Thursday, September 9, 2010

Second Day of Part VII of the Dare To Do Air Kansas Explorer Quest - Sunday, September 5, 2010

After a day before of relaxation at the home of Bill Morris and Sharon Eicher and their three-year old Freya, visiting the Keeper of the Plains statue (one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art and a finalist for the overall 8 Wonders of Kansas) at the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas Rivers in the center of Wichita, Kansas and eating great Chinese for the evening meal, Sunday morning, September 5, 2010 has dawned bright and early here in Wichita.  We get around, climb into Bill Morris' Trabant, and he takes us back to Colonel James Jabarra Airport on the city's northeast side.  The wind even this early in the day is gusting and very windy - almost as much as my writing.

We arrive at Jabarra Airport at 8:20AM.  The Pilot gives his American Champion Citabria a check-over and at 8:31AM we take off to the southeast. 

Looking back over the city of Wichita, Kansas.  At one point we have had in our sights no less than four major airports at one time.  It is the Air Capital of the World for a reason!

Heading southeast we fly over the suburb of Andover, Kansas.  The 18-hole Terradyne Golf Course is seen here, with its Hereford House steakhouse.

Upon flying over Cook Field we swing around to the southwest.  Because of the constant winds of over 20 miles an hour, gusting to over 25 mph, our progress is slow and we fly at a speed of only 40 knots - or roughly 46.5 miles an hour.   We arrive over Wellington Municipal Airport - one of the airports we decided to forego back on Friday - at 9:17AM and I take the above photo.  Located two miles north of the city limits, the airport opened in November 1942 and features a 4,201 foot long by 100 foot wide concrete runway. 

We touch down at 9:23AM.  The Wellington Terminal/Lounge has everything an air traveler could wish for - bathrooms, vending machines, microwaves, courtesy telephones, courtesy cars, courtesy computer, courtesy  television, cushy chairs, and even local brochures!  And no hornets.

Fuel can be got here 24 hours a day via credit card.  The Pilot gets gas here at $3.84 a gallon, cheaper than most airports.

We take off at 9:54AM and fly over the city of Wellington.  "The Wheat Capital of the World" was founded in April 1871 and was a stop on the Chisolm Trail.  Explorer Extras: (1) You can fish in Slate Creek in Sellers Park; and (2) The City Council meeting room has a mural by noted Kansas artist Stan Herd.

The Pilot has to "crab" the plane against the constant winds of over 20 miles an hour, gusting to over 25 quite often. To "crab" means that while the nose of the plane is pointing due south, we are actually flying due southwest.  At the moment - 10:04AM - we have the above view of the landscape of Sumner County, Kansas northwest toward the city of Conway Springs, Kansas in the distance. 

10:15AM - We circle Argonia Municipal Airport, as seen above.  Opened on September 1, 1980, the airport features a single turf runway 3,200 foot long by 60 foot wide. 

A rare over-the-Pilot's shoulder shot of our approach to Argonia Municipal Airport from the north for a landing.  We wish to thank the Pilot for moving his head sideways so that I could get this photo.  Simply impossible otherwise!

At about tree level during the approach this is what I see until we actually land.  Most interesting rug, don't you think?  Yes, my fear of heights kicks in about then and to date I have not personally witnessed a landing yet.

We touch down on the ground at 10:17AM.  One look around at the three hangars and nothing else (there's one of them in the above photo), and we don't even bother to get out of the plane.  We fill out the checklist (that was easy) and take off again at 10:21PM, heading to the northwest for Norwich Municipal. 

10:34Am - And we fly over Norwich Municipal Airport.  Wait - didn't we just leave this airport?  Norwich Municipal opened January 1971 and features a  3,230 foot long by 80 foot wide turf runway.  This has been a recording.

We touch down at 10:34AM.  The shot above is of us taxiing back down the field.  Once again we end up not getting out of the plane, as there is nothing we cannot see from within the plane.  The official Recreation in Norwich website does state, however, that "hangar space is available."

