Friday At Empire Airport
I am a member of Benzie Area Radio Controlers, BARC's for short and we are located in Northern Michigan, just West and somewhat South of Traverse City Michigan. We fly at two full scale airports, Empire Airport, located just East of Empire Michigan and Thompsonville Airport, in Thompsonville Michigan just a bit east of Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. We lost our flying field two years ago and are in the process of trying to get the State of Michigan to let us use the old county dump, a process which is rather long and involved. Both full scale airports have been designated as places where model airplanes can be flown and we have radios that we monitor the airport frequencies with so we know when full scale planes are approaching.
One of our members had been in Cleveland Ohio for almost a week and returned home late Thursday night and wanted to fly on Friday morning. Claude called and so Fred and I headed to the airport. Claude had checked the wind, it was just right, by the time Fred and I got there, the wind was way too windy to fly. We waited for it to lay down, didn't happen.
We got a call on our radio, we keep a radio so that we know when full scale are coming in and we had a Comanche inbound. He landed and put his plane in the hanger, then a couple came out to us and said we would have a few pilots coming in. Since we couldn't fly, way too much wind for our models, we were happy to see some full scale planes. Well we had a Cesnna 172 land and then we saw them. 6 Stearmans were coming in. We were so excited. Each one landed, taxied over to where we were and then they chose to move to the other end of the airport. So we watched them taxi to the terminal area. The terminal is a large garage with desk, sofa, bathroom and that is it. This airport has a North/ South runway, 17/35 and just West of the runway are a row of trees that are about 70 feet high. They are about 200 feet away from the runway. The East/West runway is a grass strip, which we fly off of. We mow a lot of the airport so that we can use it. The airport authorty pays for the gas and lawnmower, but we mow much of it.
So here are the pictures of the Stearmans. They were on their way to Northport for a weekend. This was their third stop of the day. They had spent much of the day, flying along the coast and thrilling many people along the beaches and other places as they flew by.
Now the best part. As the pilots of the Stearman's came back from lunch in Empire, you will see an Azetc coming in for a landing. I thought he was way too fast for a landing, but what do I know. As he touched down and bounced up and touched down again, each time smoking the tires, he got the Aztec down, hit the brakes, I said, he is going to blow a tire. No sooner did I say it, you could hear the bang and the Aztec ended up blocking both runways. Now all the Stearman pilots went to see what we all could do. Finally the pilot of the Aztec said we could tow the plane back off the hard runway, that way the Stearmans could leave. So you see the ground crew, lifting the wing and slowly moving the Aztec back off the runway.
The Stearmans left and put on a show for all of us. I just loved the smoke and the sound of those engines is a thrill.
My wife, Susan shot the pictures and she was just as thrilled as I was to see these vintage planes. One was made just two months after I was born in March of 1943. Others were made in 1941.
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