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Fall Georgetown Gathering for the West Coast Cessna 120/140 Club

Reprinted with permission of the West Coast Cessna 120/140 Club Sept - Oct Newsletter

Note: Pictures and images are located at the end of this article

It was again time for the Fall Gathering for the West Coast Cessna 120/140 Club. Moreover, it was again Georgetown, California. However, it was a much different time than last year. You remember that last year all airspace was restricted. Every plane was grounded. Those of you who attended remember running drag races down the runway.

A lot of things have changed since 9/11/01. We have again entered a new age of flying. However, some things never change. The West Coast Cessna 120/140 Club members will always be in air flying to a gathering in September. There will be those who camp and there will be those who will prefer the B&B in town.

Some things that I hope will never change. Having a good time flying to a great place. New members attending for the first time. Larry Cole continuing to send his ice chest with Linda Brand.

If you remember the story from last year, Larry Cole sent his ice chest filled with this favorite beer to Georgetown. However, with the flight restriction on full force he could not attend. The Club members who attended felt obligated to have a few in honor of Larry's contribution. OK, so we drank all of them and then sent back the ice chest complete with the empty cans. Larry was defiantly amused or so I was told.

This year Larry took preventive measures. When he delivered his chest to Linda he made sure that Linda knew that this year he had "booby trapped" it.

Being the boys that we are, that could only be read as a challenge for the special agent team of the West Coast Cessna Club. After several hours of compelling discussion, it was President Randy Thompson and Treasurer Don Brand who took the call to open the chest. They discovered through an ingenious use of tools on sight that the "booby trap" was just a façade; a useless ploy of Larry's to deter us from acquiring entry to his ice chest. After determining the contents were cold and ready for Larry's arrival we of course sampled some for quality.

Well, the group again began the second best thing we do, fellowship with fellow pilots and friends.

Friday night it was off to town for the Mexican dinner that we were all waiting for. Later that evening back at the campground there was renewed friendships as well as finding fellow pilots walking the tarmac enjoying the late summer evening.

Saturday morning found those in town enjoying breakfast and a hot cup of coffee and those at the campground also enjoying a hot cup of coffee and some well made breakfast treats. There was one thing left out that early morning, do dawn patrol. Only a lone Cessna doing a few fly-bys for a photo opportunity, playing with the sunrise. Overall, it was a quite morning.

Next, it was the briefing for the poker run. President Randy Thompson. Randy told us about the three airports where the cards were and the special arrangements that were made with Ken & Sandy Blankenberg at Pine Mountain airport. I said this before and I will say it again, if you are in the Pine Mountain area, take a look at the hangers at the north end of the runway. If they are open a crack, stop by and you may be treated to one of the finest antique collections of airplane memorabilia I have been witness to.

Returning to Georgetown after members enjoyed lunch all over central California; it was the flour-bombing and spot-landing contest. Some great times with great friends.

Everything was pretty routine until the awards were being handed out during the board meeting. That is were the true spirit of the club shined through.

Apparently former president John Westra returned to Georgetown with his Cessna 182 full of passengers, he made a great landing just past the line piloting from the left seat. Allowing his passengers to exit Gil Hasler and John departed to participate in the flour bombing event, this time flying from the right seat. Gil used the left window, the only window that opened in the 182, to drop the bombs. After they finished, John again landed the airplane even closer to the line. For a brief moment, the judges awarded the two of them first and second place.

That's where the honesty started. Gil would not accept the award because John was actually flying the airplane on both landings. This is what our group is all about.

One major change for our club was in regards to our Historian. Our President, attempted to contact our historian to express our needs. Gil Hasler was then approached as a potential replacement, he graciously accepted the position and is currently digging through his archives making sure he has each and every issue of the West Coast Cessna 120/140 newsletter. In later issues, we will bring you up to date as to what he finds or does not find.

While the business of the board meeting was taking place and the raffle prize winners were allowed to the gift table, the rest of the game results were announced. One of the truly enjoyable awards is the Youngest Pilot award. This fall that award was given to Land McCarley from Santa Ynez. Incidentally, he flew in a T-6. What a rush.

Then it was time for Champagne Cork-Off. Once again, bottles were bought and those who were ready stepped up to the line and gave it their best shot. There was one thing missing though, Pat Cashman the "King" of the long shot retired this year. Well, everything good thing doesn't come to a end when Pat stepped up to the line and took a honorary shot.

It was then time for dinner and again the local EAA Chapter served a great meal. Were it was served made it even better, on the campground on the airfield. Eating a steak or chicken dinner under the trees as the evening sky become red with a brilliant sunset surrounded by friends what could be better. Little did we know?

As the evening went on the group began to commingle in several groups. Some gathered around a lantern near the tents listening to the sounds of our local guitar player. Others danced to the tunes of Jim Couche as they were played, while other walked the tarmac with a glass of wine in hand.

It was a night full of stars that you do not see when you live in the city. Way out there in the distance you could here the distinctive sound of a helicopter approaching. As the sound only got louder, it was only the stars in the night sky that showed a silhouette of what was to come, or what we thought was there.

Jason Brand retrieved his handheld radio from his tent and we tuned it to the com frequency. It seems that a Black Hawk medivack team was doing a practice drop and retrieval from the north end of the runway. We took the opportunity with the handheld to introduce ourselves and ask them for a show making sure not to trip the runway lights. They were in full night deployment complete with night vision goggles.

On the end of the drop cable, was a basket with a 250-pound dummy aboard. Of course, many of our famous club members were quick to volunteer for the drop. Even faster were those willing to nominate others for the ride using the word "dummy" in clear fashion.

After an hour of drop and recovery, the still unseen Black Hawk bid us a due, and left for home, where ever that may be. We as a group thanked them for the show and their service for our protection and safety. However, they did return the following morning to retrieve some of their forgotten practice soldiers. I took the liberty to again assure them that Pat had unfortunately already returned home. Sorry, Pat.

The club was more true to form that morning. Don Simmons closely followed by Jason Brand led early dawn patrol.

So it was in Georgetown the fall of 2002. As the group began to pack up and depart, our minds began to think of the next time we gather. Shelter Cove in November.

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