Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 597 - August 2019
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Scratching The Itch
By Ben Keirn, Contributing Editor & Photographer

For those of you who are plane nuts like me, the opportunity to go to an airshow, fly-in, or aviation museum ranks somewhere at the top of the list of favorite pastimes. Of course, if you also happen to be a pilot, flying yourself ranks quite a bit higher. And somewhere between those two, you'd probably rank going for a ride in an aircraft of one sort or another. But what do you do when the flight has cancelled, the weather is sour, or you just haven't the ability to get airborne? What do you do when you can't find the time or money to visit that special aviation related event or site?

Most of my life has been spent at, on my way to, on my way home from, or thinking about my next trip to, an airport. I suppose some folks might call this a little excessive, but I call it a wonderful life. For those who are likeminded, the airport is a haven. Airports offer a location where you can relax after a stressful day, surround yourself with all things aviation, and strike up a conversation with the local flying aficionados. A small-town airport, doubly so, offers you a place where you can curb your thirst for aviation related conversation. And too, you can typically quench your other thirst with a free, slightly stronger than necessary coffee. In other words, the local airport is where you can go to scratch the itch for aviation related action; no crowds, no lines, no tickets, and unless you choose to go flying, no cost involved.

A view of the National Flight Centre, the Weston Airport (EIWT) FBO and tower, and the flags standing straight out in the winds gusting to 30 knots.

Not too long ago I published an article about flying in Ireland. On a recent ministry trip, I found myself in the same part of the world once again. Having an extra day after the other missionaries headed home, I thought perhaps a flight instructor and I could depart Weston, EIWT, and go down to the planned fly-in at the Waterford Flying Club, at EIWF. Sadly, that was not to be. The good Lord saved me quite a bit of money by stirring up some heavy winds and rain. I received a message from the flight instructor telling me the weather had caused both my flight in the Super Cub and the Waterford Airport fly-in to be cancelled for the day.

Just a speck in the sky over the tower, a whirlybird pilot wasn't daunted by the winds gusting over 30 knots, or the rain that was on the horizon...every horizon.

After some deliberation of what to do with my newly found free time, I couldn't resist the urge to go to the airport anyway. I suppose it goes without saying that I'm most happy and comfortable when surrounded by many winged things and long narrow bits of asphalt. So off I went to Weston airport to see what, if anything, was happening. The bus ride was a joy, touring the Irish countryside. And on the walk from the bus stop I heard the familiar sound of a turbine whining and a helicopter beginning to beat the air into submission.

Darby's restaurant, always open, within reason, of course.
An unusual resident for the day. A De Havilland DH.104 Dove 8.

As I walked up to the FBO to have a bite to eat at Darby's, the on-field restaurant, I was entertained at the Irish way of displaying their hours. I was also very intrigued by the rather unique aircraft parked on the tarmac. It's not too often you get to bump into a movie star…well, maybe a bit actor. After looking up the tail number on the internet, I found that this particular Dove was in a hangar scene in the 2016 movie "The Infiltrator." I doubt I'll watch the movie, though, since the aircraft are, in actuality, just set pieces in the film.

A more typical bird, but with an unusual tail number. With the rather comical EMU on its tail, this little Cessna doesn't seem to want to fly, not that many planes did on this blustery day.
This Duchess is one of two twin-engine aircraft owned and flown by the National Flight Centre for their multi-engine trainees, some preparing to fly for the likes of Ryan Air and Aer Lingus.

After a fisherman's stew and hot tea at Darby's, it was back into the chill, breeze, and smattering of rain that is the Irish summer. We had a good week of sun and upper 60's while wandering about Counties Dublin, Wicklow, and Meath visiting with pastors on our mission trip. But when Saturday hit, we got true Irish summer weather, with low to mid-60's, twenty varieties of precipitation, and a wind that kept us holding onto our hats. On the return to the bus stop I had a gander at the various aircraft parked around the airport. Some were familiar, with a good showing of Cessna and Piper training aircraft, a Beechcraft Duchess, and a Mooney to boot.

Some local aircraft lined up and tied down, awaiting better flying weather.

Some aircraft on the field were unusual to me. Aside from the De Havilland, there was also a Socata Rallye, registered EI-DMA. The airplane looked interesting, with the bubble canopy and the low wing undoubtedly offering great visibility of the pattern while doing your groundwork. If you're interested at all, there happens to be a Morane Saulnier Socata Rallye for sale on at the moment. There is also, surprisingly enough, a dismantled De Havilland DH.104 for sale in Argentina!

The Lucan, Ireland folks know pilots. Traffic light control boxes had interesting paint jobs all over the region, but this one near Weston Airport gave a nod to the aviation community at the nearby airport.

As I finished my stroll and took to the bus to return to the hotel, I was struck at the joy I felt even without flying. A chat with the waitresses about flying, a flyby from a daring helicopter pilot, a brush with an aviation movie star, and a bit of time perusing a sampling of Irish general aviation. Not too bad for a Saturday afternoon. Of course, all of this can be your experience as well. You merely must have an itch to see something aviation related and the wits to realize that even the smallest of airports can house things of great interest. And as Dr. Seuss so eloquently put it:


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights."

A little closer to home, a Cessna 172, Citation, and Gulfstream parked at the local FBO in Warsaw, Indiana (KASW). True high fliers in my own back yard.

By Ben Keirn, Contributing Editor & Photographer
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