Monday, November 12

The Party Never Ends

Ah, Stuart, Florida where the road goes on forever and the party never ends. The adventure started with a media flight early Friday morning featuring Tony and Sheryl in vintage uniform and Gene as co-pilot. We had 18 passengers and a windy, but sunny day. The result of this was that Gene and Tony were featured on the front page of the Stuart News the next morning at the controls in living color.
Later in the day more of the crew gathered as Jake and Peggy arrived about the same time as Evelyn and Jim Skelly motored in from Tampa. Then off to the motel to check in quickly as the plane still needed to be spiffed and moved from one side of the airport to the side where the show will take place. And the Dirty Flight Suit Party starts at 4 PM.
 Someone snagged two tables for 8 in a prime location and the traditional parachutist with the flag was coming down as we arrived. We were served a very nice dinner and this year they increased the serving lines so that folks were served in a timely manner instead of a line snaking all around the tent. This is a fund raiser as well as a party for all the participants of the show. There were some nice and some amusing acts in the beginning, but there is nothing to compare to what happens at sundown and after. A Beech-18 covered in lights and billowing smoke trails performed a stunning routine accompanied by dramatic music and at the end of the song, doused the lights and disappeared into a cloud. Wow!  Later a helicopter launched fireworks from the air.  The wonderful Aero Shell aerobatic team of four did their act with lights on their planes and it is ten times better that way than in daylight. At the end there was a fantastic finale with scads of ground based fireworks and the huge line of fire at the end that reverberates in your chest with the explosion and warms your face with the heat.  What a party!  Thanks, Stuart Air Show!!
For the next two days we greeted hoards of happy people to our airplane. We had about 13 crew with the addition of the Chadwick family who joined at Stuart last year.  Bob Gross and his son,Riley were also there.  Many, many thanks to tireless worker Dennis Pugsley who also joined last year. Dennis has provided business cards for our captains, complete with photos of the Flagship on both sides, plus donated a 5 ft tall banner and luggage tags for us to sell. This year he donated stickers that we could give to the children and was the first one on the scene to help with unloading and set up. Judy DeSantis, decked out in vintage style, presented vocal accompaniment by singing many love and patriotic songs from the 1930's and 40's. New member, Gladys Goedhart, Bogota flight attendant, was there with a friend in tow, dancing with her boyfriend, Scott, who was showing President's Eisenhower's Air Force One. But we were by far the most class act on the tarmac.
Rosie the Riveter came by to count our rivets.
Saturday night, Tony and Judy DeSantis hosted the crew and many military men to a party at their lovely home.  This has become a tradition and this year featured a cake with a photo of the Flaghip on it. Almost too pretty to cut....ALMOST.
Sunday night 12 crew members gathered again at the DeSantis  Manor to work on party leftovers and have our first meal together of this weekend. There was a lot of lively debate, laughter and bonding. And many of us said our farewells to one another.
Bright and early Monday, we were on the move again. Our amazing Dennis Pugsley had booked a membership flight almost on his own.  The flight was totally full. Captains Bob Gross and Gene Christian were in the cockpit and Jim Skelly took the role of Stewardess.
After the flight, our remaining crew began to wend their ways back to their respective homes. This is the last mission of the year for our beloved Flagship and we will miss her and the camaraderie of her crew until we meet again.

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