Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sam Burgess Memorial Junket update - Fri 6/27/08

J.W. French has been providing e-mail updates from his around-the-country tour to meet members of EAA chapters.

The flight from Payson, AZ to Eagles Roost, AZ was a short one, but challenging. I climbed to 8500 msl to clear the mountains and flew for nearly an hour over extremely hostile country. There was nothing but mountains, rocks and beautiful country with absolutely no place to make an emergency landing. You just had to fly on faith in the engine.

Eagles Roost (27AZ) is about 25 miles west of Wickenburg, AZ at an elevation of of 2200 msl. The runway and streets had been newly paved so it was easy to identify. I distinguished myself by bouncing several landing attempts so badly I had to go around, before I finally greased a good wheel landing. I hadn't screwed up a landing and had to go around since Lufkin, TX and was just beginning to feel like I had the Acro Sport mastered.

I was met by my host Monroe Mc Donald, a retired electrical engineer. He had worked in the Dallas, TX area and knew Dick Gavin of Thorp T18 fame well. Dick was a close friend of mine. I spent many enjoyable RONs with Dick and his wife. I always looked for bad weather when I was close to Addison so I would have an excuse to spend the night with them.

Dick wrote the Thorp T18 newsletter for abount 25 years, and also wrote a regular monthly article for Sport Aviation for many years. Eagles Roost was also the home of Bill Warwick, who built the first Thorp T18, and is fondly remembered by many of the Eagle Roost resident that I met.

Monroe took me in to Wickenburg to see the sights and on the way I stopped and took a picture of the entrance sign to the abandoned airfield where Paul Poberezny took glider training in WWII.

The Wickenburg Chapter members gathered for a ice cream social this evening and asked me to share my memories of the life and times of Sam Burgess. I am still amazed at the number of people I meet who knew and respected Sam. One of the members of the chapter had judged aerobatic contests with Sam, and another had visited with Sam about the Allison turbine engine that Sam used on the second Bucker Jungmeister he built. This fellow is building a Seawind with a Pratt and Whitney PT6 turbine. What an awesome project.

One of the members, Bob Trewis EAA#2324, is still flying the Stitts Playboy he built in 1965, and there is a Thorp T18 that was built by the owner in 1976 that is absolutely absolutely gorgeous.

I will be leaving early in the morning for Hurricane, UT (1L8) General Stout Airport for an RON with Carlos Deuna, and I hope to get to Flabob Field (KRIR) on Sunday, for a visit with Conrad Nordquist and members of Chapter #1.

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