National Travel Air Reunion/Homecoming, Wichita, KS - 2015
... Continued from Home Page
After some phone calls I find that at least five Travel Air's are coming but sometime tomorrow. Some will not be coming because mechanical problems or weather or family issues. I encourage them to come in person without their Travel Air's anyway they can if possible, remembering that the people are just as important as the aircraft. By the end of the day Thursday all five Travel Air's have arrived with John Mosley making a grand arrival a few minutes after sunset to everyone's cheers! In addition, Jim Rezich arrives in his beautiful yellow Culver Cadet and others have driven in or flown in commercial. All the aircraft were put in hangars for the night due to the uncertainty of the weather. All is well!
Friday it is off by car to the Kansas Aviation Museum for a tour and after lunch to the Beech factory tour including the old Travel Air factory which is still in use. Emil Bergquist arranged the Beech tour which was very much enjoyed by all. Thank you Emil! Both tours were very enlightening and a trip back in time. Next it is back to Stearman Field for a presentation by Hank Galpin on the restoration of his Travel Air 6000 and a presentation by Bert Zimmerly on his family's use of Travel Air aircraft over the years. It is now 9pm and time for dinner at the restaurant on the field. No flying today as the winds are still blowing.
Saturday morning it was bright and clear with light winds... hurrah! Today we are scheduled to fly out to Jabara Field, only about eight miles away, and show our aircraft to the public. The local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, was notified earlier and they had a small article in the paper about it on Friday. After a briefing, passengers are loaded, engines are started and we are off. With Hank Galpin in his 6000 leading it was like a mother hen leading her chicks across the road... what a sight! We do a fly-by of Jabara and enter the pattern and land. They are expecting us and we are right on time. Slowly people start coming, the paper reporter is there, current and former Beech employees are taking pictures and telling us their stories. One guy wants to give Hank old factory photos, others want rides. I meet Walter Beech's daughter, Mary Lynn Olive, and she wants to know about each Travel Air. We tour the line and thanks us for bring the aircraft to Wichita. At 3:30pm it is back to Stearman Field. After landing Hank Galpin and David Mars give "thank you" rides to many people which was greatly appreciated based on all the smiles I was seeing.
Everyone pitches in setting up tables and preparing the meal with special thanks to Jim Rezich for getting all the food. The program includes handing out signed memento to each who brought their Travel Air, a auction (which included selling Roni MacPherson's breakfast burrito by the way) and a presentation by our guest Jack Pelton on what EAA is doing for general aviation. It was a great day!
Sunday it was time for everyone to head home. At the motel we see that the Sunday paper has a very nice article on our Saturday fly-out to Jabara Field. It was very well written which was a little bit of a nice surprise. I go out to the airport and thank everyone for coming and wish them a good flight home. It was the end of a special and rare event. Fifteen years earlier was our last Homecoming and it will be another 10 years before the next one. Hope you will be there for that one!
Special thanks to Hector Camacho for hosting us and arranging hangar space for all our aircraft. And for Ed Phillips for doing a lot of the early leg work. It was a fine Homecoming. For me there were more adventures on the way home including a stop at Dan Murray's place in Longmont, CO and getting to fly with him in his Travel Air over the beautiful Colorado country side.
The Homecoming did not end when I got home because a few days later I get a surprise in the mail, a book from Mary Lynn Oliver that she produced. The title is "The Barnstormer and the Lady: Aviation Legends Walter and Oliver Ann Beech" by Dennis Farney. I must admit that I knew very little of Walter and Oliver Ann Beech and the battles they worked through to make the success of Travel Air and Beechcraft and become legends in their own time. The book was real eye opener and I recommend you get a copy... you can find it on Amazon.