Saturday, 31 August 2013

PETER’S USA – PART 9

Minnesota and family history heaven

Back at Winneconne with my homestay hosts, the Stoinskis, we go to a local restaurant and bar for Wisconsin’s traditional Friday fish, and early the next morning they farewell me as my return journey to New Zealand begins.  I couldn’t have wished for better hosts.
The Stoinskis of Winneconne, Wisconsin

Today I’m driving to Minnesota, the state of 10,000 lakes. Its twelve years since I was in Minnesota, briefly, with no time to meet any of the many name-sakes that live in the state.

As I drive the back roads to Minneapolis the dairy scenery is a lot like home, but I notice two differences; here I see big red barns everywhere to house the animals during the bitter winters and there is more cropping to provide food when the grass stops growing. By comparison, the grass on New Zealand’s dairy lands grows 10-11 months of the year and slows a little for another two or three.

At St Paul I stop to call my cousin, Jerry (seven generations removed) and he gives me directions to Prior Lake, and says it will take another 45 minutes. The twin cities cover a vast area and maybe the lakes and parks have a lot to do with that. I like it here.
Blakeborough brothers and cousins at Prior Lake

The GPS takes me right to the door and Jerry and Videl come out to meet me. It’s a warm welcome to their lovely home in a park-like setting. We are family, but not family, with all those generations separating us. I wonder if we will find things that we have in common. We do.

They met my sister Joan several years ago, and they know about my late brother Don and his family tree. They are in the tree. But there is more.

They have a good knowledge of the Minnesota Blakeboroughs and their ancestors back to 1830 and Topcliffe, England. And in New Zealand we have a family tree that goes back to the same place and further. The Minnesota Blakeboroughs and the New Zealand Blakeboroughs are all descended from Jonathan and Mary Blakebrough who married at Skipton, Yorkshire about 1740 and had eight children. Jonathan was born at Bolton in 1719.
An example of several restored trucks and tractors in
Blakeborough family collections

Jerry and Videl have been big international travelers and for many years owned a motor-home and traveled extensively in North America. I tell them about my travels and my motor-home.

Before retiring, Jerry worked in transport as a driver and manager, just like me, just like Jerry’s father and grandfather, and many other Blakeboroughs elsewhere. There is also a history of family dairying both in Minnesota and in New Zealand.

It’s time to meet the rest of the family. We pile into Jerry’s auto and start a grand tour of Blakeborough houses. At 74, Jerry still drives like a professional. It’s in the blood.

We visit brothers, children, cousins, including some from Wisconsin. Something else strikes me; even though we are separated by three centuries, seven generations, and different cultures and nationalities, some of us have the same appearance and mannerisms. It’s uncanny.

The resting place of the first two Blakeboroughs to reach
Minnesota in the mid-1800's

On Saturday night a crowd of relatives arrive for dinner, and on Sunday there’s another crowd at Debra and Kent’s house for lunch. We pour over photos and Don’s Blakeborough Family Tree. We’re in family history heaven and I regret that I must leave again on Monday morning.

I’m eight days and ten states away from my flight from LAX to New Zealand.




Wednesday, 28 August 2013

PETER’S USA – PART 8

Founded to commemorate legends, EAA is now itself a legend
'It will fly better after we've finished our beer.' The way it once was.
It’s another mid-summer sunny day in Wisconsin as I head back to Oshkosh for another flyer’s fix at the world’s greatest aviation celebration.


A C-47 or Douglas DC-3 departing Oshkosh
I’m directed to the Blue Lot again for parking just one row away from yesterday’s spot. I walk with the crowd to the admission gate and get today’s wrist band. Inside, I walk in a new direction aware that I’ve seen lees than 25% of the exhibits and aircraft parks.

The more I see the more I realize that there is so much more that I can never see in the two days that I’ve allowed myself here. This is the annual gathering, now 60 years on, that was organized to commemorate pioneers and legends, and has now become a legend in its own right. The only thing missing with Oshkosh is an exclamation mark after the name.

Flight simulators had a big presence at Oshkosh.
This one is a Cessna 172 simulator over Oshkosh

The new Hondajet is a draw card with its sleek lines. I promise the salesman I’ll place an order as soon as I get back to New Zealand. It will impress my fan club.back in New 

Zealand.