The Pilot wanted to be sure we got this particular shot.  This is the northern end of the runway at Norwich, looking to the north.  The last thing a pilot wants to see in their runway approach from the north anywhere are power lines that are marked by red balls (standard aerial warnings, not a problem) followed by standing telephone poles at least as tall as the power lines.  This makes pilots very, very nervous and are added hazards that simply do not need to exist.  I will get off my soapbox now as we are taking off at 10:39 AM.

Here is a shot of the city of Norwich, Kansas.  Norwich was founded in 1885 in Kingman County and at its peak boasted a population of 1,500 people.  One local business, the Farrar Corporation, was founded in the 1930s by E.C. Farrar.  It began by installing furnaces and eventually went into farm repair.  In the 1940s it was one of the biggest blacksmith shops in the area.  By 1967 they had started a foundry which represented half their business in 1972.  In 1976 the new foundry was completed.  In 1984 they employed 80 persons to produce ductile iron castings for equipment manufacturers throughout the United States. By 2002 Farrar Corporation employed 125 and opened a machine shop in Manhattan, Kansas.   And the Ye Old State Bank Treasures and Antiques features fresh donuts on Saturdays!

We head northwest and cross over the Chikaskia River and some geologic outcroppings.  "The Chikaskia is a 145 mile-long tributary of the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River.  it begins as an intermittent stream in southwestern Pratt County, Kansas and initially flows eastwardly into Kingman County, where it turns southeastward for the remainder of its course through Harper and Sumner Counties in Kansas and Grant and Kay Counties in Oklahoma.  In Kay County the river flows past the town of Blackwell, Oklahoma and flows into the Salt Fork five miles southeast of Tonkawa, Oklahoma."  You gotta love Wikipedia. 

     This is Clyde Cessna Field at Kingman, Kansas.  It opened in August 1945.   An asphalt surface for a primary runway surface 3,900 feet long by 50 feet wide was constructed in 1971.  The first turf crosswind, 2,600 feet long by 170 feet wide, was also constructed in 1971 and is now asphalt as well.  
    We read in the following:  A few miles south of Kingman, near the town of Rago, Kansas, is the former home of a farmer named Clyde Cessna. While Cessna’s first attempts at building airplanes, teaching himself to fly them, and then crashing them, occurred near Enid, Oklahoma, it was the farm near Kingman where much of the early work that actually spawned the Cessna aircraft company was done. It is on this farm that he spent the last twenty years of his life, and it is where he died.
    But where would you need to go in Kingman? Well, the folks at the Airport Board invited us to visit their facility and their town, and we learned there are some things, especially for pilots, that are definitely of interest.
     If possible, plan your visit to overlap a Friday. The reason is that Kingman has a museum that boasts some very early and rare photographs of Clyde Cessna and his work, as well as some aviation artifacts found on his farm, but the museum is only open on Friday. On the north wall of the museum is a mural depicting Clyde’s early flights. In case you care about anything other than airplanes, the museum has a number of other fascinating exhibits regarding the history of Kingman as well.
     After the museum, we’d suggest a drive in the country to see the original Cessna homestead. City Hall, just down from the museum, can give you directions. The farm was recently sold and is no longer owned by the Cessna family, so it isn’t technically a tourist attraction, and should be treated with the respect due any private property. The small white house on a dirt road with the hangar in which Clyde built those early designs still stands. It is impressive as you look at the simple farm house, barns, and hangar to think that the beginning of the Cessna Aircraft Company – whose aircraft now span the globe and whose product line has gone from simple trainers to complex jets – had its beginning in this place. Paul Handkins, who grew up just down the road from Clyde and who knew him well, took us by the old place. If you ask around, you can find people, like Paul, who actually knew Clyde and who can give you a unique perspective on this aviation pioneer. We then went to the Greenwood Cemetery, where Clyde, his wife Europa, their children and spouses are buried. The simple, peaceful nature of the place defies the importance of the role the Cessna name has had in shaping aviation history.
     This is a very good website!  Be sure to visit!

We land at 11AM at Clyde Cessna Field.  The Lindt Terminal Building is open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and features a Pilot's Lounge, Airport Manager's Office, Restroom with shower, Conference Room, Pilot Testing Center, computer, television, vending machines, and Free Coffee!  On Saturday and Sunday weekend travelers can enter the building using the number-coded door lock.   We can safely say that this is one of the finest airport complexes anywhere in Kansas!

