Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fly In Breakfast

I had just pulled off my driveway, and a flash of lightning caught my attention. Off in the distance I could see a thunderstorm silhouetted against the horizon. After stopping to pick up a coffee at Tim's, I was off and running south on the Deerfoot. The time was not yet 5:00 am as I worked my way south, keeping a eye on the thunderstorm. It was a good sized cell with towering cumulus reaching high in the early morning sky. Once I had satisfied myself that it was of no threat to me, I relaxed as I drove along enjoying my coffee.

I actually had a destination in mind, that being a fly-in breakfast being held at the AJ Flying Ranch located near Nanton. This annual event is co-hosted
by the Bomber Command Museum located in Nanton, and the AJ Flying Ranch. They would be serving breakfast starting at 8 am, but before that happened I had 3 hours to myself, and I planned on driving down to Chain Lakes south of Longview via highway 22 and then cutting across on highway 533 over to Nanton.

I enjoyed the drive with stops made for photographs whenever I observed something of interest for my cameras. The skies were not at their best, probably due to fires burning somewhere, creating a haze that obscured the Rockies somewhat, although it made for a interesting landscape. Before long and after several stops for more photo ops, I arrived at the junction of the 533 near the campground on the shores of Chain Lakes.  Its funny where the time goes, as I thought I had all the time in the world to get to the fly-in, but as I headed east from Chain Lakes, a glance at my watch showed the time to be 8:05 am, and I still had 50 kilometers to drive before arriving at the fly-in. Now in theory I had a lot of time to arrive and get breakfast, but if I made anymore stops for photo-ops, that could push my arrival back.

I managed to make several more stops for pics that I couldn't live without, but once I pulled on to highway 2 and headed north, I made good time and arrived at the AJ Flying Ranch just as a beautiful yellow World War II vintage Harvard touched down on the runway. Once I had my truck parked, I grabbed my camera kit and headed over to the flight line. With the start of a beautiful morning, the aircraft were arriving from all parts of southern Alberta one after another. There were two hot air balloons in attendance as well as 3 Harvards, a Stearman, a Gypsy Moth, as well as a vintage Chipmunk owned by my friend John VE6XI who I would meet up with after I got my initial fix of acquiring aircraft photos. There were a large number of homebuilts in attendance, including one that did a high-speed fly-by over the field, with a sharp climbing turn as he set-up for his final approach to the runway. What a beautiful airplane as he taxied in and parked with the growing number of arriving aircraft. 

I finally put my camera down and headed for the chow line, where the smell of pancakes and frying bacon drifted across the apron in front of the hanger. Once I had my plate filled, I found a spot at one of the tables set up just inside the open hanger door. I sat down and soon John came over and joined me as he had noticed me as I came in and sat down. It had been some time since I had last seen John, and we had a pleasant visit before he and I parted company, with a promise to have coffee soon at the Heritage Inn in High River, where a group of fellow ham radio operators meet for breakfast on Saturday mornings.
It was announced that the Harvards would take to the skies, and I walked down to the area bordering the runway, looking for that strategic spot that would give me un-obstructed views of the runway, as well as the Porcupine Hills shimmering in the distance. Before long the sound of a Jacobs 9 cylinder radial engine broke the silence, as one Harvard,and  then the second one roared to life. Now the sound of a noisy airplane engine might not do it for you, but if you like airplanes, there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of a radial engine as it fires up, and then once the engine is warmed up, the aircraft, and in this case a Harvard with its 600 horse power Jacobs radial engine accelerates down the runway before clawing its way into the sky.

The morning went by very quickly and way to soon aircraft began departing for the return flight to their home fields. On that note, I loaded my gear into my truck and headed north towards Calgary. I already have promised myself to return next year, as it was a lot of fun, and that's what it is all about. Ya gotta love it.

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