Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bombing the Sandland


The Second Annual Pond Branch Airfield Flour Bomb Chuckin' Invitational was a huge success!  Behold; the pictures!

South Ramp, Jellystone Air Park, Saturday morning, 0900 hours.  Waiting for the fog to burn off down at Pond Branch Airfield.

The EG and The Great Barbeau reviewing GPS procedures.  Back in December Brother Baker and I just used a chart and a magnetic compass. . .

The 4-21 Jellystone Transport Squadron, North Ramp, Jellystone Air Park.  By 1030 hours, reports from CAE, AIK, and Pond Branch Airfield indicated the fog was lifting.  All of the Jellystoners were airborne by 1100.

The Hatz and Luscombe launched first.  Brother Baker and I followed in the Cherokee 180 and passed the group abeam Chester, South Carolina.  We were able to get half of the target painted before the rest of the Jellystoners arrived.  Here we see Benny Zimmer and Brother Baker preparing the Drop Zone.

The safety briefing.

Let the games begin!

Team Baker-Zimmer.  "Bombs Away!"

Don Schmotzer's beautiful 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12D.

One of Don's bomb runs. . .

Pop Baker departs on his first mission of the day. . .

Team Cottom, Father & Son. . .

Team Cottom-Flett, with The EG about to release. . .

That look says:  It's a good thing we have day jobs!"

Pop Cottom says:  "Good luck Team Baker!"

Team Baker, Father & Daughter. . .

First pass. . .

Emma Baker about to release. . .

Leon Strock & his Baby Ace. . .  "Authorized" bomb run.

Leon bombed the field on arrival. . .

Eddie "Wrong Way" Price taxis out for departure. . .

84 Charlie rolls in on the target!

Our hosts, Eddie & Sandy Price.

Ron Lindsey, Senior Scorekeeper, with Eddie on the front porch of the PBA Operations Office.

Eight airplanes made the journey...

Official scorecard.  After it was all said and done, thirty bombs were dropped on Pond Branch Airfield.  That includes Leon's preemptive strike, and two from Pop and Colin Baker on their departure back to Rock Hill, South Carolina---the home of Jellystone Air Park.  As it turned out, the first sanctioned mission of the day was the one to beat.  Congratulations to Team Baker-Zimmer!

A proud Pop Baker photographs the winning team---Joe Baker & Benny Zimmer.

Gary Barbeau and Duncan Flett depart for Jellystone Air Park. . .

The Pond Branch Airfield Flour Bomb Chuckin' Gold Medal Championship Trophy.

Special thanks to Don Schmotzer for allowing me to use some of his photos!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Are you the Captain of this Spaceship?"

On the ride to the hotel in Tampa, Florida, last Saturday morning, the van driver started telling me about a convention that was being held at the hotel.  He said:  "We have all these young people dressed up as cartoon characters. . .  They are all very nice, but it's kind of weird."  I didn't really understand what he was going on about.  He was a very nice gentleman, but I was having a hard time with his thick Hispanic accent.  Not wanting to be rude, I just kept nodding my head and smiling---giving him the same looks I received years ago, while conducting a safety briefing for a planeload of non English speaking Japanese tourists.

The convention the driver was talking about was called Khaotic Kon.  It was a gathering of Anime (Japanese animation) enthusiasts, and sure enough; the hotel was packed with teens and twenty-somethings dressed up as Japanese cartoon characters---not something you see every day!  I could tell the middle aged guy from Omaha, Nebraska, that checked in behind me, was having a hard time wrapping his head around the sight of a Japanese cartoon hooker in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel!  I thought about helping the poor guy---by explaining how Khaotic Kon is to the Anime folks, what AirVenture is to pilots, only cheaper---but decided to let it go.  He probably would have just nodded his head and smiled at me. . .

This was not my first encounter with the Anime crowd.  A few summers back, I had a layover in Baltimore, Maryland, when the National Anime Convention (or whatever it was called) was in town.  The Inner Harbor was crawling with characters.  Like AirVenture, it was Khaotic Kon on a grand scale!