One last view of Clyde Cessna Field.  We take off at 11:25AM and begin heading to Hutchinson Municipal Airport. 

     Aerial view of Kingman, Kansas.  The town and the county were named for Samuel A. Kingman, early president of the Kansas Bar Association and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court as well as first president of the Kansas State Historical Society.
     Highway 54 is officially designated as the Cannonball Stageline Highway from the east edge of Kingman thru Greensburg - so named for the colorful stagecoach driver who ran the Cannon Ball Stage Line beginning originally in Wichita, moved westward to Kingman, and from there on westward ahead of the railroads. Without him and other stage lines, western Kansas would have been settled much slower.

     Mary Collingwood came to Kansas in November of 1872 from Crawford County, Indiana. Two horse drawn prairie schooners held the possessions of this intrepid widow, her six sons, and three daughters. Attracted by the "Free Lands", this family came to make a home, little dreaming how prominent would be the role they and their descendants were to play here in the following 10 decades. When Mary Jane Collingwood reached this level land with no rocks or trees to move before farming could begin, she commented, "My, what a pretty prairie!" This was the name she chose when her home, which had become a stage stop, required a name. - Taken from the Biographical History of Central Kansas Vol. 1, 1902, Lewis Public. Co., page 58.  Feel like a genuine font of information today!  At 11:34AM we cross over the city of Pretty Prairie, Kansas.  Pretty Prairie's Civic Theater is noted for its Classic Film Series, giving everyone the opportunity to see great motion pictures in a old-time theater. 

Looking off to the east we see in the distance Cheney Reservoir. 

1:35AM - Aerial shot of Castleton, Reno County, Kansas. The post office was established December 6, 1872, and discontinued June 28, 1957.  In 1971 the post office building was moved to the Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village in Barton County, Kansas.  Castleton was the setting for "Sevillinois, Illinois 1895" in the movie Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie filmed in 1952.

11:14AM - we fly over Hutchinson and take the above shot of Hutchinson Municipal Airport.  The airport first opened in April 1940.

Two shots of the Hutchinson Airport Terminal and part of the runways/hangars.  We touch down at 11:45AM amid a southern wind that is indeed windy!  The Pilot gets out of the plane first and runs to the back of the plane, putting all his weight on the tail section, so as to prevent the wind from lifting the plane up in a nice ride over the tarmac on its own!  I then climb out of the plane and take his place on the tail section, holding it down with all my weight and strength while the Pilot runs around with rope and ties the back wheel and both wings down to ties, or hooks already imbedded in the ground.  Finally we can walk away, the plane continuing to buck like a tied wild bronco.   

Inside the Hutchinson Terminal can be found this excellent bronze statue of a child playing with their airplane. 

If you haven't eaten yet at the Airport Steakhouse located in the Hutchinson Terminal, then you've been missing out.  We got here in time for the Sunday buffet, from which I concocted my "Commodore Bacon" special platter!

     Naturally that has to be followed with cheesecake and chocolate-dipped marshmallows!  Woof.
     After lunch we head back out into the wind.  The Pilot has an idea!  He has me get into the plane and literally stand on the brakes; they actually hold!  He then runs around the plane, unties it, and climbs in, taking my place on the brakes.  Once he gets the engine going we have no problem cutting through the wind and take off from Hutch at 12:43PM.  We consider a flight over the headquarters of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, only a few miles to the northeast, but not in this wind!  The amount of gas that would take is just too much.  So we turn northwest toward Lyons.

We pass over the northern limits of Hutchinson and looking down realize that we are passing over the legendary Prairie Dunes Golf Course, considered to be one of the top 100 such courses in the nation.  The photo just doesn't do it justice.  Wonder if anyone is out golfing in this wind?!

Just southeast of Lyons is one of only two commercial salt mines curretnly open in Kansas.  The Lyons Salt Company first opened in 1917.  It became a division of the North American Salt Company in 1990. 

The Lyons-Rice County Municipal Airport is located just to the west of Lyons and is yet another Kansas airport that opened during World War II, this one in December 1944.  It features a 2,999 foot long by 50 foot wide asphalt runway and a 2,550 foot long by x 150 foot wide turf runway. 

