Why I Love Airfields 20 : 2021-04

I know I've said it before, but one of the greatest things of general aviation is the variety of FBOs you'll encounter.  Or the people you may or may not meet.

This is Trinidad (KTAD).  Great building zero people, but not really accessible.  My copilot made me a breakfast burrito and we ate them on one of their picnic benches. Great moment. The right-center window reads "AIRPORT".  Classic.

This white-brick building is Raton's (KRTN) FBO. On the topic of "what do I call this place", I use the 'public knowledge' answer.  This is Raton but technically, Raton Municipal Airport/Crews Field. I will never say "Crews Field".  Never.  It's "Raton traffic"... Let's use Leadville as another example.  It's the highest field in North America, and known as Leadville.  If anyone thinks I'll say "Lake County", they will be surprised.  Regardless, this was an excellent FBO with a cool building and great views. Beyond all of that, they will make you a hamburger.  And it is NOT a 'take from the warmer burger', it is a burger made by someone who cares.  It was fantastic!

Cameras never really capture the moment.  This was a shot across from Coppertop's tail trying to show the landscape.  In person, it was very cool. Taken at Trinidad.

This was another shot trying to show the unique landscape at Trinidad.  The mountains, hills, and mesas are much better in person. Point being, go there yourself, take in the landscape, and get a free burger!

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Why I Love Aviation 7 : 2021-03

Living in Colorado gives me the opportunity to give people instruction in mountain flying. I'm no legend in the mountains but I share what I know. Whether they get much out of it or not, I love doing it. I think the favorite thing for most people is landing at Leadville (aka Lake County, KLXV). They can get a certificate for landing at the highest airport in North America (9934 feet). They also get to make ridge crossings, course reversals, and a short-field takeoff and landing at Glenwood Springs (KGWS).

Here is Sweet Pea (740) sitting atop North America - the views are epic.

Southbound from Eagle (KEGE) to Weston Pass - pure mountains.

One of the best sections of the flight - the canyon between Glenwood Springs
and Eagle. You really have no where to go, but it's beautiful.

Painting of N19127 hanging in KIBM

Completely unrelated, but the within a day of a mountain flight, I landed at Kimball Municipal (KIBM) with Coppertop. First of all, to span that type of geography in that amount of time is only possible through airpower. Second, and more powerful to me, is my fascination in GA and its FBOs. You never know what you'll encounter and the people are almost 100% fantastic. Kimball is about 3 miles south of a 2600-person town in the middle of nowhere. When we landed there were exactly zero people at the airport. However, we could still get fuel, use a courtesy car (if desired), enter the FBO, use the restroom and even get water in the fridge! There really is nothing like the GA community. I made the owner of Coppertop follow me to the FBO just to showcase this incredible world. And he did concur that it was wowsers. I thank God to be a part of this world and I thank orgs like AOPA who fight for these freedoms.

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Are you a low-wing or high-wing fan? I would like to say I'm indifferent, but I have to go with high-wing. First, you can always give yourself shade. Second, there's less to hit when you land (forced landing). Third, you have a lot more freedom in strong crosswinds. Other than that, I would be indifferent.

I raise the topic because of this picture in my Citabria. When I saw all those windows, I realized it actually has great visibility. I'm pretty sure I knew that, but seeing it makes one a believer. She even has the window above.

But above all that, it's hard not to smile when you're flying. You can fake a picture and you can fake a smile but it's pretty obvious when you're not doing either.

- MM -


Why I Love Aviation 6 : 2021-02

Aside from the coolness of airplanes, one thing easy to love about aviation is the community. And the ways paths cross is always amazing to me. Someone finds out you can help them out (thanks to another friend) and then you have a new flying buddy. Yes, I know that's how life works, but it's always cool to have the common love of flying.  And there's the added benefit of possibly getting to fly something you've never flown before.

Just a few days ago, I meet someone who needed instrument training and they wanted to use their own airplane. That's always a great setup. This certain individual just so happened to have a very well-equipped straight-tail Beach Bonanza (A36). So, not only did I meet a new friend, I was able to go ripping around Colorado in a great airplane.

Here she is.  I call her "Copper Top"

Copper Top has a Lycoming 550 making 300HP. Inside is quite special, too. Two G3Xs, a 650, two 175s, a G5 and an excellent autopilot. It's awesome to fly with great equipment - and awesome to meet other aviators!

- MM -


It happened - I now have an airplane

I finally purchased an aircraft - a 1979 Bellanca Citabria.  One trusted agent looked at it, one trusted agent flew it back, and I finally flew it on 31 January 20.  She flew exactly like I thought she would.  The mission of this airplane is to get people upset training, spin training, and tailwheel training.  I call her Belle (she was from Memphis).  Here she is:

We landed at my friend's place (he has his own field).  Beautiful.

My Citabria on the left, Ryan's Super D on the right.

Me stepping on my mains with Ryan..  I could have asked for no one else as my wingman.  He even had a suggestion for my first flight which worked out perfectly.  Ryan is an incredible aviator!

- MM -


CC2020 | Navigation | 2020-12

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 inches (51 x 61 cm)

The card reads...

