Saturday, April 2

Midland, Ho!

On Friday, Gene and Jake drive to Alliance with most of our luggage. There they meet up with Zane Lemon, Robert Stack and John Thatcher to complete a 30 hour inspection of the plane and do last minute prep for departure.

Saturday morning we are truly at Alliance at dawn....see photo. Today's crew are Zane Lemon, Dave Buffington, Steve Jacobson and Gene Christian. Cabin attendants: Peggy Fairchild and Sheryl Christian. We are in the air at 8 AM and on the ground in Sweetwater, TX one hour later where the fuel is cheap. We are treated royally. They are so happy we are there though the place is modest and the landscape sparse. This is a goodwill tour and so we treat everyone to free Flagship hats. The weather is pleasant and breezy. This was training base for the WASPS in WWII. They call someone to open the museum for us and we have a tour. It was a fascinating story of young women who were real pioneers in aviation in that day. The Flagship was here three years ago for a WASP reunion and they will have another in May. Steve Jacobson flies most of the trip. We flew over airfields where Zane and Buff had trained as cadets and they recalled those days.

This unexpected treat has put us behind schedule for Midland, but we arrive after a bumpy one hour flight to find it hot and windy. All we saw on the way over was wind farms and oil wells. We arrive about 1PM and are not treated royally. We have no help parking, no help with luggage and give out no hats. However, the FBO is spacious and well decorated, featuring metal sculptures of oil and ranch life. We are pretty hungry but the restaurants at the terminal and FBO are closed on weekends. So we catch a shuttle to our hotel where we find the restaurant is closed on the weekend. Apparently the Midland diet is you do not eat on the weekend. We shuttle back to the airport and get a taxi to the Commemorative Air Force Museum.

This museum is large, spacious and modern. The exhibits are very well done, many have audio and video enhancements. There is a nice water conservation garden. The guys area a little disappointed that many of the planes are not there. We guess they are out doing air shows. One really neat thing is their collection of WWII nose art saved from scrapped bombers. The paintings are pretty racy and revealing, with suggestive titles, but they are such a big part of the life of that day and how wonderful that someone thought to save them. The artists, many of whom were just GIs, often copied pin-up art of the day, sometimes removing the clothes from the clothed originals or making other changes. They have undergone restoration and look like new. Photos are not allowed in the gallery.

Finally, finally at 3PM we arrive at Texas Roadhouse for a very satisfying meal, along with libations, laughter and more flying talk. Today the topic is life behind the scenes working for the airlines and we hear some interesting stories. Our taxi returns us to the hotel for a little rest before the men again meet up for beer and yet more flying talk. The plan is to leave early again tomorrow to avoid some of the bumpy air. Destination: Tucson.

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