the temperature increased. 10.5 seemed like a good idea. Up higher the wind moved to a more westerly direction but the velocity dropped a bit allowing us to continue make a steady 110 MPH. However, no mater how hard I tried there was just no way that I would make Midland with an hours worth of fuel without another stop.

Crosbyton, TX has a nice little strip with an active agricultural operation and even though it had been ten years since I had landed at 8FE I felt sure that fuel would be available. It was not to be. When I taxied up to the self serve pump I saw that it was in poor repair, there was no bonding strap and no ladder. In fact, I was greeted by a very large black dog that informed me that the gas pump was his and that any attempt to so much as touch it would bring dire consequences.

Not wishing to upset the canine guardian of the gas pump I pushed the Sport Hawk back on the ramp. That is when the "tireds" hit me. I had promised myself that I would spend the night enroute rather than get excessively tired. But I was just an hour from home, a hot shower and my own bed.

The Sport Hawk and I made the short 20 mile hop to Slaton (F49) where we were able to get the mains topped off and be on our way home; it was only 104 miles and about an hour away.

Stats: KCNU - 8FE - F49
4.3 hours 452 miles 36.6 gallons $115.29
Averages 105.1 MPH 8.5 GPH 12.3 MPG

Even with the ground speed occasionally bumping 115 the final leg into Midland Air Park too exactly an hour. Of course that included a climb to 10,500 MSL.

I landed at my home airport at just after 5:00 PM CDT, a little over nine hours after leaving Clinton.

Stats: F49 - MDD
1 hour 105 miles 8.6 gallons $26.66
Averages 105 MPH 8.6 GPH 12.2 MPG

Stats: CWI - MDD
9.5 hours 954 miles 80.9 gallons $247.21
100 MPH 8.5 GPH 11.8 MPG

Stats: MDD - CWI - MDD (round trip)
16.2 hours 1891 miles 138.1 gallons $410.65
116.7 MPH 8.5 GPH 13.7 MPG

I was pretty tired but the trip had not been bad at all. With the exception of the headwinds and some dancing with the clouds over Oklahoma and North Texas the weather had be great. I had a long time to recall and enjoy the recent memories of the past four days. Clinton just gets better and better every year. New events, new faces, more faces, great airplanes, great people and a relaxed laid back atmosphere to enjoy things and people aeronautical.

In my opinion Clinton is by far the most enjoyable of any flying event that I have ever attended. Oshkosh is great. It is in fact a wonder. But it is huge, crowded, and almost frantic and overwhelming. Too much to see, too much to do, too many people and most of them strangers. At Clinton I feel that I belong, that I am with friends and that is what counts for me.

The Clinton affair is a marvel of organization. Royson and Lori have it down to a fine art. I have always been impressed with the transportation provided for those of us staying in town. This year my average wait time for transportation from the hotel to the airport was 0:00:00. Every time I walked out the door of the hotel there was a van waiting to whisk me to the airport. I felt a little guilty, it was almost as if I had a private driver.

In the past I have thought, "this is as good as it gets". Each succeeding year I have found that I was wrong. Clinton just gets better every year. The only major improvement that I could come up with was to have every member attend the fly in and experience for themselves the fun and camaraderie that are the hallmarks of the National Fly In of the Cessna 150-152 Club.

I am already looking forward to the 2006 event. I just hope that we don't have to go through the cliffhanger that we experienced this year.

Wayne Westerman
Midland, TX

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