Heading to Stearman Field
Whew! What a weekend! We cleaned up the Red Baron Stearman and headed to Benton, Kansas (NE of Wichita) with Matthew & Amy Sawhill in their RV-4 for the annual Stearman Field
fly-in on Saturday.
Stearman Field is a (really nice) airpark that was called Benton airpark until they decided to change the name in commemoration of the Stearman aircraft built in Wichita. There are now 10 Stearmans based at the airpark, along with any other plane imaginable.
We touched down Friday morning, landing just a few minutes after Dan & Diane Sokolowski in their Navy Stearman "Blondie".
Amy checking out the swings at the Stearman Field bar.
There weren't many folks around, we lounged around the Stearman Field bar for a bit before Alex gave us a tour of the airpark and his insanely cool hangar home (and he's doing much of the work himself, making it even cooler).
From there, we fit in a bit more flying to check out the Kansas countryside, then it time to tuck in the airplanes for the night (hangar courtesy of Alex!), and off to the hotel.
Tucked in at Stearman Field for the night.
the company at breakfast.
Saturday morning brought high winds and a heat wave. After breakfast (and feeding of the hotel ducks, which we named each one "Grumman"), we headed back to the airpark for the fly-in.
The fly-in is open to the public, although it looks like most of the attendees are local. With winds gusting in the 30s, there wasn't much flying, but several planes still came in, including a rare Grumman Wildcat.
With our wings clipped, we visited with the locals, and met several nice folks. We spent most of the day at the Stearman Field bar because of the horrid heat and discovered their trademark drink, the Stearman Tailspin, does its job well.
A Grumman Wildcat braved the winds to attend the fly-in.
A classic golf cart. Not sure what it is!
As daylight faded, the fly-in wrapped up, and the golf carts, old Jeeps, and class cars emerged. Near the bar, they had a band called Lucky People
play throughout the night, and I'm in complete awe of the vocal range the lead singer has.
We made it until the band wrapped up, then it was back to the hotel as a very sweaty, smelly crew.
Unfortunately, once the sun set, our pictures were too dark to share. Then again, that's probably a good thing.
Parking across the street from Beaumont Hotel.
Somehow, we managed to get up at sunrise for the flight home Sunday morning. With talks of winds in Nebraska, the Sokolowskis headed home, and we and the Sawhills headed to the Beaumont Hotel
for breakfast. They have a 2600' grass strip, and we plan to head back for a longer visit next time. After you land, you taxi down the road to hotel, going past a stop sign, and watching out for traffic because this isn't a taxi way... it's a road
. We taxied past quite a few bikes, as Beaumont is also known as a good bike rally place. We parked near the old wooden water tower, which is still in use. As we strolled to the hotel, we saw a twin Beech sitting in their yard.
After a delightful breakfast, we hopped in the planes for the trip back home.
Taxiing past the hotel on the street to the airstrip.
Here's the Beaumont Hotel from the air. You can see all the bikers who made it in for breakfast, too. The airstrip is down the street to the east/right.
Flying in formation with the RV on the trip home.
Fortunately, we had tailwinds and smooth flying back home, although we had 2 more fuel stops than planned. Eureka (13K) had the 3 cutest, furry airport greeters, but unfortunately we were a bit too early for the two-legged kind, and so we continued onto Coffey County (UKL) for our first fuel stop.
We made it to Creston, IA (CSQ) for our next fuel stop, but fuel was a no-go, so then we headed to Greenfield (GFZ) for our final fuel stop, and chatted with a couple of the museum visitors, including a fellow Stearman pilot. From there, we touched down at Ames airport (AMW) around 3pm, craving air conditioning. And that wrapped up a fun-filled weekend in Kansas!
To wrap things up, here's a rough video (I have no editing software) of the RV doing a fly-by and breakaway from the Red Baron on the trip back home. Enjoy!