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  #101  
Old 08-21-2016, 05:28 AM
DCorwith DCorwith is offline
 
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Cool Very Inspirational

Very nice inspirational thread. God bless you.
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  #102  
Old 08-21-2016, 06:42 AM
BillL BillL is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV7Guy View Post
I'm am like many, captured by your story. I keep hitting the down arrow looking and wanting more. Absolutely the best writing to ever hit these pages.

Regarding the police officer in Starbucks, I believe he was asking if you were working "undercover." In those settings, there are many officers not in uniform walking the streets and integrating into the crowds to have more eyes on what is happening. They need coffee too!!!
My thoughts exactly, all of them. Do consider publishing in some form, this is America.
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Last edited by BillL : 08-21-2016 at 06:44 AM.
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  #103  
Old 08-21-2016, 01:30 PM
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colojo colojo is offline
 
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Scott, you have a gorgeous 8! I'd love to see a pic of your panel.
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  #104  
Old 08-21-2016, 05:15 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default 22 July: Wabash, IN

After the long morning nap on the floor of the upstairs snooze room at Classic Jet Center, my clothes were dry and I felt refreshed enough to make good on my transient nature; the Dove was ready, and so was I, to blast out of the Lost Nation area and into the great unknown. Once again, I said my farewells to my friends at Classic Jet Center, then packed up, preflighted, cranked over, and back-taxied to the end of runway 23.

The weather conditions were marginal at best. After takeoff, I had to scud-run for about 50 miles, first to the WEXER intersection, then on to RITZS. After that, I was pretty much able to point the nose up and rise above the curling remnants of the night before.

A straight 185-mile leg, taking me just 10 miles south of Fort Wayne, planted me in the middle of a large swath of soybean, corn, and hay fields. Wabash, Indiana (IWH), would be a welcome respite from the night before. It felt good to be out in the country again:



Ken, the airport attendant, was more than eager to help me out with fueling tasks and tieing down. It was a Friday morning, and a gentleman in a Piper Scout was filling up his bird ahead of me on the way to Oshkosh from Florida. After the requisite wipe-down of the Dove, I went into the terminal building to get my bearings. When I went into the restroom to relieve myself, I knew I was in the right place. The famous Alberto Vargas painting entitled, There'll Always be a Christmas, hanging today in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., and alluded to here in Wabash, put a smile on my face:



The terminal building itself was spacious and comfortable, with a map of the entire city of Wabash painted on a wall:





While Ken was pointing out various landmarks and places to eat on the wall map, the subject of where I was planning to stay the night came up. I told him that I didn't know, that I was flying around America and that I had a tent and all the fixins for a good camp-out if need be. I then asked him if the terminal building had after-hours access. He said that it did not.

He gave me a set of keys with kind of a smirk on his face, and told me to enjoy myself in Wabash. I wondered why he was smiling at me. When he took me to the door, I kind of understood why:



The classic Econoline party van had no air conditioning, and it was already turning out to be a blazing hot day. Humidity was high, and the sun was out in force; nevertheless, I was thankful for having wheels into town. I was hungry and didn't feel like eating backpacking food that morning.

I drove into town enjoying the sights and smells of the country along the way. The open roads of Indiana filled my party van with the perfect breath of American freedom:



I had a quick burger and shake at a local Penguin Point, then headed back to the airport. About that time, Jeff, the airport manager and a former F-18 fighter pilot, entered the building. Ken introduced us, telling him about my mission around America. He asked Jeff if it might be possible for me to stay the night in the FBO.

"Hmmm," mumbled Jeff with uncertainty. He was a large man in his early 40's with a strong build of authority. "We've never really done that before."

Ken interjected. "We have that bunk bed in that room right there. Why can't he use that?"



Jeff looked back at me and asked what my political affiliation was. I told him. Then he said half-jokingly, "If we find anything missing tomorrow, we're gonna come looking for you." Then he opened the door to the room and started clearing the floor, carrying out a large radio-controlled biplane and placing it on the far side of the FBO.