I walk to the homebuilder’s area (not to be confused with people who build houses), these enthusiasts build airplanes at home. Little airplanes everywhere; high-wings, low-wings, bi-planes, each one special in its own unique way. The camera clicks, I walk on. I’m in Airplane Heaven.

Everyone at AirVenture, officials, volunteers, participating pilots and visitors are friendly as they share a common bond. Everywhere I look, the airplanes are beautifully restored and presented. It’s no wonder that the event has grown from a dozen or so aircraft 60 years ago to over 10,000 now.

'Cleared to land after the blue marker.'

I come to the Warbirds parking. It’s huge; Mustangs, Lightnings, AT-6s, Mitchells, long lines of them. The private jet warbirds are parked on the hard on the north side of the field. I admire the old and new as flying machines, not killing machines.  The older ones in their day were a trick to fly; unstable, unreliable and uncrashworthy compared with today’s generation of military and civil aircraft.


A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is taxiing for take-off. It moves carefully along the concrete taxiway in a moderate crosswind. The four big Wright Cyclone radial engines are barely above idle, but in true radial style they’ll be consuming large amounts of oil. Another odd thing about radials is that they only have odd numbers of cylinders; three, five, seven, nine cylinders. Never four, six, eight or ten. That doesn’t work with a radial.


I watch and think of the lads who flew the old warbirds into hostile skies. Many were teenagers and if they lived long enough they became old men at twenty-five. They were rushed through flight school with the bare minimum of training and many died before they met the enemy. War is ghastly. But these warbirds are beautiful machines.

My new Hondajet

The warbird parking and camping goes on forever. I walk until I’m ready to drop. But time is running out. I take the shuttle to the Pioneer Airport and the AirVenture Museum where I join a small group getting a guided tour with one of the 5,000 AirVenture volunteers.


Of the 10,000 airplanes in attendance 235 are show planes including 867 homebuilts, 858 vintage machines, 337 warbirds, 130 ultra-lights, 92 seaplanes, 27 aerobatic machines, and 24 miscellaneous show planes. What a line-up. Add to that over 800 exhibitors and visitors registered from 64 countries and that’s an air show like no other.
The EAA founder's P-51D Mustang

Now it’s time to leave AirVenture and what an experience it has been. I’d love to come back again. If I do that it will be as the group leader of a bunch of aviation enthusiasts from Downunder, perhaps in 2015.

I drive away with a full heart, a dream fulfilled, and a dream that some day I may return.






Tuesday, 27 August 2013

PETER’S USA - PART 7

AirVenture Oshkosh – The Spirit
of Aviation
A 1945 Boeing B-17  Flying Fortress at Oshkosh
I’m on the road early, wondering how my first day at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh, the world’s biggest air show, will pan out. EAA is the Experimental Aircraft Association and the name comes from the days when all home-built aircraft were officially designated as experimental.
Peter at Oshkosh

It’s 59 years since the granting of my student pilot license in New Zealand and today I’m going to Oshkosh, the ultimate dream of almost every pilot who ever opened a throttle for take-off.
Today the Toyota Yaris is low flying north-bound on US 151. I’m expecting traffic back-ups anytime soon, but it keeps flowing. In next to no time I’m leaving the 151 at Waupan and turning onto Wisconsin 26 which will take me to US 41 and right into Oshkosh.

I’ve got the written directions and Poberezny Road (Paul Poberezny the EAA founder) has been loaded into the GPS. As a backup I’ve also got a Google map on the passenger seat beside me. It would be a shame to have to go all the way back to New Zealand without seeing the air show, because I couldn’t find it. But I did find it and immediately decided that it would be pretty hard to miss.

EAA founder Paul Poberezny
The traffic doesn’t really slow down until the entrance, and then is crawls to the parking. I take a photo of the parking lane I’m in in case I get lost coming back. I start walking from the Blue Lot with my 2013 AirVenture Oshkosh official map. At the admission gate I exchange my ticket for a wrist band and start walking along Mulva Way passing the Fly Market, Aeromart and the Garmin hanger. Garmin, that’s the ‘been everywhere lady’ and she reminds me of my days as a taxi driver when drunks told me how to get them home without getting arrested.

