Tuesday, March 22

Ground School

The area around Shelbyville, TN is one of the prettiest in the U.S., especially in the spring. The drive coming from the interstate goes through Bell Buckle, a historic little town with a lot to see and do and an excellent home cooking restaurant. This is is Tennessee walking horse country and there are GREEN, GREEN pastures, many with white board fences. Some are home to cattle and some to horses. Between the two towns, most of the way, there are thick clumps of daffodils lining the road.
Monday was supposed to be Newbie day at ground school, but no one showed. Not to fret, as others were arriving for the next day and there was plenty of catching up to do amongst these fly boys. Pilots never run out of tales to tell. And then there are those doughnuts.
Tuesday, the school convenes in the conference room at the airport at 8 AM and runs until around 6 PM. Gosh !! The odd thing is that when it is over, many of the participants stay and chat, so I guess they were not dying for it to end. Participating are: Tripp Drake, Dave Buffington, Tom Taff, Dave Gorrell and his brother, Fred, Steve Jacobson, Mike Martin, Joe Roberts, Bud Cushing, Blake Butler and George Dennis.
George reports that although he has been on the phone a good bit of the day trying to find a way to save it, the Seattle leg of our journey is dead. We are all disappointed. Current plan is to stay here until Saturday and then go back to Ft. Worth and stay until time to go to Los Angeles.
Eleven of us, including Peggy Fairchild and Sheryl Christian, adjourn to Legends restaurant for dinner and frivolity. (Believe me, if you have not participated in any road trips with the Flagship, you have not lived!) Somehow, we seem to boggle the staff at the restaurant, the food is good, but there are delays with some items, mis cues and whatever, but everyone is still having a good time.
Some folks live locally, some are in a motel, and some are staying in what is laughingly referred to George's "double-wide." This translates as a four bedroom, four bath log "cabin" about ten miles out of Shelbyville overlooking a lovely meadow which has a grass strip down the middle of it. Blake's house is on the next hill over.
On Wednesday, there is a morning briefing, pre-flight and then they are off to give some folks some "stick time." Well, up they go and very soon, down they come...uh oh. Seems a bracket on a cowl flap has given up the ghost.(See photo of diagnostic inspection) Luckily, George is on site and within minutes has a mechanic on the job. Before you know it, they are up and at 'em again. Time is off the essence as the clouds have moved in and storms are on the way, the wind is whipping.
On this day, Gene is mostly in the left seat and Tom Taff, Bud Cushing, and Fred Gorrell each get their three landings. David Gorrell gets four. Rumor has it that Gene pulled an engine out on one pilot, who detected a problem and did all the right things, but did not realize at first that it was an engine out. There was also a "bounce" incident on one landing which Gene takes responsibility for because he should have been more vigilant.
While the guys are working, Peggy and Sheryl are playing with an interesting tour of historic Bell Buckle. They have a long talk with the owner of an antique shop. Seems his parents bought the building 40 years ago (and he just turned 40) for $750 and made a living with it for years. Now he is running it and his folks are running the ice cream parlor around the corner. Lunch at the local eatery is a real treat....good ol southern cooking. Then it is off to Murphreesboro to Publix. We are cooking steaks at George's Blackberry Ridge home tonight. There are about 14 of us including Patti Cushing and George's son, Kyle. Kay Dennis is in Huntsville visiting the 7 week old grandson, Mason. Peggy does a wonderful job in an unfamiliar kitchen of creating a lovely dinner complete with appetizers. Tom Taff is a top notch kitchen assistant. Another great evening.

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