Friday, October 30, 2009

Reklaw Fly-In 2009

Once again, October is upon us and this brings the delights of Autumn in Central Texas; cooler weather, bright blue skies and generally lovely outside.

Perfect timing, then, for what has been referred to as the Oshkosh of East Texas - Reklaw!

Twenty-five years ago, Dave and Marcia Mason carved themselves a runway out of their forested ranchland, forming a canyon of trees over 3000 feet long. They invited a few friends over to fly in and join them for a barbeque. The event has grown over the years, and for the last three years they have hosted well over five hundred aircraft.

The place is magic - only open to aviation enthusiasts, so there's none of the hassle of a public event.

Alan and I have driven up there in previous years, but this time he couldn't come. Rather than spend four hours in the car by myself, I figured - why not try and catch a ride up there in an aeroplane? Cue the University of Texas Flying Club. They allowed me to join their club fly-out. Woo-hoo!

So off we went, in Cessna 172 N413ES, here seen at our campsite later on:

It took about an hour and a half (with a tidy tailwind) to reach the Flying M Ranch. Listening to the Houston air traffic controllers was fun; it seemed that every flying thing in Texas was heading up there. I think the comment was, "They're arriving like mosquitos!"

The controller wasn't kidding. Here's a shot looking down the runway, taken during a fly-by early afternoon. Check out all the aircraft lining each side, and there's a whole field to the left filled with more:

It's a bit smoky due the fact we were following the An-2, which we overtook on the next circuit as he's so slow. Here he is emitting a pufflet of smoke, once he saw my camera pointing at him!:

Here's the club's Cessna 182 arriving, a bit later than we did on the first flight:

All kinds of aircraft visit Reklaw, including plenty of Piper Cubs of course. There's tiny things like this Legal Eagle:

Right up to big turbines like this Cessna Caravan:

At night, everyone eats in the big hangar and listens to the presentations, which include awards for such things as the newest pilot, the pilot who flew the furthest, etc. Once these are done, people drift to their tents or to the big communal campfire. The stars are astounding; this part of East Texas is miles from anywhere with very little light pollution. Here's a Waco at the head of a line of aircraft - check out the stars, they're not Photoshopped!

I loved seeing this Wilga fly. It has massive front slots on the wings, and levitates off the ground as a result.

And how about this nice RV-6A by the lake?

On Sunday morning, we struck camp and swapped aircraft, which meant I was to fly back in the 182. Our pilot, Shane, made good use of my ForeFlight iPhone application to check the weather for the flight. We made a quick hop over to Cherokee County airport to get some fuel (and a more in-depth weather check) before heading back to Austin Bergstrom. The whole trip was a real blast - can't wait for next year!

More photos, as ever, are this way...

And finally, below is a video I made of the weekend in general. Enjoy!