I pass the exhibits and head for the aircraft. I’ve heard that Oshkosh every year has the world’s largest gathering of airworthy aircraft and I soon find out it’s no stretch. I see airplanes I’d forgotten existed and many I just knew nothing about. They’re all here Stinsons, Stearmans, Wacos, Champions, Ercoupes, home-builts, ultra-lights, heavy-weights. I get photos of almost forgotten types I flew in an earlier life when amateur pilots could not afford flying, and a camera and film too.
Commemorating the pioneers of airmail

I walk the strip beside Runway 18/36. It’s a warm sunny day with scattered fair weather cumulus high above, the breeze is from the northwest at 5-8 knots, and aircraft and choppers are buzzing around all over the place. Runway 36 has the most movements with long queues on the ground waiting to line up. All take-offs on 36 are followed by an immediate turn to the east to make room for the fast traffic landing on Runway 27. Close to the approach end of 36 the ultra-light traffic turns on close final for their northwest grass strip. They also turn soon after take-off to avoid flying over the exhibition grounds and clashing with the Pioneer Runway.
Henry Ford's contribution to aviation -
the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor

I marvel at how well the Oshkosh traffic patterns work. But then I listen to someone’s air traffic radio and discover that the two main runways in use, 36 and 27 can each handle three simultaneous movements because each runway is divided into sectors by colored markers painted on the concrete. Pilots are cleared to land beyond the blue, red or yellow marker.

I follow Wittman Road to the seaplane parking and camping area and catch the shuttle back to the vintage hanger and start exploring the main exhibits; EAA Innovations Pavilion, EAA Merchandise, Phillips 66 Plaza, the Education and Interactive Zone.

It pays to advertise
As the sun gets lower I walk back to the Blue Lot and put my Winneconne homestay address into the GPS. It’s about ten miles and I don’t want to blot my copybook by being late on the first night. The traffic could be slow getting away. It’s a breeze. Just like the air traffic, EAA has got it all sorted on the ground too.

The Stoinskis of Harbour South Drive, Winneconne live in a lovely home and are wonderful hosts. Nothing is too much trouble for them and anyone staying would have to recommend them. I certainly do.

Meanwhile, tomorrow will be another day at AirVenture. There’s still so much to see.



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Saturday, 24 August 2013

PETER’S USA – PART 6


The Mississippi, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin

It’s July 31 and I’m a day away from the world’s biggest air show at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture Oshkosh runs for a week and has already started, but my plan is to stay for just two days, then drive to Minneapolis to meet cousins many times removed.

A scenic back road in middle America
I continue on US 54 and Missouri 19 through crop farming land to a place called Center which is central to nothing that I could perceive, except more farmland. I drive into New London and out the other side before I’ve had a chance to compare it to London as in London.

Minutes later the highway takes me to Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood home of Mark Twain, or Samuel Langhome Clemens, to use the name on his American Express card. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were both set here. The nearby Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum attracts visitors from around the world.

US 54 in Missouri
I join Interstate 72 and the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge takes me across the mighty Mississippi River and into Illinois, my seventh state on this odyssey.

The great Mississippi is the world’s fourth largest river and played a key role in the exploration, settlement and commerce of early America. It drains more than 30 of the 50 states and throughout history the romance of the Mississippi has featured in countless books and films, both fact and fiction. The river shares pride of place with the Rockies as North America’s two most prominent 
geographical features.

The Mississippi River near Hannibal viewed from Illinois
I turn north onto the I-172 and see a sign for a Payson and remember my near miss with Payson, Arizona. I switch off the GPS lady before she has a chance to get fresh with this Payson. Pay son, I think, the shady lady with the ‘I’m going everywhere voice,’ is really just a tramp.

At the Quincy exit I feel the effects of too much coffee with breakfast. I need the liquid exchange. Down the Quincy main drag I go until I find a gas station where I do the exchange; ten gallons of theirs for two pints of mine, but then I have to pay them, and that’s something about commerce that I’ve never quite understood. Mine is precious too.

Just one small corner of the Iowa 80 truck stop
Coming out of the gas station it’s easier to turn right than left, so I go right, cross the Mississippi again into Missouri and continue north along US 61 into Iowa. An hour later I pull into Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop, in my little Toyota Yaris, take some photos and buy a cowboy hat. The Iowa 80 is at exit 284 on Interstate 80 near Davenport. The 220 acre site has parking for 800 semis, has 15 diesel pumps and a staff of 450. The main building has every kind of amenity that a traveler could wish for.

From Iowa 80 its east on the I-80 and across the Mississippi one more time with a rest stop and photos on the Illinois side. I turn onto the I-88 (the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway) and head for Rockford. Reagan was born near here at Tampico, Illinois.

