Saturday, March 19

Thunder in the Valley

The Detroit left Ft. Worth at 8 A.M. Friday morning bound for Covington, Georgia with a stop in Shelbyville, TN to pick up Blake Butler. Crew were Zane Lemon, John Thatcher, Steve Jacobson, Jeff Selby and Bob Gross. Passengers were American pilot Robby Clyburn and his father and Jim Brown. All of them are new members courtesy of Bob Gross.

In Covington, John, Robby and his father deplaned while Gene Christian got on. Robby's father had pre-positioned a car in Covington and drove home. Sheryl Christian loaded up Thatch and Robby and headed for Hartsfield where Robby had left a car and John would catch a ride back to Dallas. Sheryl then headed south on I-85 to meet the Flagship in Columbus. Gene advised Sheryl to get off at exit 7B, alas, there was none, so she got off at 6 to do a U-turn. Looking to the left she spotted a smiling woman waving frantically and after seeing Gene in the back seat realized it was Peggy Fairchild who had met the plane in Columbus. They, too, were doing the U-turn. We soon found ourselves in the largest Holiday Inn we had ever seen. One needed to drop crumbs when headed for the lobby as you might never find your way through the maze.

After a brief rest, we were off to the airport again for a BBQ dinner in a hanger. It was very good ribs and pulled pork cooked right there on site and served with all the trimmings. We all sat around catching up for awhile then headed back to the bar at the hotel to swap more lies. But we turned in early as we were back at the airport by 8AM to clean the plane. At 9 we broke to enjoy a full breakfast catered by Waffle House before opening the plane at 10.

The plane was parked right by the fence along the runway with the wing hanging over and unfortunately there was a loud (really loud) speaker right there also. See the photo at top for our original position. Because our door is on the right side, we faced the fence and people had to walk around the plane to enter. This was further hindered by people setting up chairs along the fence and in any available shade which meant under our wings. The awkward set up meant we did not have a lot of traffic. Fortunately, at noon they moved us to a position facing the taxiway in preparation for flying. And so we moved our table, tent, chairs and boxes of merchandise twice. But now we were away from that speaker and our open door faced the oncoming crowd.

So things picked up for awhile, but in less than two hours, they towed the plane out for a fly-by. So we moved all the stuff again. The photo at right was taken by Bob Gross from the hatch in the cockpit where the people on duty up there could see the air show when things were slow, as they often were. There was a nice flight during which the announcer told the history of our plane while playing 1940's music. As the Flagship was turning off the runway, the air boss came on the radio and complimented Captain Gross's landing and added that an old war bird pilot on the stand with him had also commented what a nice landing it was.

When they rolled the plane back in, it was in a slightly different postion, so for the fourth time, we moved all our stuff. And finally, we moved it back into position next to the airplane. Counting setup and take down, we moved all our gear six times today. Tomorrow should be a little better as we will start in position to taxi. Thank goodness there were nine of us to do all the hauling, though most of the men were also involved in helping the tow truck by pushing the plane this way and that. Tune in tomorrow when we hope to have some photos to share.

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