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Around the Field
Two three-time veterans enjoy the vintage life
Story and photos by Jack Hodgson
 
Ron Christy is at AirVenture 2010 in his 1969 Cherokee 140.
Murray Collette with his 1959 Piper Comanche from Nashua, New Hampshire.

The run of bright sunny mornings at AirVenture 2010 ended on Saturday when the day dawned overcast and still wet from some overnight rain showers.

But nevertheless, way down south, abeam the Runway 36 numbers, vintage aircraft campers are still out enjoying the morning, watching the planes come and go, and soaking up the vibe in these closing days of this year’s fly-in.

Ron Christy is at AirVenture 2010 in his 1969 Cherokee 140. He’s sitting beside the wing on this gray morning, while his wife, Amy, is in their tent preparing for the day.

Ron and Amy are from Stevensville, Michigan. They are among the hardy souls who make the flight here by crossing Lake Michigan.

It’s Ron’s third time to the fly-in. He enjoys attending the forums and visiting with friends while he’s here.

One of his focuses in the forums is the Care and Feeding of Luscombes. His other plane is a 1946 model. But it currently has two of its cylinders off.

He’s collecting info at the fly-in this year to help diagnose and repair the classic plane.

In the winter he puts skis on the Luscombe. “We do a lot of ski flying with the Luscombe, and traveling with the Cherokee.”

His home airport is South Haven, Michigan (LWA). He describes it as a small field, but says it has around 50 planes based there.

In two weeks South Haven will be the location of the Blueberry Festival Fly-in, where they’re expecting 50-100 planes for a breakfast of blueberry pancakes.

Murray Collette is sitting in front of his blue and white Comanche. He’s reading the paper and watching the action around the field.

Murray’s home airport is Nashua, New Hampshire, and it has been for 15 years. Nashua is a very busy GA airport on the southern border of New Hampshire. ASH, Murray says, “is the third or fourth busiest airport in New England. It has close to 400 based airplanes.”

He’s also here at Oshkosh for his third visit to the fly-in.

His 11-year-old son Kevin is with him this year, and they’ve been taking advantage of the KidVenture activities over at Pioneer Airport.

But Kevin apparently feels that he’s ready to move on.

He burned through this year’s KidVenture programs in a few days, and then announced that he’s ready to move on to the adult training sessions.

“We did metal working yesterday,” says Murray, “and we’re gonna do composite today.”

Murray is one of three owners who share the Comanche. It’s a 1959 model with 250 hp.

Not surprisingly he’s very fond of its qualities.

“It gets up and goes, I plan 155 knots. It will hold four adults plus 200 pounds of baggage, plus 4-6 hours of fuel. It’s a real four-person, four-adult airplane, that gets up and goes.”

He gets a lot of good use out of the plane throughout the year. One mission is to carry his older son to college.

“It’s turned into my college-age son’s way to get back and forth to school. We live in southern New Hampshire, and he’s going to Clarkson University in very upstate New York, just south of Ottawa.

“Driving up there is six and a half hours, around Lake Champlain and through the mountains.

“The Comanche gets there in an hour and a half. And there a beautiful GA airport 3 miles from campus.”

Well that’s it for one of the most unusual AirVentures ever. Our congratulations and thanks go out to all the EAA volunteers who persevered through the unprecedented wet conditions early in the week. We’ve always known that this event would be impossible without your hard work and commitment, and that was truer than ever this year.

And kudos to all the EAA members who attended this year. Your patience and good nature, in spite of the difficulties, are a classic example of the EAA spirit. It will take a lot more than this to keep us down.

See you all again next year.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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