by Jeff Davis

It has been 3 years since I attended the first Clinton Fly-In  in 2001.

That event was an adventure from the moment I first considered attending. Like everything in life, our flying perceptions are greatly filtered by our experience. That first year, was my first travel beyond the Pacific NW and was in my first airplane, the 150/150 known as the Acme Flying Machine.

Red Bird at Clinton 2004Hmmmm apparently the group had matured too and their need for dinner and drinks were more pressing than arriving club members. Oh much for the impressive "Mamma, I'm late for dinner" arrival procedure I had been polishing for 3 years. Royson taught us all that one in 2001. In the Cardinal, dinner comes much quicker, but the Whopper and Onion Rings wasn't quite what I was hoping for. The event had obviously matured too.

Under Lori's careful choreography of the registration and meals, and Airboss Mayotte and son Tom's choreography of the aircraft, the event went with precision. One comment I made, as I "observed" from my helper status was how transparent all the hard work was to the attendee's. The proverbial "duck" comparison was in order (calm on the surface, paddling like crazy under the water) certainly applied.

The weather was wonderful, even cool, which was a stark contrast to the blazing heat and melting humidity of my first year. I will take blessings like that. I got to become 30 years younger at this event, working aircraft on the runway and taxiways just like I did as a plane captain in the Navy...ah the glory days of youth. The soreness the following days reminded me of the maturity thing again. I got to see a lot of familiar faces this year. Royson, Lori, Gordon, Joel (and Fury), Wayne, Charles, and so forth. Really enjoyed seeing Sarah again, as I remembered her making the first event much better as she helped me through my spark plug problem.

Met lots of new folks this year too. Problem was, many of them had attended 2002 and 2003, so I was the apparent newcomer. In all, it was with some remorse that I saddled up at first light Sunday morning. I had lots of time to ponder over the vast expanse of real estate that is South Dakota, Iowa and Montana.

Was it worth it? Yes, friends are friends and they are worth the effort to keep in touch. Will I go again? Lord willing, yes. It seems that life can dictate your circumstances as I found the prior two years. What did I enjoy the most? That's difficult. I think Royson beaming like a proud father will be etched in my memory (kind of like kids: costs a fortune to raise them, but you forget that when they succeed).

Jeff coordinating the contest departuresMaybe the joy that attendees had when they accomplished that first long cross-country, or renewed friendships from a year earlier, or the excitement from the spectators when someone hit the spot landing mark. I am not sure which memory will remain the longest, but there are many to choose from. What I am sure of is that events like this will continue to be the life-blood of general aviation.

We only have so much local real estate to look at, and sometimes it takes a commitment like this to make one stretch their wings. It did for me in 2001, and I am grateful.

Jeff Davis
Cessna 177B Cardinal
Hermiston, OR (HRI)

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