I realize that I am posting chronological as things happened this past week-end. That means that readers of the blog are seeing thing in reverse order. To get the best flow of what happened, scroll down about six entries to : "A successful parade; a minor setback" to see where this epic story begins. The first post of this series was posted May 23rd.
Just in case you might think there is a load of Bull in here somewhere, here is photographic proof!
This bull was part of the car show, too. Very well done, I must add.
Charlie turns off Church St. onto First Avenue, the main part of Downtown Sandpoint.
Needless to say, people were amazed and amused to see a vintage helicopter in an old car parade. So far as anyone heard, there was no grumbling like: "What the heck is a helicopter doing in a car parade." I can honestly say, we were a hit.
Looking back at Charlie as we approach Cedar Street. The trouble is about to begin!
About a quarter mile into the parade, still on Division Street, I am riding behind Charlie with Rob in his 1955 jeep when the engine quits! No problem, I think, I will simply run up and jump into Mike's jeep. After I help push Rob's jeep out of the road, I jump out and begin to run forward. I run and run, and realize that I am just keeping up with the flow, and not gaining on Charlie. When I slow down to take a breather, Charlie gets further away from me. When Charlie gets to the right turn ahead and disappears from sight, I realize I am being left behind! All this work and preparation for 13 months and I am going to miss the parade! What to do? I did not feel I could run much more; I am not 25 anymore and I was tired already.
I did what any good former military person would do: I commandeered a ride. An older fellow was driving by in the parade in a beautiful old 60's red Ford Mustang. Alone. I yelled and asked if he could give me a ride. He said yes. Now at least I was keeping up with Charlie, but she was still a few hundred yards ahead of me. I realized I could not gain on her this way, but at least I was keeping the same separation. And I had a chance to rest a bit. About a half mile further on, there was a double turn, and some traffic that stopped the parade for few seconds. As we turned the corner, I saw that was now only about 100 yards from Charlie, and she was at a dead stop. I thanked Mr. Cooper, who was celebrating his 87th birthday the next day, hopped out and sprinted the 100 yards, catching Mike in his jeep just as he began to move again. Made it! I would not miss the parade after all!
Captain Benjamin Aerni (Grandson, 11 years old) commanding "Charlie" as we pull her out of the High School parking lot to begin the parade. His co-pilot is Marine Corps League member Dick Williams, in excess of 70 years old. Without a doubt the largest spread ever of ages between a pilot and co-pilot. But, despite the age difference, Dick did a superb job as co-pilot, the job of a co-pilot being "Say nothing; touch nothing."
Benjamin is wearing a 50's vintage U.S. Navy flight helmet.
Here is Charlie just prior to departure. Army/airborne side. At first it looked like we were going to be the very last item in the parade. When approached, the traffic co-ordinator said he thought we would be too slow and would hold up other cars. When told that Charlie could keep up with the rest of the machines, he let us mingle in right away into the middle of the parade.
John Kazar drives his 1953 vintage M38-A-1 jeep, towing Charlie.
Thank you Mike.
His buddy, Rob Goodyear was following right behind the helicopter in a 1955 jeep, same model. We had ourselves a caravan. (For a short while.)
I rode beside Rob in the trailing jeep because I wanted to make sure that Charlie's tail did not endanger anyone as we made the wide turn onto Division street. Then I went back and rode with Rob in his jeep to watch from behind in case there were any problems. It turns out riding behind became the problem!
Last Friday evening, after 13 moinths of hard work and preparation, we got old H-34 Charlie into our local old car parade. Here she is in the parking lot of Sandpoint High School, awaiting her departure into the parade. Here is a url to learn more about our "Lost in 50's" old car show held here in Sandpoint for the last 26 years. http://sandpoint.org/lostin50s/
A BIG kudos to Carolyn Gleason who has been the mover and shaker putting this together every year. If you are in the area, and are hungry we highly recco 2nd Ave Pizza for the best pizza in town.
Here is the old beastie in the Sandpoint A-1 Helicopter Company's hangar just prior to departure. Note we have created a brand new, much stronger tow bar after our last slight mis-hap with the weaker tow-bar. . Many thanks to Route 66 Auto Body which donated the welding labor to create this new tow bar from our steel. BTW, for anybody in the area, Route 66 is a certified USAA repair Station.
Here is Charlie making the first turn after departing SZT, Sandpoint airport. People always give us a wide berth, and many people stop and take pictures with their cell phones when we go by. It is not every day you encounter an H-34 on city streets.We are having fun now!
The Lost in 50's parade was last week-end. We got old Charlie all spiffed up and got her into the parade and on display in the Old Car show on Saturday. It was a great success, but not without a bit of a challenge.
More very soon