I don't know what is about the Doubletree Hotel chain, but it seems to attract the weird and unusual.  For instance:  Back in my 737-800 days, I had a layover at the Seattle Airport Doubletree Hotel.  It was Easter weekend and the hotel was hosting the West Coast Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival.  The best way to describe that scene is:  King Arthur meets Star Trek.  There were Starship Troopers and Knights with Fair Maidens everywhere.  Through the misfortune of seniority I attended that one twice!

Same hotel; two years later.  While waiting to be seated for breakfast one morning, I observed an exchange between tables that was most unusual.  At one table were four women who looked very startled.  All four were looking at a young woman seated at the table next to them.  I didn't hear the initial exchange, but I did hear the young woman apologize, and say she had Tourette syndrome.  That certainly got my attention!  Right away I had visions of the movie Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo.  I thought, WOW, this should be interesting!  Then we made eye contact. . .  She got up from her table and walked over to where I was standing, and asked:  "Are you the Captain of this Spaceship?"  At the time I was still a First Officer.  I pointed in the direction of the American Airlines captain that was waiting at the end of the line, and said:  "No ma'am, I believe it's that gentleman over there!"  She moved off in his direction at about the same time the hostess asked me where I would like to sit.  I pointed to the far side of the restaurant and said:  "How about way over there?"  Later, as I was checking out of the hotel, the young woman approached me in the lobby, and asked politely:  "Do you know if it is OK to be insane on this planet?"  I replied:  "Absolutely!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

The History of Pond Branch Airfield

From Eddie Price, Chief Pilot at Pond Branch Airways:

The land around Pond Branch Airfield has been in the family a long time.  Great, Great,  Great, Great Grand Dad moved here on Little Black Creek between 1803 and 1810.  He and Betsy (?) had 10 children that in 1850 were ages 47, 39,37,19,11, 11, 9, 9, 4, and 3.  The 47 year old was Great, Great, Great Grand Dad Adam Smith.  He built the house at the south west end of the R/W that double first cousin JW and Shelby live in now (we are Prices because our Dad’s married Smith sisters).  Adam and Mary Mollie had eight children.  The oldest Great, Great Grand Dad Samuel married Mittie and had one child before he joined the Confederacy.  The book the above information comes from says Samuel was wounded in battle north of Richmond and died in the Manchester hospital.  There is no other record of this however.   The museum of the Confederacy in Richmond did send copies of records where an H. S. Smith served and died in 1864 in Charleston.  H. S. Smith is on the Memorial at the Lexington County Court House.  Great Grand Dad Henry Roston Smith married Sallie and had 13 children that lived to be grown.  They lived on the pond downstream across I-20.  Second born was Grand Dad Jacob Paul Smith.  His first wife died after having one child and he remarried Anna.  They lived in Adam’s house where all the children were born.  My mom was Drucie, the baby.  When we visited Grandma & Pa as a kid it was Pond Branch Community.  Grand Dad died in ’57 and the land was split up 3 ways.  Aunt Ruby got the house and pond.  Mom took the track that was split in half by the interstate.  The south side went to Uncle Taft who sold it for $200 an acre.  Brother Regie has the land that you fly just over his pine trees approaching PBA 29.   Mom gave me the 20 acres for $5, love & affection when I got out of school.    I camped out on it most weekends until I decided to put down a well at the highest point on the property.  The circle drive was cut down to the dirt road.  A power pole was put up and I bought a 10’ x 45’ mobile home for $2,000.  Friends and I built the log garage in ’79.  A contractor built the house in 1980 and another contractor added on in ’02.

In the early ‘80’s I figured out where a runway could be but I needed the five acres which is now the east end.  It and 30 more acres across the dirt road were owned by a group of attorneys that wanted $1800 an acre.  I made them an offer of $1200.  After a year or two they accepted and I got 5 more acres across the road.  It took 20 years to get it cleared off, mostly one scrub oak and stump at a time.  I did have the pine trees cut and to finish up the neighbor used his big machinery to get the rest. Mid-Carolina buried the East end power lines for $5 per foot and 10 months later the west end for $10 per foot.   Metro Construction for $1800 motor graded the 4 acres and planted Bermuda in the spring of ‘8.  The hanger was finished in 2010 and 84Charlie made its first landing in May. 