"This year, I was blessed to fly the line with United for three months.  It was short, but full of awesome people and great experiences.  The rest of the year saw a lot of general aviation.

It reminded me that people enter your life at just the right time - which continues to amaze me.  They can nudge you, inspire you, and help you move along your journey.

As this open-air flying machine approaches the foothills on a beautiful winter day, the sight of his hangar assures him he's on the right path.  God helps me do this each and every day."


After the sky, clouds and hills were painted, I had the big unanswered question of what to add.  Originally, I thought a close-up of a crow flying towards the hangar but also wanted to add an airplane. This is the view of the crow I was going to add...

It was going to be solid black (minus some highlights).

As for the airplane, I had an idea that the original painting was also going to be a present for a retirement. The recipient, however, has flown dozens of airplanes. I knew he'd flown a Fairchild PT-19 and he had a painting of one in his hangar - it was actually a movie poster. He currently has a Super Decathlon, but I couldn't get the look I wanted and was happy with the PT-19.  The photo above was used for reference.

This was the only paint sketch I made.  You can see I sketched the crow and the airplane. The airplane was the focus as I had abandoned the idea of the crow.  I was happy enough with the airplane to proceed. One thing I don't like about myself is the liberty and freedom I take with sketches only to be overly conservative with the final. I shouldn't like the sketches more than the final piece - which happens too often.

Update 202101:  One of the best comments I get is that the card exceeds other cards.  This was written on the back of a note from a card recipient...

Of note, that's from someone who's received almost every card.

- MM -


Why I Love Aviation 5 : 2020-12

One thing about aviation that always holds a surprise is what you'll fly next. And the cool thing is, the more you fly, the more you get to fly. Sometimes by chance, sometimes by the people God puts in your path.

I was able to fly this beautiful (and immaculate) Citabria Adventure. The Adventure model threw a 160 HP in the nose. The owner has done incredible work on the dash. When we say 'dash' we mean all the instrumentation and/or accoutrements one can add. If you want to get a new one, they're $195K. This owner got his for $70!

I was also lucky enough to give transition training to a first-time buyer of a Mooney. This is a M20E and it's a great machine. There are two M20Es, the Chaparral and the Super 21.  I think this one is a Super 21. It has a Johnson bar (means of physically raising/lowering landing gear) and manual flaps which you create hydraulic power by hand.  Pretty cool. And the best part is meeting the other owners / pilots. It is an amazing community.

- mm -


Ferry Flight: 1G1 to 1H8 to KSGF

Ferried the same Commander 112 that I ferried less than a week earlier - apparently a hot market for selling airplanes.  The flight was from near Cleveland to Springfield, MO (one of the possible choices for the Simpsons' town).  When I arrived via Uber, I really thought it might be a no-go, but in the end it worked out very swimmingly.

I totally missed an epic photo op when this mission started.  It was snowing like crazy with huge snow flakes...and I didn't take a picture.  The aircraft above is not the aircraft flown, but the snow was pretty close so I use it as a reference.  Sometimes I'm amazed at the pictures I DON'T take when it could be so easy (and is).  Amazingly, the skies broke and I had a window of opportunity.  After sweeping all the snow off the wings, I pressed.  I knew the weather to the west (direction of destination) was better so I launched.

Here's the Commander 112 at Casey Municipal (1H8).  This is why FBO's are cool...you never know what to expect.  There was a gas pump but clearly no ability to use a credit card.  As I was wondering how this would work, a woman walked up to the plane and asked "top it off?".  Essentially, it was like a gas station from the Sixties - full service with a smile!  Awesome.  The pic above shows the Commander with an Air Tractor in the background.  And Air Tractor that is worse for wear.

Another shot of Casey Municipal.

The final destination was KSGF (significant girl friend) or Springfield-Branson National Airport (I use all the memory aids I can).  I didn't take any pictures because the new buyer wants to me you and talk about the airplane and photos can get in the way.  Here are some stock photos...

The airfield from the air.

The General Aviation Complex

Very nice FBO - actually labeled "General Aviation Complex" which is one of the cooler things I've seen.   GA brings lots of business if you're ready for it and KSGF was clearly ready for it.  A super nice thing about this ferry flight was I could connect back to Denver from the destination. We took a seven minute ride around the airport and I was in-place.  Super stress-reliever.  Overall, it was a great ferry operation.  Well-compensated and easy connections.

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Why I Love Airfields 19 : 2020-11

Why do I love airfields?  Actually countless reasons, but I have a few reasons for not loving them.  Leadville (or Lake County Airport) is a classic example.  Love it and don't.  First, what's up with "Lake County"?  Everyone knows it as Leadville.  Second, super nice people, highest North American airport, gives you a free certificate, but NOT on the weekends (not loving them).

Here's an unrelated picture (aside from the day) of a beautiful sky and the tail of Queen Vic.

This is the certificate Leadville will give you just for showing up - awesome!
But not on the weekends...not awesome. 

And the most epic pic ever.  Two birds from Springs Aviation which will likely never been seen again at Leadville.  Orange Blaze and Queen Vic.  It was a totally random rendezvous and lent itself to a fantastic pic.  It's a photo op that will likely never happen again.

- mm -