This post by Stirling Moore, one of our two 2015 LadiesLoveTaildraggers Scholarship winners, is a glowing testimonial about her experiences at Tailwheel Town and appreciation for the scholarship.
My time in Tailwheel Town
by Stirling Moore
I flew this morning. It was a gorgeous, bluebird day and I meanderedÂ over the county, checking livestock, water, fence lines, and tipping myÂ wings at neighboring ranchers as they went about their morning tasks on theÂ ground. I wandered until it was time to move cattle, then I landed andÂ hustled to saddle my horse.
Writing this post was on my mind the entire time. Every time I fly I’mÂ reminded how fortunate we are to have that option to wake up and do whatÂ we love, to be part of a wonderful community characterized by the joy andÂ passion for what we do!
I had been looking forward to my time in Oregon since Judy calledÂ me in the spring and let me know I had won the LLT TailwheelÂ Endorsement Scholarship. I was driving to take my instrument written test atÂ the time, and the great news prompted me to happy dance just as hard as myÂ seatbelt would allow, take the test, then hurry home and get in touch withÂ Brian Lansburgh. We decided on the first week of July, and back in April itÂ seemed as if my time in Oregon was an eternity away.
Luckily brandings, dockings, and online summer classes caused theÂ time to pass much quicker than I had expected, and I was riding to town inÂ the Sisters’ airport pickup with Brian before I knew it. I’ve always found theÂ supportive, kind nature of the aviation world to be absolutely amazing, andÂ from the minute I arrived in Sisters I knew I was in a special place with aÂ truly fantastic community. This feeling was bolstered every day during myÂ stay as I met and got to know those around me.
Brian and I started our flight training early the next morning after myÂ arrival. I was as nervous as I was excited to begin my taildragger experience,Â but Brian knew just what to do to put me at ease with his C140. We spent theÂ first few hours “shaking hands” with the airplane: taxiing a tailwheel,Â takeoffs and landings, doing “skydoodles” and other basic coordinationÂ exercises, and my personal favorite– proximity flying around an irrigationÂ pivot. This is the Tailwheel Town take on the “turns around a point”Â maneuver, and involves keeping up airspeed and a constant bank angleÂ around a circular field while remaining several feet off of the ground.Â I thought this exercise was so wild, SO fun, and I realized then that trainingÂ with Brian would be unlike anything I had experienced before in the very best way!
The Sisters Eagle Airport was abuzz with activity throughout my stay,Â but especially so in preparation for and during the 4th of July Fly-In. TheÂ event team had a bevy of excellent activities that day that drew people with aÂ wide variety of interests. The chicken drop (in which Brian and Julie BensonÂ made a low pass in the 172, flinging rubber chickens on a game square withÂ spaces associated with prizes as they went) proved especially popular, as didÂ the runway drag races later in the afternoon. Best of all, most of the proceedsÂ from the Fly-In went to the local high school Flight Science Program. IÂ thought this was a fantastic way to increase interest in and promote aviation,Â and I had a great time helping with the fly-in!
We resumed our flight training on the 5th, which happened to be myÂ 22nd birthday. Brian and I flew to Madras to practice three point and wheelÂ landings, performance take offs, the Tailwheel Town pattern, and my firstÂ dead stick landing! Brian really puts an emphasis on practicing emergencyÂ scenarios in a way that makes one comfortable, prepared, and in control ifÂ something was to actually happen.
We landed in Madras, where I had the pleasure of receiving a birthdayÂ serenade and maple glazed donut from the â€œMadPort Bums,â€ an entertainingÂ bunch of characters that meet at the airport every Sunday morning. We thenÂ strolled down the ramp to the Erickson Aircraft Collection for a neat tour ofÂ (still flying!) WWII aircraft. We returned to Sisters, and Brian taught meÂ how to hand prop. Though initially apprehensive, I felt comfortable handÂ propping within minutes thanks to Brian. Later, we capped off a fantasticÂ birthday with a lovely dinner with Julie and Benny Benson.
Brian had another treat in store for me on the 6th. We flew to PrinevilleÂ and had the opportunity to take Ed Elkinsâ€™ gorgeous Super Decathlon for aÂ spin. I donâ€™t think there is a word that properly conveys how fun thatÂ airplane was, so Iâ€™ll just leave it at this: WOW!
I was supposed to depart Sisters early on the 7th, but I had decided thatÂ I was having too much fun to leave just yet. Instead, I found myself in theÂ front seat of a J-5A Cub heading to Madras that morning for more landingÂ practice (a big thanks to Jay & Adam Haldeman for letting me experienceÂ their Cub!). We returned to Sisters, hopped in the 140, and headed back toÂ Madras that afternoon. While there, I got to do my second dead stickÂ landing, and Brian introduced me to landing in a turn and slaloming downÂ the runway. This reminded me of pole bending when I competed in highÂ school rodeo and I really got a kick out of it. Unfortunately, my time inÂ Tailwheel Town did have to come to an end, but not before a neighborhoodÂ barbecue at Brianâ€™s hangar. I enjoyed wrapping up my stay by chatting withÂ many of the wonderful people I had met!
Tomorrow morning I will catch the sunrise from the hangar before myÂ daily ranch check. Iâ€™ll wander over the ranch like I always do, looking forÂ anything awry to report to my ground crew before landing and starting theÂ dayâ€™s work. Since my time in Sisters something has changed, though. I noÂ longer fly just to fly, instead; I strive to learn something every flight andÂ have a fantastic time while doing so. In such a short time Brianâ€™sÂ phenomenal instruction has made me a more competent, confident pilot, oneÂ who is constantly looking to improve upon my base knowledge andÂ experience whatever I can along the way. Brian has taught me skills that IÂ will utilize throughout my life in aviation, and I cannot thankÂ LadiesLoveTaildraggers enough for the kindness and generosity extended inÂ awarding me this opportunity! In choosing me you all have broughtÂ something amazing and positive into my life.
See you at the nextÂ fly-in!!!!!!