We land at 1:08PM and are greeted by a friendly dog!  All airports should have friendly dogs.  The front doors of the Airport Lounge swoosh open for me as I go in, only to discover that the inside doors are locked!  The place looks great - sofas, comfy chairs, public telephone, courtesy computer and television, vending machines, bathrooms, etc., but because it is the weekend no one can use any of it.  Take heed, local authorities!  A simple number-coded lock would make this lounge available on the weekend, instead of a wasted drain on public taxes!

With nothing else for it we take off once more at 1:20PM, circling over the city of Lyons.  Named for General Nathaniel Lyons of Union Army Civil War fame, Lyons' Main Street (U.S. Highway 56) sits on the former location of the Santa Fe Trail.  And it is near Lyons that evidence has been found to mark the northernmost known site of Coronado's 1541 Spanish expedition. 

Now flying west we pass over the city of Chase, Kansas. 

At 1:36PM we fly over the Ellinwood Municipal Airport, which lies a mile northwest of the city of Ellinwood.  Opened in March 1945 and features a 2,550 foot long by 100 foot wide turf/gravel runway!  Something new.

We land at 1:39AM (on the turf) and taxi up to what looks like the main building.  It is locked; a sign on the front door reads: Had to go to town.  Please call 564-2508!  There is no way to know if this was posted in a half hour ago or three months ago.  With nothing else for it we wander amid the buildings and find nice weeds to water, then climb back in the plane one last time and take off at 1:49PM. 

One last shot of Ellinwood Municipal.

Aerial view of Ellinwood, Kansas, from the northwest.  In the 1870s the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was built, roughly following the route of the former Santa Fe Trail. The town is named for Captain John Ellinwood, chief civil engineer and surveyor for the AT&SF, who camped near here in the fall of 1871. The town's first merchant, George M. Jackson, laid out the town in the spring of 1872 and began selling whiskey and tobacco. The railroad reached Ellinwood that summer, and growth was rapid, reaching 400 by 1878.  Today Ellinwood is known for its Underground Tunnels, a series of sites beneath the current downtown where businesses once thrived. 

Just a few miles north of Ellinwood is the former German settlement of Loretto, the school and church of which still remain.

1:57PM - we fly around Cheyenne Bottoms National Wildlife Refuge, which we saw from afar earlier in our journey.  This natural marsh is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. 

2PM - we pass over the city of Claflin, Kansas.  One always wonders where these places get their names . . . . turns out that Claflin, called Giles City for a short time, was named after prominent citizen J. Hamilton's wife's maiden name, "Claflin".  Huh.  Learn something new every day.

Downtown Claflin is dominated by Miller's of Claflin, a monster furniture business begun in 1903 still going strong.  It was recently a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce.  Buy anything from them, and its free delivery to anywhere in Kansas. 

We continue north with a tail wind pushing us to 110 knots, or a cruising speed of about 120 miles per hour.  Shown here is the former community of Hischmann in northern Barton County.

We pass by Dorrance Kansas.  That means in just a few seconds we will be going over . . . .

Wilson Lake, one of the more interesting bodies of water in Kansas.  Created by damming the Saline River, the reservoir is the saltiest body of water in the state.

North of Wilson Lake is the community of Lucas, Kansas.

Downtown Lucas, Kansas.

Passing on north into Osborne County, we pass over the Cheyenne Gap, a local landmark that marks the division between water flowing into the Saline River Watershed to the south and the Solomon River Watershed to the north.

Just three miles short of the end of our journey we pass over the remains of the 1871 David Tindal Farmhome.  Take this as a real warning to those who scoff that rural Kansas is not "needed;" this home is the way that currently rural Kansas is going, and without it urban Kansas will soon follow.  Just sayin'.

We press on and once more land at Osborne Municipal Airport at 2:33PM.  Thank you for flying Flyaway Airlines, announces the Pilot.  On this journey we landed at nineteen new Kansas public airports, bringing our current total to 71 airports.  We've crossed the halfway mark at last, with only 68 to go!