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June 2018

29 years ago when we moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, I bemoaned missing the seasons.  “All we have here is Wet and Dry!” I said. Now, with the perspective that comes with age, I realize that what we have is IFR and VFR and lately, with a week of blue skies just past, it seems that we’re moving well into the glorious half year of dependable VFR flying weather.  Flyouts, pancake breakfasts, airshows, and just trips to places you’ve been thinking of all winter, are now possible.

Green River and Tri-Cities WPA chapters have conducted work parties getting Ranger Creek and Little Goose airstrips in readiness for traffic.  This is the wonderful kind of activism that maintains the infrastructure and is fun for the participants at the same time. Some planning, some tools, and a pot of chili are usually all that is required to convince a work crew to assemble and get things done.  Congrats and thanks to the organizers and all who participated.

Every time I drive to the Bremerton airport to visit my hangar, I pass through Gorst, WA, a small and unimposing community on the muddy end of Sinclair Inlet.  Quickly passed and easily forgotten except that this little community is a link to our past and how we aviate today. I was sorting through a box of donated books and ran across a page of what seemed to be notes for a talk.  The author noted that Vern C. Gorst was born in 1876, moved to Washington in 1888, went to Alaska in 1898, hauled mail by dogsled, then came south and bought his first plane in 1913 from Glen L. Martin (Martin flying boats and later, Lockheed Martin).  Soon after, Vern Gorst bought 4 Ryan M-1s to fly the mail up and down the west coast and established the Pacific Air Lines which became part of United Air Lines which we still fly today.

The teens, ‘20s, and 1930s were times of innovation, opportunity, and rapid expansion in aviation.  The facilities and equipment we use today all came from somewhere and we often take what we have for granted.

Having researched a bit of this I’ll think more kindly of Gorst on my trips out to the airplane. As today’s aviators, we stand on the shoulders of giants; all over Washington, on both sides of the Cascades, there are locations, memorials, and both large and small museums that remind us we didn’t invent this pastime we enjoy so much.  The small WWII B-17 museum at Ephrata, the Honor Point museum in Spokane, the Port Townsend Aero Museum, the Heritage Flight Museum at Skagit, as well as the large and well-funded museums at Boeing and Paine Field are all reasons for air outings and are easily flown into. They are wonderful reasons to take advantage of this flying season.

I’ll see you out there.

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