I wanted the bottom bunk. The T-28 Trojan got the top.

I told Jeff and Ken that I wanted to go back into town for a haircut and a shave. Jeff told me where the barber shop was, and that I had better hurry because the place was always packed with customers, and plus, they would be closing soon.

Ken wrote down his name and number on a piece of paper. Handing it to me, he said, "We'll leave the door unlocked for you. If you need anything, give me a call. I can make it out here in about ten minutes or so."

It was a good thing Ken gave me his phone number. I would be needing it.

Meanwhile, the City of Wabash, Indiana, greeted me for the second time that day. I needed to have my head shaved, my beard trimmed, and my explorative desires tickled.



Wabash did all that for me. And then some.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 08-21-2016 at 05:21 PM.
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  #105  
Old 08-21-2016, 06:10 PM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Chastain View Post
Wabash did all that for me. And then some.
Aww man, he leaves us with a cliffhanger!!!
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  #106  
Old 08-21-2016, 07:45 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default 22 July: Wabash, IN (cont.)

When I drove the party van back into Wabash that afternoon, I expected to stay awhile. There was a huge invitation to explore the town plastered boldly on the entire face of a large building as I entered:







As it turned out, however, I wasn't able to stay nearly as long as I would have liked. With a little ignorance on my part, adding a mechanical misstep and a little Wabashian weirdness sprinkled in, a recipe for an early departure back to the airport began cooking as soon as I had my head shaved.

Center Court Barber Shop in downtown Wabash was precisely the kind of place I was looking for. It was locally owned and operated in the classic American barbershop tradition:



Just as the airport manager had described earlier, the place was packed with customers, and I waited about an hour before my turn was up. Jeff and Kyle, the proprietors, had the movie, Lone Survivor, playing on the set when I entered. I was more entertained during the wait, however, by the conversations that took place throughout while watching the barbers perform.

Kyle called me over to the far seat to be the final customer of the day. I told him what I wanted, and that day I got the best noggin shave ever: Hot towel to open the pores, a good slathering of hot shaving cream coating the scalp, and a freshly sharpened open blade hot off the leather to bring it all home. Kyle knew what he was doing, that was for sure.

They asked me where I was from. I told them I was from California, that I was in the process of flying a mission around America in a plane that I built 8 years ago. Suddenly, our conversation became much more engaged. They shared with me a lot of good information about Wabash, including a brief history about its being considered somewhat of a "dump" only a few years ago, to being resurrected to a tiny boomtown with new small businesses that were flourishing. Center Court Barbershop had become a centerpiece model of that resurrection. Jeff and Kyle gladly claimed their Christian roots as owners of the small business, even at the national level where Center Court had recently been recognized.

We talked about the storyline of Lone Survivor, passionately validating the heroes involved in a true Navy Seal story set in Afghanistan. I had read the novel a few years earlier and could not put it down. But now, my friends and I were exalting the characters in the movie for their incredible bravery and sacrificial acts, all for the sake of Freedom with a capital "F."

After Kyle trimmed my beard and I paid my bill, the other barber, Jeff, handed me a silver-colored Sharpie pen. Because I was a first-timer to the shop, he asked me to sign my name on one of the walls set aside for that purpose. I did so, thanking my new friends as I left.

That's when things got kind of weird. I walked across the street to where the van was parked. Climbing in, I started it up, put it in drive, and pulled forward out into the street. The wrong way. On a one-way street. Then the engine died, leaving me sitting there like an idiot in the middle of downtown Wabash. Cars were trying to pull around me, the drivers giving me looks that were fully deserved as I vainly tried to get the engine running. It would start, but as soon as the transmission was engaged, the engine sputtered and quit.

