After the eclipse was finished we all traded contact info and wished each other well. As Dave and I walked back to the hotel with our cameras and tripods, the question was, sit in the cool room and drink beer all afternoon or go out into the 105-degree day and walk around. Driving was not going to happen as hundreds of cars were in the street going nowhere fast.
I mentioned that I thought I saw an airplane museum sign on the drive in and perhaps it was open. Dave checked on his phone and got the number and I called to find they were open until 5 PM. Admission $10 and P-51D rides $1000 for 30 min and T-6 rides $ 350 for 30 min.
|Bob Hoovers old airshow P-51D|
It was 1.8 miles from the hotel and got directions on how to walk there. So Dave drank 3 beers as we cooled off and thought about that great eclipse event.
So we then decided a long hot walk would be good for us. Idiots we were for that idea. The roads were still plugged up as we walked to the museum. When we got to the airport we saw some people were just having a bad day.
This sad event had just happened as we walked by. In a few minutes, the whole town would be at this airplane, eight police cars, two fire trucks, EMS and a K-9 unit.
We continued our very hot walk to the museum and I got into an argument with the admission guy. I was way too hot and you had to pay $ 10 before getting a look inside the hanger or learning what was there to see. Finally, after paying, I went inside to find five aircraft without any signs saying what they were. There was also no one in the hanger even though many cars were in the parking lot.
I walked back out to Mr Happy and asked for my money back. He said I made a one-time donation to the museum and they could not be refunded. I asked where the people were and he said they went to see the airplane crash that just happened. He suggested I look at the planes in the hanger and three planes out flying would be back soon and I would enjoy hearing those beautiful Merlin engines. That did sound nice and I went back inside to do just that.
He was correct, soon the purr of Merlins was filling the air. These are standard P-51D models so the back seat is just a seat for a mechanic or passenger. Great for a ride to experience what it is like to be in a real P-51. They have 3 of them flying.
Then a T-6 trainer came in and the pilot Shaun asked me if I wanted a ride. I asked how much and he said $ 350 cash or credit. I then asked if I could fly it. He asked if I was a pilot if I had any T-6 time and if I like acro, I answered yes to all.
|Beech 18 cockpit|
It was a great ride with a skilled airshow pilot and commercial airline pilot. After he started the engine, he let me taxi out and do run up. Then I was able to do a decent takeoff and climb out.
|Beech 18 a great airplane|
I climbed to ten thousand feet with a lot of clearing turns. Then he gave me speeds and I did an inside loop better than I thought and then a left aileron roll and then a right one very well. The instructor in Florida did a better job than I thought with me.
|Bell P-63 King Cobra|
Then the pilot took over and showed me maneuvers I did not know a T-6 could do. It is his signature airshow act and amazing to enjoy. It would take me a while to learn it as a lot was going on and key viewpoints would have to be known. It ended with close formation flying with a Bell 412 helicopter.
|Howard DGA 15|
The walk back did not appeal to me, so I hitchhiked with a young woman. After we were delivered to the hotel, my nephew had this to say about our ride back, ' you didn't get enough excitement in the airplane ride I guess.' That girl sure could drive a Chrysler 300M Hemi. All the traffic was gone by the time she drove us, a good thing as she used several lanes.