Wednesday, March 18
It has been quite awhile since our last post in September. During our stay in Sioux Falls, the pilots noticed signs that one of our engines was nearing the end of its life. It was not unexpected, but nevertheless inconvenient as winter comes early in South Dakota and immediate care was needed to move the plane to a maintenance facility. After much dedicated work by our crew and a local mechanic the Flagship went to an American Airlines Maintenance facility in Tulsa, where she has been since.
A dedicated crew of volunteers has been working on her for the last six months, not just on engine replacement, but going over her with a fine tooth comb from nose to tail. She should be shining like a new dime when she leaves there.
The new engine was tested earlier this week and passed so it should be soon on its way to Tulsa to be installed.
Following is a list of some of the names and some of the tasks as listed by our maintenance chief, Jim Gentry. All these folks are American Airlines employees who spend their off hours back at work detailing the Detroit.
Dave Romere finishing LED wiring and working in a maze of instrument panel wiring to install new gauges. Patrick Mitchell has had to lie down to do the tedious job of under floor cleaning, priming and installing floorboards in the center aisle.
Those of us who travel with the airplane are grateful to this dedicated group of people who keep us and the airplane in the air. Hopefully in a few weeks she will be released with a clean bill of health and looking like a million dollars. Thanks, guys!
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 14:22
Sunday, September 21
|Did I mention it was cold?|
Upon landing, we find that it is no warmer on the ground. About 51 degrees.This is unseasonably cold even this far north. Coming from 100 in Ft. Worth, this is welcome, but we are still somewhat under clad. We are greeted by an enthusiastic ground crew, the event coordinator, Rick Tupper and the airport manager. We are here to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their airport, Joe Foss Field. Joe Foss was the leading Marine Corps Ace in the Second World War, a Medal of Honor recipient and later the governor of SD. He was also the first commissioner of the NFL.
After loading up the two cars being loaned to us, we drive off the tarmac and past the terminal. Looking to our left we see Jenny and Bruce Duling exiting the terminal. Stopped for hugs, loaded luggage and we are off to the hotel. The first order of business after check in is finding food as it is nearing mid afternoon. Fate led us to Crawford's because it seemed to be the only place in town open between two and five. Crawford's is in a restored building with tin ceiling and quirky decor such as velvet bonnet chairs and a red jeweled wall.
Downtown Sioux Falls is a cute and happening place. Very clean with well restored historic buildings. Lots of cute shops, and restaurants. Very interesting sculptures line the sidewalks.
A ongoing mission of the Flagship crew through the years has been the quest for the perfect margarita. Serious research has been done on this subject. The worse by far was discovered in Cody, WY. And a good candidate was sniffed out in Tampa, FL. Designations so far include "very good" and "quite decent." That is until Crawford's in Sioux Falls, SD. This could be the one. It is served in a tumbler you would feel
|This could be the one!|
After lunch we went to see the Falls from whence comes the name of the city. They are right in the middle of downtown in a well kept and very green park. They are a series of rapids and falls. The wind is rather sharp and after an exploration of about an hour, we retreat to the warmth of our hotel. An early evening is a real rarity for this group.
Friday the airplane was on display to try to sell memberships to the foundation. We had a table set up inside the terminal building along with the Commemorative Air Force and people outside showing the plane. It was cloudy and chilly all day and very few people came by. Late in the afternoon we moved the plane over to the other side of the airport for the events on Saturday.
Again we headed downtown to Crawford's and had another famous margarita. Then the younger crowd, Bob, Bruce and Jenny headed to an Ethiopian restaurant and the remainder went to the number one ranked restaurant in town, Minerva's. Neither group was disappointed.
Saturday was promised to be warmer but an over night low of 34 degrees made the morning very chilly. And there was a very brisk wind which kept the wind chill pretty low. We were at the airport at 8 and partook of a pancake breakfast which was tasty. Then we set up our table inside the hanger "where we would be out of the wind." But we were near an exterior door and the wind howled through. Peggy and Sheryl were in uniforms and freezing. As the sun got higher, it became warmer in the plane but not in the hanger. Around noon, Zane and Deanna Lemon came in from Dallas. Bob and Jenny went off to get us some food and because every one was so cold, they purchased meals in a bag which they warmed up in aluminum pans they bought on the grills that had been used to cook the breakfast that morning. The hot meal sure hit the spot. And Jenny bought hot chocolate and marshmallows which were a big hit. She had to walk over to the terminal and bring back two cups of hot water at a time but she did it time and time again until we had all been served. We teased that she should have been a flight attendant rather than a pilot.
By early afternoon the crowds had decreased and we had plenty of staff so Sheryl and Peggy were ferried
The dance is an annual event an many of the participants came in period dress. The hit for us was Elvis in his military uniform and his partner who did some moves not seen since watching old movies of the 40's. Swing dancing must be making a come back. Unfortunately, the cool weather seemed to keep some folks away and it was not as well attended than in other years. Again, part of the crew left early, leaving others to secure the airplane.