That's when the people from the bar right next door to Center Court came running out. The leader, a woman in her late 30's, either the owner or the bartender, was screaming bloody murder at me. Her followers, about 5 other men, did the same. It was quite obvious that they were all inebriated. When the last car managed to squeeze by me, they came running up to the van. The woman, still screaming at me through the window, told me what an idiot I was, and in the same sentence, said that she wanted to help me.

She was right. I certainly felt like an idiot. So I calmly thanked her as best I could and put the van in neutral, at which point the team of bar patrons pushed the van back into the parking lot as far as they could:



The woman and her followers then invited me over to the bar for a drink on the house. Kyle and Jeff from Center Court came out to offer encouragement. It was clear that they all knew each other. The woman told me not to listen to them. "They're fake Christians!" she said. "Don't listen to them! They're fake Christians!"

After the van was parked and everyone went back inside, I took the piece of paper that I had in the van and called up Ken. He drove into town about ten minutes later. When I described the van's symptoms to him, he asked, "Did you switch tanks?"

"Huh?"

Apparently, the Econoline had two tanks, and the one I was on had gone dry. Ken reached into the van, cranked a lever under the dash, and started it up. It ran just fine, even with the transmission engaged. Back in the driver's seat, I followed Ken to the airport:



After we arrived, Ken suggested that I put the Dove in a hangar for the night. There were thunderstorms in the forecast, and he had plenty of room in a hangar across from the ultralight club. I agreed, thanking him for his generosity and hospitality:



He left me, alone and with an entire airport all to myself, promising to be back early in the morning to help Jeff and others set up for an EAA airport day and fly-in they were hosting.

That night, as the rotating beacon cast its beams across the tarmac, over the crops, and beyond the black abyss of infinity, I walked the length of the runway and beheld the beauty of the Wabash countryside. Never in my life had I witnessed so many fireflies in one place as I did that night. It was as if I were witnessing the steady strobing of the heavens here on earth below, and I in their midst was but a man bound to become the dust from which I had sprung. The warm wind carried the fireflies gracefully over the asphalt of the runway, and eventually, I drifted with them into the terminal building.

The lower bunk was welcome. I slept soundly.

As promised, Ken, Jeff, and others arrived early and began setting up for the fly-in:



Ken opened up the hangar for me. After thanking him and Jeff for their graciousness, I pushed out the Dove, prayed a blessing over the dusts of Ghana, and climbed aboard:



The westward call continued with flaps raised, induction primed, and propeller cleared. Once again, it was crank time.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 08-21-2016 at 11:21 PM.
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  #107  
Old 08-22-2016, 06:50 AM
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BlackhawkSP BlackhawkSP is offline
 
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Default Discovering America

Scott:

If you put these into a book with all the pictures and your excellent writing skills, I think it would sell a LOT of copies. Great job. God's speed, blue skies, and tailwinds to you.
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  #108  
Old 08-22-2016, 11:04 PM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default 23 July: Litchfield, Troy, IL

A red gyrocopter was doing touch-and-goes before I cranked over that morning. It departed the area just as I back-taxied down runway 18 and to the departure end of runway 27. After takeoff, I climbed up to 6,500' MSL until I met a scud layer at that altitude, then climbed up to 8,500'. The air was heavy with heat and moisture at the lower altitudes. It was another high-flying day:



I set a 203-mile course to the west-southwest, landing after just over an hour at Litchfield, IL (3LF). I chocked the Dove and found myself alone, at least for the time being, at an airport that not only had great fuel prices, but appeared to have after-hours access as well. Planted in another rural American setting, sowed just south of the town itself like an extension of interstate highway, the airport in its quaint beauty captured my heart the moment I set foot on the tarmac:



For a time, I sat in the FBO by myself exploring my options. There was a long couch in a meeting room that invited me in, bags and all, and I brewed a cup of coffee as I looked into the possibility of getting around by car. There was a courtesy vehicle parked outside, but I couldn't find any keys or sign-out sheet for it.

