Saturday, July 21

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Just could not resist posting this one last photo of Al Blackman, since there were no good shots of him in the previous posts about the celebration at Kennedy.  Quite a dapper guy, no? This one came to me courtesy of Byron Totty, American Airlines corporate photographer.
The Flagship was a day late leaving Kennedy Airport due to weather. It launched on Thursday to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Kansas.  And that road, by necessity, kept moving further and further south as there were a myriad of thunderstorms to avoid.  First stop was for fuel in Somerset, PA where they were  greeted with much enthusiasm, invited to come back for an appearance, and may have picked up a benefactor. I hope to have more on that later.
Pushing on farther west, the group stopped for the night in Carbondale, IL, home of a branch of Southern Illinois University. This is where the foundation President, Zane Lemon, went to college and learned to fly in their aviation department.  The crew were met there by David NewMyer, who is current head of the aviation department and Zane's good friend. David was most helpful to our tired and hot crew especially in getting the plane fueled and ready for the next day.
Now the temperature was 104, and as the guys began to search in vain for a place to lay their heads they learned there was no room at any inn due to an antique tractor exposition that was in town. And sleeping in the plane was not an option at those temperatures. They finally secured a taxi to take them to the next town.  This was the original Yellow Cab, not washed since it was new, lacking air conditioning and only the driver's window rolled down...partially.
However, a motel was secured...a motel of vintage 1957.  At least it did have air conditioning, but the room keys were still  actual keys with the large plastic fob with the room number stamped on it. AND the nearest place for food was a hot dusty walk down the road aways.  But, hey, our intrepid crew marched on, whatever needs to be done to fulfill the mission.
On Friday, it was the last leg on to Wichita.  Zane was in the left seat and made his first DC-3 take off and landing.  I hear it was an admirable performance.  Too bad the whole crew was not there to give him an ovation.
In Wichita at Jabara Airport, we are hosted by EAA Chapter #88 and were received with an extremely warm welcome and offers of any kind of help we need plus monetary donations. Dave Buffington's son, Mike and his wife, Rita live here and will be passengers on the membership flight here. The plane will be open for tours and available for membership rides this weekend, and then the crew will take a break and go home for the week, before returning next weekend to go to Topeka for a gathering of DC-3s.

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