On Sunday the weather was warming, but alas, our stay here is over and the crew members made their way to their various homes.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 08:53
Wednesday, September 3
Sunday, August 24
One of our new members brought a friend so the five of us and three new members head out to Greeley, CO. One of the interesting things about our stay in Iowa City is the airport had a web cam and many of our friends were watching us and making comments. A rather odd feeling.
In Greeley, we are joined by Peggy Fairchild, Steve Jacobson, Jim Gentry and, big surprise, Larry Jameson. Larry is a long time member of the Flagship crew who has been out of the loop for about two years battling pancreatic cancer. He has a summer home in the area. Larry is looking hale and hearty and pitches in to help like he has never been away.
|Andy, the mechanic aka Jim Gentry|
|Peggy and Sheryl counting the money during rainstorm|
The crew, along with Bruce and Arlene, adjourn to Texas Roadhouse for our last dinner of this trip. We bid farewell to Jim Skelly who will leave from Denver early tomorrow and to Bruce, who has become so dear to us in the last week. We will leave Jake and Peggy here to enjoy Colorado and the remaining five of us will head for Tulsa early tomorrow.
|Will Zahner polishing|
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 06:27
Thursday, August 21
|Alan Murray, Zane Lemon, Jim Skelly|
We pulled up and opened the door and the first thing I heard was a voice directed at the cockpit from outside saying, "Captain Gene, how about posing for a photo?" My mind was in a state of confusion, who would know Gene's name? Then I saw the man, tall, good looking guy.....wearing a Flagship tee shirt. OK, who is this person?? Then I saw her: the female co-pilot from the previous day who was at the table when the twenty dollar bill went missing. This is where she lives and this is her husband in the shirt she bought him in Chicago. Talk about coincidence. And it does not end there. We find they are Jenny and Bruce Duling. Bruce learned to fly DC-3s at Aviation Academy in Griffin, GA where Gene had instructed years before. AND Bruce had flown down in Louisiana in the oil spill dispersion effort and knew the three Flagship pilots who also worked in that effort. Talk about small worlds!! Bruce and Jenny stayed with us for several hours. Bruce even asked Gene to tell some DC-3 stories. He probably regretted that! They took many wonderful photos, including those in this post and later brought them to us on a thumb drive. Jenny is a former Navy pilot. They bought a former Catholic School in nearby Riverside and are renovating it for their residence plus some rental units.
|Bruce and Jenny Duling|
We also want to thank airport manager, Mike Tharp and his staff, who made us right at home for three days. They were excited that we were there and were so helpful to us. Deb even made zucchini bread for us.
Tuesday night Bruce and Jenny, plus Bruce's charming mother joined us for dinner and we got to hear Bruce's flying stories. He has has a lot of adventures for someone so young.
Our publicity had stated that we would leave Wednesday morning but we decided to stay another day. We still had a pretty steady stream of visitors and again booked a membership ride for 11. Bruce and Jenny again joined us for dinner with much frivolity....the guys have new victims to regale with their flying stories instead of just to each other. We will leave for Greeley CO on Thursday morning with Bruce and another new member on board. Lunch stop in Grand Isle Nebraska.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 06:59
Wednesday, August 20
|Our guardian angel, Khyati Shah|
We arrived in Chicago Friday just after noon August 15 and were met by our host Chief Pilot Chip Long, along with Chief P.K. Raeder and Khyati Shah, a lovely young woman who was our companion and got us through all the security check points. Chip's wife Elizabeth was also at the airport a good portion of the weekend and took part in making us feel at home. These three people were at our beck and call and really took good care of us.They gave up their weekend, postponed all other concerns and promoted our cause the whole time we were there. I cannot say enough about
|ABC cameraman filming while in flight.|
The American Airlines employees were very enthusiastic, as were all the others who came through. We were enchanted by a group of New Iberia Spanish flight attendants and their pilots. Employees of American and other airlines, plus police, food service, bus drivers, TSA (and a bomb sniffing dog, Psycho) came through over the next three days. American conducted a lottery and awarded twenty lucky employees a ride Friday afternoon. The next morning we flew in tandem with a 737 to open the Air and Water Show in Chicago and that afternoon did a membership ride for 14 new members. The weather did not cooperate on Sunday and we stayed on the ground. The air show for that day was canceled.
The local ABC affiliate in Chicago was with us all afternoon on Friday and aired a wonderful segment on the plane that evening and the next morning. They took the time to find and incorporate vintage footage and had a helicopter stationed above to catch our take off on the membership ride that afternoon.