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tax Prep

It was shaping up to be a quiet week.  Brother Baker was out on a trip, and The Great Barbeau was in San Diego, California, attending a UPS Store convention.  My Bride was delighted!  With the Brethren away; we could finish our income tax return---free from the distractions of Jellystone Air Park. 

Thursday morning, while Nancy and I were enjoying our coffee, I received a text message from Brother Baker.  It was a response to my question regarding the status of his current adventure.  The last time I heard from Joe; he was sitting in a hotel room in snowy Fairfield, West Virginia, waiting on an airplane to come out of a sixteen hour maintenance inspection---instead of enjoying the warm Florida sunshine, that he had packed his suitcase for!  That was Wednesday morning.  I was curious as to how things were going.

The message read:  "Cancelled!  Lunch?  Flying?  Both?"  He followed up with:  "Long Island?"  (Meaning Long Island Air Park, on Lake Norman, just north of Charlotte---a place we have yet to explore.)  "Jim's Cherokee?"  (Jim Rummery runs the maintenance shop at the Lancaster Airport, and has kindly offered us the use of his Cherokee 180.  Joe is planning on flying it down to the flour bombing competition at Pond Branch Airfield, next Saturday, since his father will be flying the Luscombe.)  I typed back:  "So you are in town?"  Joe's reply:  "Walking to the (employee) bus right now!"  At this point Nancy could see the tax window slipping away. . .

As we were pulling 43 Bravo out of the hangar, Joe asked where I thought we should go.  In true Baker style; I answered his question with a question.  "Are you hungry?  How about the 57 Alpha Cafe at Rutherford County?"  

Except for a few bumps, the weather was perfect---and the visibility outstanding!  The flight over took fifty-four minutes, block to block.  It could have been shorter, but we dilly-dallied some.  We circled a camping area south of Kings Mountain that Joe knew about.  It was a nice looking place---it reminded me of my Boy Scout days.  There is also a grass airfield northwest of Shelby, North Carolina, that warrants further investigation. . .

The ramp was full when we arrived.  So was the cafe.  After placing our orders, we found seats outside on the covered deck.  It was a little chilly in the shade, so we moved to one of the concrete picnic tables out in the sunshine.  While we were sitting there, a nice looking SNJ landed and pulled up to the gas pumps.  We were about to take a closer look, but our food arrived and our stomachs convinced us to stay put.  By the time we had finished our lunch (burrito and cheeseburger), the cafe was empty---as was the ramp.  The SNJ departed shortly thereafter.  He gave us a nice shot of smoke on departure!  Brother Baker's comment:  "There's a fellow who knows his audience!"

The flight back to Jellystone Air Park took forty-five minutes.   It was Joe's leg, and pretty much a straight shot.  There were a few more bumps to contend with, but the visibility was still spectacular!  All in all, not a bad way to avoid working on income tax returns!

Which one has the Crosswind Gear?


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Fools

Colin, Emma, and Joe Baker

Greetings Brethren!

The Jellystone Fools have been active this first week of April!  The weather was so nice Monday afternoon, Brother Baker and I decided to load up the kids (his) and visit the Bush-N-Vine Produce Stand in York, South Carolina. 

Colin rode with me in 43Bravo.

Emma rode with Joe in the Hatz.

Runway 18, York, South Carolina.

We now have lights above the work table at Jellystone Air Park!

Speaking of fools.  Tuesday's and Wednesday's project was hanging lights above the work table at Jellystone Air Park.   The reason they look a little bent is because I dropped one end while trying to adjust the trim on the longitudinal axis.  That little gaff set us back two hours. . .

After that it was lunch at the Ebenezer Grill in Rock Hill, South Carolina.