Just then, a couple in a Bonanza landed and taxied up to the fuel farm. As the pilot topped off, his wife came into the FBO, sat at the computer, and began checking weather up north. They were on their way to Oshkosh, and things were not looking good for them; thunderstorms were ruling the day up there. Some time later, the husband entered and confirmed his wife's findings. The pilot elected to divert somewhere well to the south of OSH to wait out the weather.

As they were leaving, a Mooney pilot landed for fuel. He entered the FBO, too, and asked about the RV-8 outside. When I told him about my mission around America, he and his partner gave me a great tip. Since the Enterprise car rental outlet in Litchfield was closed on Saturday, he recommended I fly about 26 miles south to his home base, Shafer Field (3K6). I would easily be able to rent a car from Enterprise at their Glen Carbon outlet, about 15 miles from the airport. I thanked the Mooney pilot and his friend for the tip, and soon after, they departed.

I reserved an economy class vehicle online at Enterprise, Glen Carbon, for a 2:00 p.m. pickup. Meanwhile, by 11:00 a.m., I felt like a good old-fashioned American breakfast, so I walked into Litchfield to enjoy the rest of the morning in small town U.S.A:

Unbeknownst to me, I had landed smack dab next to one of America's most beloved highways of old. It was now replaced by Interstate 55:



Following the old route most of the way into town, I found a great little greasy spoon right on the cusp of Litchfield proper. Stacey's Rt. 66 Cafe was just what my belly craved:







I had a 4-ounce ribeye steak and eggs, country-style potatoes, and a side of biscuits and gravy. I sat back for awhile and sipped my coffee with satisfaction. Yeah. It was good to be an American with a gut full of food again.

When I walked back to the airport, somebody was there waiting for me. He was reading a Trade-a-Plane and eating candy from a tray:



A local Vietnam War veteran, he asked me if that was my plane out there. He wanted to know what kind of plane it was. He had never seen one like it before. He also wanted to know where I was from and what I was doing there. I told him about the Dove and about building it, that I was flying a mission around America, and that I was just about to pack up again and head out. He shared a few stories with me about his experiences in Vietnam, about some of the planes he knew more about.

I told him it was good talking with him as I left. He sat there inside the FBO, and through the distorted reflections on the glass outside, I saw him watching me preflight the airplane. He was still sitting there eating candy as I taxied out for departure.

In less than ten minutes, I was on the ground just outside of Troy, IL, at Shafer Field, also known as St. Louis Metro-East:





There were two signs posted with a clear message, one on the window of the little shack, another staked firmly in the ground near the exit.



I read the signs and felt a little guilty for some reason. There certainly weren't any adults around that I could see---at least not now. And I was a little kid at an airport all to myself again.

I hauled out my bags and wandered toward the door of the little shack.

What was in there? And whom might I meet?

I opened the door and stepped inside to find out, and by so doing, slipped gracefully through the portals of time and into the blurred glimpses of eternity.
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RV-8 N898W Descending Dove

Last edited by Scott Chastain : 08-23-2016 at 12:27 AM.
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  #109  
Old 08-23-2016, 09:14 AM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Chastain View Post
Jeff looked back at me and asked what my political affiliation was.
I'd say you pretty much discovered America 2016.

On another subject, this story is as compelling as Rinker Buck's Flight of Passage. I see your turn in the "Author's Corner" at Oshkosh coming.
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Last edited by LettersFromFlyoverCountry : 08-23-2016 at 09:20 AM.
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  #110  
Old 08-23-2016, 09:23 AM
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Danny King Danny King is offline
 
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Default Wanting more

Like everyone following your journey, I feel like I'm reading each chapter of a book as it's being written. When I realize that's all for now, I'm left with a hunger for more. Was that your plan? Leave them wanting more. Well, it's working! Dang it! It's August 24th. You must be home now, and are probably back in the classroom teaching the nation's youth. I hope you can share: "What did you do this summer?" with those young minds.
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