Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dallas flying

I'm in Dallas on business (yes I work weekends) and had the afternoon free, so I connected with some other Beech owners and we had a little lunch flyout.  Glenn picked me up from Dallas Air Park which is a little residential strip a few miles from my hotel.  Texas is a great state to fly in because the distances are great and there are lots of little airports everywhere, gas is about $1 a gallon cheaper too.  Next time I'm going to take my Baron, I think I can do it in about 7 hours.  We flew from Air Park to KDTO in Glenn's Debonaire which was my first time in a BE33 so that was cool, here is a shot of his Debbie

We met Don and Leldon at Denton and took the crew car to "Cracker Barrel" which felt like a real Texas style restaurant.  Good food and great fun for people watching.  Don is a former Navy pilot and flew A4 Skyhawks and a bunch of other cool stuff, he's also done a hundred and fifty odd angel flights in his beautiful F33A. Here's a shot of it:

Leldon has traveled all over the place including two jaunts to Alaska in his own Debbie.  He also has a nice A36 with DeShannon tip tanks:

It was good fun talking to those guys.  Then we flew over to a tiny little grass strip to meet up with Glenn's buddy Mike to see his Grumman Widgeon.  I've never seen a Widgeon before and that is one funky airplane!  The mixtures are behind the pilots head, everything is all over the place.  What a cool airplane.

Mike also has a spoless Debonaire with a custom engine you could eat off of... apparently this is an IO470K with 520 jugs and makes 308 horses.  Cool!

Then Don and Leldon took off and we hung out with Mike and then went over to meet his buddy Ken who owns and restored an absolutely beautiful Stearman.  Here is a shot:

Ken truly is a master craftsman.  Everything about this plane was perfect, right down to the stenciled US army lettering.  He is also rebuilding an old Stinson which I've forgotten the model number for, but this will give an idea that these planes are stunningly gorgeous inside and out:

Then Ken says that a few friends who are former NASA space shuttle astronauts are coming by, one owns another Stearman that Ken restored and the other is a woman and her husband who are big sky divers and wanted to try jumping from the Stearmans.  Obviously that was not something we wanted to miss, so we hung out until they got there.  It was really cool seeing all the neighborhood kids come by to get their photo taken with the astronauts.  It took a bit of figuring to work out the logistics of the jump

Eventually they worked out how to climb out of the cockpit and drop without smacking the tail, the two Stearmans would fly in formation and Glenn and Mike would slow flight along and try to shoot it on video from the Bonanza.  Pre launch photo:

I stayed on the ground so I couldn't really get any shots of the dive itself, but it looked scary.  There was a low cloud deck so they jumped about 3200 AGL which didn't look very high to me and the drop does look fast.  The flew together for a brief touch and then pulled their shoots.  They both landed easily in the area despite the 15 kt wind.  Very impressive!

Then Glenn and I flew back and he let me have a little stick time in the BE33. Very fun plane and I must admit I was envious looking down and see 11 GPH instead of 24! Glenn dropped me off and I couldn't really thank him enough for the Texas hospitality. A really great afternoon that sure beat sitting in the hotel!

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