Saturday night we went to an Italian restaurant named Zias that Jane had eaten at previously. The food was really good and they treated us to a dessert platter at the end that we enthusiastically passed around. YUM! Jane, David, Sheryl and Gene shared a cab and a really hair raising ride to and from the restaurant.
|Chief Pilot Chip Long and wife Elizabeth|
Meanwhile, Zane had changed shirts and left the white one folded in a chair behind the table, admonishing us not
|Jim, Zane, Gene, Khyati Shah, Sheryl, David, and Chief P.K. Raeder||,|
Jane, Deanna and Evelyn flew out on Sunday. David flew out early Monday. That left five of us to head for Iowa City on Monday after a slight weather delay.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 09:48
Tuesday, August 19
|Blake and Gene :Two buddies doing what they love most|
Before long, Blake Butler joined us. Blake had signed up about 19 new members and we were to treat them to their membership flight that afternoon. Sheryl changed into her "stewardess" uniform and started signing folks up as they arrived. Just before 6PM we took these people up for the time of their lives. We split the members into two flights due to weight limits. A wonderful flight on a day of perfect weather with an uncharacteristic coolness in the air.
Upon landing we discovered that David Gorrell had arrived from Utah, as well as Jim and Evelyn Skelly from Tampa. Everyone worked on putting the plane away for the night. By this time it was almost 8PM. We stopped and picked up fried chicken and sides in town and then adjourned to Blake's charming home for dinner. He graciously put two couples up for the night while the other two people bunked in George Dennis' log cabin next door.
Bright and early the next morning, we were up and out. We stopped for breakfast as with the Flagship, one never knows when the next meal will be and sure enough our next meal was after 8PM that evening. Next stop Chicago, where Deanna Lemon and Jane Gorrell will join us.
It was a lovely flight and as we reached the mid west
we could see green, green squares of land delineated by light colored roads. In each square would be a home place and several outbuildings. The heartland and bread basket of America.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 09:38
Friday, July 11
|Testing engines prior to Dayton Show|
The Dayton Air Show is one of the oldest in the country and also one of the best run. We are, after all, in Orville and Wilbur's home town, a fact that is evident from the art work on the concrete lining the interstates to the art work and displays in the hotel. This is an aviation city.
Intrepid travelers Steve Jacobson, Jim Skelly and Peggy Fairchild found their way to Tulsa by various means on Thursday last and launched for Shelbyville, TN on Friday morning,along with Jim Gentry. Meanwhile, Gene and Sheryl Christian had driven to Shelbyville and Tony and Judy DeSantis had flown up from Stuart, FL in their own plane, packed to the gills with Judy's sound equipment. The group was rounded out by Blake Butler and Lisa Loague. Lisa is our newest member and lives in Bowling Green, KY. She is a tireless worker and a real asset to the group. We left Tennessee in late afternoon and arrived Dayton in early evening to find lots of eager volunteers just dying to help us.
|Dawn in Tulsa before leaving for Dayton|
While we were not overwhelmed, we had good crowds most of the day which largely evaporated during the actual air show. Nevertheless, they were very appreciative of our airplane, knowledgeable about aviation and generous with their donations. Many children got their photos taken with Captain
|Judy on top of the world|
Show headliners were the Blue Angels and we enjoyed their show both days. The Aero Shell Team was also there and they always put on a good show. We were visited by a three star General from Wright Patterson on the second day.
Jim Gentry left on Sunday morning to return to Tulsa. On Monday morning Jim Skelly, Peggy and Jake all took the airlines to their various destinations. That left six of us to fly the plane back to Shelbyville where we were met by George Dennis. The plane will remain in Shelbyville at least until the middle of July to do some membership flights and a couple of check rides.
|Jim Gentry, Jim Skelly, Tony and Judy DeSantis, Blake Butler, Lisa Loague, Gene and Sheryl Christian, Steve Jacobson and Peggy Fairchild|
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 06:46
Sunday, June 22
The Flagship spent a hard week being put through her paces as several of her pilots gathered in Tulsa for recurrent training. Also in attendance were Matt McNamara and Mike Carriker who are new to the Foundation and were there for initial training.
Pictured below are Gene Christian, Bill Brown, Rich Boom, Jim Skelly, Mike Carriker and Jim Gentry.
Pictured below are Gene Christian, Bill Brown, Rich Boom, Jim Skelly, Mike Carriker and Jim Gentry.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 13:55
Thursday, June 12
Our dedicated maintenance volunteers in Tulsa have been going over the Flagship with a fine tooth comb. Here are some photos showing them working and the results of their efforts. What a shame it will be to crank the engines next week and mess up that engine and get dirt on the fuselage. Many of our pilots will gather in Tulsa next week for recurrent training. Thanks so much guys, you have really gone above and beyond. These photos were taken by an American Airlines photographer, Byron Totty.
Added by Sheryl and Gene at 08:56