Signs inside Iowa 80 indicating some of the services available
to truckers and other travelers
At Rock Falls I leave the I-88, before it becomes a toll road, and cross the Rock River to the scenic side where the Illinois 2 highway meanders through small towns and countryside. The town of Dixon has a lesser known Lincoln Memorial in President’s Park.

A few minutes along Illinois 2 at Grand Detour is the 1836 home of John Deere and the site where he forged his first plow and started a business that became a legend around the world.
I reach the suburbs of Rockford and they seem to go on forever in this city that was known as Midway in 1835 but became Rockford only because it had a good ford across the Rock River. As the town grew it became a center for manufacturing farm machinery and furniture. Rockford has 150,000 people and is famous for its elm trees.

At the Mississippi Rapids rest area

I cross into Wisconsin and join the I-90 for the run to Madison, a beautiful city surrounded by lakes, it is the state capital. Madison was named after James Madison, the fourth US President and the inner city streets were named after the 39 signatories to the US Constitution. I follow the I-90 to the east of the city and swing onto US 151. At San Prairie I locate the Holiday Inn and check-in for one night.

It’s been another long day, but now it’s only 80 miles to AirVenture Oshkosh.






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Friday, 23 August 2013

AIRVENTURE FOUNDER DIES


Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Protecting Your Freedom to Fly


EAA and AirVenture founder Paul Poberezny dies in Wisconsin
August 22, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
Paul Poberezny, the energetic, charismatic, and personable founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association, died Aug. 22 at the age of 91.
Paul Poberezny
“We were saddened today to learn of Paul Poberezny’s passing, and so incredibly grateful for all that he has left us,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “Paul Poberezny was a true original who embodied aviation’s best attributes of teamwork, craftsmanship, achievement, and service. To say he was a visionary is an understatement. He focused his many attributes on making the Experimental Aircraft Association what it is today, and that is clearly an outstanding legacy that benefits all of us.”
Poberezny was a military pilot for 30 years and served during World War II and Korea before retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1970.
He was born in Kansas in 1921 and taught himself to fly at age 16 in a single-seat Waco glider he helped restore. He founded EAA in the basement of his Milwaukee-area home in 1953 with his wife Audrey, and they built it into a vibrant organization that now boasts 170,000 members in more than 100 countries, and its annual gathering, EAA AirVenture, is one of aviation’s premiere events . . . .
Full story: AOPA News

Peter’s Piece

Having just attended my first EAA AirVenture Oshkosh after being encouraged to do so by Paul Poberezny more than 30 years ago, I’m stunned, like so many others, by the passing of this legendary aviator and personality.

I didn’t see him at the air show and heard that he was ill. But his restored WWII Mustang was there in all its glory.


The new leadership at the EAA has big shoes to fill and big wings to fly with.














Thursday, 22 August 2013

BLAKEBOROUGH FAMILY TREE

Blakeborough: A family tree with over 3,000 names

My brother, Donald Gilbert Blakeborough devoted a large part of his life to building a Blakeborough Family Tree and when he passed away last year he had 3,390 authenticated names on the family tree in England, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Other Blakeboroughs live in Australia but have not yet been confirmed in the tree.

The grave of Joseph and Pricilla Blakeborough
at Maple Grove Cemetery, Minnesota
Since Don passed away, I have been trying to tie up some of the loose ends with the tree as well as adding new generations as they come along.

I would like to hear from people who can help place the Australian Blakeboroughs in the family tree.

 I also want information about descendants of Joseph and Pricilla Blakeborough who married in Nova Scotia on June 26, 1864 and settled in Minnesota where they had five children.  One of the children was William Henry Blakeborough (26 Jun 1866 - 12 Apr 1944) who married Ester Mendenhall on February 1, 1888 but we have no record of their children.

The other descendent of Joseph and Pricilla, whose family line is incomplete, was Thomas Pounder Blakeborough (3 Nov 1867 - 22 Feb 1947) who married Elizabeth Morehouse.

It is likely that both William and Thomas had children and I would like to hear from their descendants. It is possible that both families may have moved away from Minnesota and lost contact with their relatives. I would also like to hear from Blakeboroughs believed to be living in Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Florida, South Carolina and the New England states.

More information is wanted about the Canadian Blakeboroughs.

