Tuesday, August 21


Friendship is a strong emotional bond formed between people who have something in common.  In the case of the Flagship Detroit Foundation, the common interest is aviation with a side order of history. Many of us also have an abiding interest in seeking out the perfect Margarita, but that is a story for another day. Pilots seem to have an affinity for one another that is stronger than average.  They bond with lightning speed. One day Gene went to the airport for some reason and returned with Mike Womacks, who had planned to spend the night in his airplane. Mike stayed with us instead and by morning the two of them were like lifetime friends. Mike is an organizer of the Scottsboro Air Show (Alabama) and we see him when the Flagship participates in it.

The men and women who form the ever changing crew of the Flagship Detroit are a  very diverse and easy going group, of very high caliber and dedicated people, who know how to have a good time. One weekend last year, five of us dropped in to stay at the home of Dan and Debbie Gable in Huntsville, who many of us had not met. I believe that the two evenings spent in their home rank in the top ten of lifetime hilarity.
  This past weekend, Gene and I traveled to Murray, KY to the home of Trippe and Ann Drake for the purpose of getting and receiving check rides in another DC-3, 50J, owned by Ron Tallent. Ron and Trippe are involved in Dodson International which uses Ron's "3", as well as in the FSD and another outfit that flies DC-3s and 4s down on the Gulf to patrol for oil leaks. Martha Lunken, columnist for Flying Magazine and her friend, Bob Strunk, flew in from Cincinnati to participate in this exercise as well. Bob was a pilot for Lake Central Airlines some time back and after the other three had checked each other out, he was offered the chance to land the plane. He brought it in like a pro, as if it had not been more than forty years since he did it. Like riding a bicycle, I guess.
On the return trip we stopped in Shelbyville, TN and spent the night with Blake Butler, another FSD pilot. Blake lives out in the country on a lovely piece of land with a grass strip where FSD founder, George Dennis, also has a cabin.  Blake treated me to ride in his 1949 Piper Cub, which was a real thrill, especially on such a cool and lovely evening. Then we visited on his porch, listening to coyotes and watching shooting stars.
The next day we stopped by Suwanee and after driving through the campus, found a bakery/cafe and had excellent sandwiches on homemade bread.
On Thursday of this week, the Flagship will leave on a three week Western Swing going from Ft. Worth to Denver and eventually on to Seattle with many stops in between.  Most of the more active members of the Foundation will participate in parts of this trip and so it will be a reunion of sorts. We are all looking forward to the continuation of these friendships formed around a seventy-five year old airplane and know that we will all pick right back up where we left off the last time we were together. Friends are like that.

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