Saturday, February 26

Laredo Air Show February 8-9

George Dennis did such a good job of writing the piece, that I will present it mostly as he wrote it. A " man on the scene" presentation. I think they were too busy to take photos, sorry.

John Thatcher, Steve Jacobson and myself met at the Alliance airport early on Saturday morning of the one day (Sunday) event. We had plenty of time to make the two and a half hour flight and clean the airplane on arrival. We were planning to make a fuel stop enroute to find some "cheap fuel." We did not know much about what was planned for us as Zane put the deal together rather quickly.
John and Steve grabbed the best seats in the house, leaving me to serve coffee. With Capt. Jake in the left seat we broke ground around 10AM on a beautiful clear day and climbed to 2500 ft. We stopped at a little airport called Clermont about 22 miles south of Ft. Worth. On a Saturday there were plenty of lookers as Jake rolled on a smoothy on the south runway. We taxied up the the tanks and had plenty of help. All those guys drooling over the "Detroit" grabbed a pushing spot and pushed us back 50 ft to clear obstacles. Good thing, as our crew of three could not have moved it two feet!
It as a great trip except for a bit of a scare when Houston Center informed us the airport was closed for at least the next 5 hours. Just prior to leaving we were told by the airboss to come on down, there would be no problem. Turns out Houston was just following the FAA notems. It could have been interesting as there are not many airports in that part of the world. At any rate, Jake made another wonderful landing at Laredo International Airport...of course the wind was calm, who can mess up a landing when it was that nice....just kidding, Steve!
Now the real work started. Thatcher went off to get required credentials and most importantly, making arrangements for fuel and oil and getting paid. Jake stayed in the airplane getting things organized and cleaned up. I went to my favorite spot, the right wheel area and started to clean off the fresh oil off the struts that we manufactured on the trip down.
After about two hours we got in the rental car and headed to the No-Tell Motel. We were expecting something like the Motel 6, but were surprised to find a wonderful hotel on the square in Old Town Laredo. The place is, no kidding, right on the river looking across at Mexico. I was a bit nervous as there were a couple of killings the week before, but we found it to be safe and enjoyable.
The next day we met for breakfast and planned how to man the Detroit with just 3 guys. We figured not too many people would come out on a sunny Sunday in Laredo. WRONG!! We had thousands of people coming through the gates at a little after 10 AM. The official time was 11 AM, but the crowds were so large they opened early. Good thing they did as we had a line that extended from the door and around the tail for the next 8 hours. We posted ourselves as we do for every show: one in the cockpit, one at the rear, and one at the table. The problem, as you can imagine, is that we were unable to move for all that time. For every Mom or Dad that paid $3 to go in, there were 6 or 7 kids to follow. The beauty of this whole operation is this is what we are all about. I really do not know how many people visited the Detroit that sunny Sunday, but I know we had thousands of happy people when they left to go to another display. Our host for the show came up to me toward the end of the day and said, " You guys were the hit of the show." I told him that at every event I learn something and try to do better the next time. What I learned should be obvious, we will never again go to an event with only three people when the crowd is expected to be greater than 5000! As it turned out, the paper reported greater than 10,000 attended the event.
The next morning we again met for breakfast one more time prior to departing for Fort Worth and Alliance airport. Onve again, Jake took the controls and flew it back home at American Airlines after another successful outing for the Flagship Detroit DC-3. Next stop: Columbus, Georgia March 19-20, then ground school in Shelbyville. Sign up now.

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