Here is my own family line:

1  Unknown Blakbrough                 b. c1512 Gisburn, Lancashire, England
2  John Blakbrough                         b. c1540 d. Gisburn 10/12/1584
3  Roger Blakebrough                    b. c1580 m. Anna Ratclife d. Gisburn 1643
4  Christopher Blakbrough             b. 27/2/1608 m. Dorothy Blakebrough at Gisburn
5  Thomas Blagbrough                   b. 25/2/1649 Gisburn m. Mariae Parker
6  Christopher Blakebrough           b. c1685
7  Jonathan Blakebrough                b. 14/6/1719 Bolton m. Mary ?
8  Roger Blackebrough                   b. 14/2/1749 Skipton m. Elizabeth Topham d. 10/12/1796
9  William Blackbrough                   b. 9/10/1777 Pateley Bridge m. Jane ?
10 John Blakeborough                    b. 22/9/1805 Pateley B. m. Mary Hardcastle d. 19/8/1854
11 Peter Blakeborough                   b. 22/2/1836 Pateley Bridge m. Ellen Prest d. 29/5/1895
12 Peter Blakeborough                   b. 1879 Keighley UK m. Ada Bradley d. 1929 New Zealand
13 Francis Blakeborough                b. Burnley, UK 1903 m. Florence d.1982 New Zealand
14 Peter Blakeborough                   Living in Ngatea, New Zealand and married to Winifred.

If you can help please contact me.

Email: peterblakeborough@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peter.blakeborough.1
Phone: +64-7-211-9876 or Mobile +64-21-115-0543



PETER’S USA – PART 5

Cessna preparing for an exciting future

The streets are still wet as I emerge from my motel and drive west through Independence in the south east corner of Kansas. But the sky has cleared and the promise is for a nice day. The violent storm of yesterday is just a memory. This leafy town looks more like Missouri or Arkansas rather than belonging to the flat expanse of Kansas, but here state lines follow lines of latitude and longitude rather than topography.
Independence, Kansas is home to the legendary
Little House on the Prairie

I turn south onto US 75 and in a few minutes I arrive at Cessna’s newest assembly plant, park in the visitor car park, walk to the main building and check in with Security. This is one of the few aircraft assembly plants in America that allows guided tours and there to meet me is Donna Kiister, administrative assistant in the Cessna training center. Today I’m her only tourist. I feel honored and privileged.

We go up one level to the training center where new airplane owners can do type conversions and refreshers. Simulators are used as well as the owners own new airplane. 

Then we don protective glasses and ear plugs, and head for the factory floor. It’s a bright, clean, modern facility with 1,300 workers.

Tour guide Donna Kiister
The atmosphere is cheerful and friendly, the workers dedicated. It’s hard to believe that this is a company that has had its heart ripped out since the downturn of 2008. Across all plants, then CEO Jack Pelton, cut the workforce from 16,000 to just 8,000 before he suddenly ‘retired’ at the age of 52. Pelton’s ‘retirement’ was later interrupted with his appointment as CEO at AirVenture Oshkosh and the EAA.

The Independence plant does final assembly of most single-engine Cessnas including the 172 Skyhawk, 182 Skylane, 206 Stationair and the sleek and slippery TTx. Twins assembled here include the Citation Mustang and Citation M2 executive jets.


One Piece at a Time
(A parody of a Johnny Cash’s song about working at GM)

Well, I left school back in '99  
And went to Cessna workin' on the assembly line.
The first year they had me makin’ ailerons an’ flaps.
Every day I'd watch them beauties roll by, 
And sometimes I'd hang my head and cry.
'Cause I always wanted me one that was neat to fly.

One day I devised myself a plan,  
That would be the envy of 'most any man.
I'd sneak it outta there in a lunch box in my hand.
Now gettin' caught meant gettin' fired,
But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired.
I'd have me a craft worth at least five hundred grand.

I'd get it one piece at a time and it wouldn't cost me a dime.
You'd know it's me when I fly over your town.
I'm gonna fly around in style, gonna fly everybody wild.
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

So, the very next day when I punched in,
With my big lunch box and help from friends,
I left that day with a lunchbox full of wires.
I've never considered myself a thief,
But Cessna wouldn't miss just one little piece.
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The next day I got me a fuel pump
And then I got me a piston and a sump.
Then I got me a yoke and all the dials.
The little things I could get in my big lunch box,
Like rivets and bolts and oleo shocks.
But the big stuff we snuck out in the mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went alright,
Till we tried to put it all together one night.
And that's when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.
The main planes were for a 182 and the fuselage was a 172,
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.
So, we drilled it out so that it would fit,

And with a little bit of help from an adapter kit
We had that bird ready to fly like a kite.
Now, the ailerons that was another sight.
We had one on the left and none on the right.
But when we pulled over on the yoke,
It looked a bit funny but it was no joke.

