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When my new friend Trevor Marshall emailed me early this year that he and wife Gillian would be returning to central Illinois in late spring to visit and reside with their friend Wendell in Auburn, he also promised me a flight in a rented Cessna 172. He’s a rated private pilot in England, and part of his itinerary for this year’s visit included getting his biennial flight review (BFR) and going flying with friends.
My most recent airplane ride was last summer when I was passenger in the EAA’s restored B-17 “Aluminum Overcast.”
Last week we flew from McClelland Aviation, the FBO on the airport’s southwest quadrant. There was no place in particular I wanted to go within “joy ride” distance from Springfield. If I had been paid recently I would have offered some extra dollars to visit Quincy, Illinois where a couple of former Soviet jet fighters are based. But that destination wasn’t feasable, not only due to budget factors, but time as well. The Marshall’s host Wendell, who had enjoyed a flight earlier in the morning with Trev & Gill, planned to run some errands locally while we flew. They would reconnect at McClelland Aviation, the FBO on the southwest part of the airport, soon after we returned.
I arrived at McClelland a little early to photograph the place. Everything is neat as a pin, with a terrific wood deck overlooking the tarmac where I am sure one can sit with friends on lawn chairs and watch the planes come and go. The view of the control tower, VOR station and much of the rest of the airport to the northeast is terrific! f I was delighted to find a classic Studebaker station wagon parked near the deck, owned by an AeroKnow Museum friend Phil Douglas. Also appealing was the distant Piper Cherokee that has been a “fixture” at Charlie Ramp and McClelland’s tarmac for at least five years. The FBO’s office manager told me the owner hasn’t flown it for a long, long time. He was going to restore it back to flight status, but when he learned how much a replacement battery would cost, he just walked away.
If the weather was decent — there is prime VFR weather, but there is also sub-prime VFR weather — I hoped we could spend some time sightseeing over Springfield. I’ve not taken pictures over downtown in some years, and the city has changed. Trevor said he’d be happy to do just that.
Then the C-40 came to town. The military 737 transport is based at Scott AFB in southern Illinois. He was practicing touch & go landings and probably instrument approaches, and would likely spend an hour or two in the airport traffic pattern, yielding the runway to other air traffic as the occasions arose. When I saw him approaching Runway 4 as I looked over the Piper, I profoundly regretted not bringing my telephoto lens. Since we were going to be a local flight at low altitude and sightseeing, I could not imagine needing it. WRONG. Pictured here is the best I could do with my 70 mm lens.
The C-40 continued to make circuits as we taxied away from the tarmac, and it became evident from the tower-to-Boeing communication coming through my headset, that we might soon get a closer look at the big bird since we’d be departing from the same runway. Timing would be crucial for maximum photography. Timing could not have been better if I had choreographed the sequence myself!
Trevor believed that with the visibility compromised by the major haze in the area, plus the C-40 shooting landings, it would be unwise to spend time over the metro downtown area. I agreed totally. The sky was sub-nominal for the kind of pictures I hoped to take, Even so, as we left the traffic pattern over the airport and headed southeast and turned onto a southerly heading “right down Main Street” — actually 5th or 6th Streets to be precise — I took a few of the Illinois State Capitol Building . . .
Limited time this Wednesday morning prevents me from finishing this post as I intended, so look for part two Thursday morning. In closing part 1, a photo of Gillian and Trever after our happy landing.
Thanks again to both for the enjoyable encounter!