The back end looked kind of weird too,
But we put it together and when we got through,
Well, that's when we noticed that we only had one elevator.
About that time my wife walked out,
And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts.
But she opened the door and said, "Honey, take me for a spin."

So, we flew across town just to test the rig,
And I flew her low right down the main drag.
Suddenly, when the engine lost all sound,
We could hear folks laughin' for blocks around.
But down there at the courthouse they didn't laugh,
'Cause to type the charges it took the whole staff.

How did I get it?
You might say I went right up to the factory and picked it up.
It's cheaper that way.
Ah, what model was it?
Well it was a 120, 140, 150, 170, 180, Cessna flying machine.
It was a 152, 172, 182, 210, 310, 340 Cessna flying machine.

I got it one piece at a time and it didn't cost me a dime.
You'd know it was me when I flew over your town.
I flew around in style, I sent everybody wild.
And I had the only one there was around.


(Not recommended as the best way to acquire a Cessna)

We walk from line to line, talking with workers here and there as we go. They are friendly and helpful with information. Then we come to Cessna’s secret weapon to the market – the Cessna JT-A Skylane. I see a dozen or so of them in various stages of completion as they move along their assembly line. This is the model that will re-invent flying. The JT-A has a 227 horse power French built diesel engine, but it doesn’t run on diesel. It uses jet fuel. The new Skylane will have fuel savings of 30-40% over its gasoline parent and it will have a range of over 1,000 miles. The JT-A is already flying and undergoing certification. Deliveries will start as soon as that is completed.
The new Cessna JT-A Skylane with a redesigned fuselage
to accommodate the French built diesel engine

We move on through the five buildings to the paint shop and finally the customer center where deliveries are made with all the fanfare that important customers expect and deserve.

For security reasons photography is restricted throughout the tour, but I feel privileged to be given this personalized insight into one of aviation’s most iconic companies. Cessna has come a long way since Clyde Vernon Cessna experimented with his ‘silverwing’ in 1911 and later teamed up with Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman in 1925. They were hard times and Beech and Stearman soon went off to do their own thing. Clyde gained certification for his Cessna ‘DC-6’ the same day that the stock market crashed in October 1929. Years later another company produced a larger and better known DC-6.
The founder of the Cessna company

Cessna is now a wholly owned division of Textron; an industrial investment company launched by Royal Little in 1923 and now number 225 on the Fortune 500 list with 33,000 employees in 25 countries.

I present Donna with an autographed copy of Highway America and I hit the highway again bound for Mexico. No, not that Mexico. I’m going to Mexico, Missouri as a staging point on my drive to AirVenture Oshkosh in Wisconsin.

The rain is still hanging around and evidence of yesterday’s deluge is everywhere as I rejoin US 400 East to Pittsburg. No, not that Pittsburg. This is Pittsburg, Kansas. I turn north on the scenic route, US 69, and follow it to Fort Scott and US 54 where I turn east and cross into Missouri. These are back country roads with great scenery, small villages set in rural surrounds. The roads are often dual carriageways and almost as fast as the Interstates. Flooding of low-lying farmlands can be seen everywhere and the rivers are running high.

Deep into the Missouri boondocks the scenery gets even better around the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks and the Missouri River near Jefferson City. Then I come to a section of the Mark Twain National Forest, cross the I-70 which I’ve driven many times, and drive the last miles to Mexico.

The town of Mexico got its name because it was on the way to the real Mexico. Parts of the route I had just driven through Missouri were once part of the trail that settlers followed on their way to the then Republic of Texas and they were told to head for Mexico. There was even a dilapidated sign near the settlement indicating the way to Mexico. The new town became officially New Mexico in 1836 but the old sign remained in place. Later when the state of New Mexico came into being the city fathers in New Mexico, Missouri gave up and from then it has always been called just Mexico.

The Missouri Mexico has a famous town square with many multi-story brick buildings dating back to the first settlers. I find another Days Inn on South Clark Street and check in for the night at $72.53 including tax, Wi-Fi, and a continental breakfast. Good value for money.

Tomorrow I'll be within striking distance of Oshkosh.



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