As told by Rick Kesler, current Board Member and Chief Instructor
Club member from 1972 to present
In 1972, Ira Marshall did the scheduling by phone. Bill Waite was a club officer, maybe president. Terry McNice was administrator. Chuck Digby was chief instructor. He worked in the Jeffco tower as a controller. We could visit him in the tower and learn lots. When doing approaches over Denver Chuck had all sorts of buddies in air traffic control he would converse with. I joined Chuck in club instructing after I got my CFI in about 1973 or so.
It was standard those days to take members on check rides into Stapleton for familiarization. We would park at Butler Aviation, get out and get a coffee, then fly back. The ground operations were the most daunting.
1980s circa I had the other club C182, N2888R, on a camping trip to Wyoming. While gone a tornado or whatever they called it then blew down the row of hangars west of Hangar 24. Friends came out to try to find my car but it was safe in Hangar 25. This incident precipitated the installation of the tie down cables we presently have. What blew down that row of hangars would not have been deterred by the present cable system.
We used to have a Cessna 172 in the club, N3712F. Good 172 but members wanted to take trips so sold the C172 and bought N1735M. Those days needed to think about scheduling an airplane early spring because of availability. 1990’s or so members were older and economic times tougher so sold the original Ci82 and had only 35M until recent times.
Had a DC10 pilot in the club once. Legend has it that he once brought 3 friends out for a ride; Took off with only 2 of them. The other was locked inadvertently in the hangar for the duration of the flight.
Once returning from Wyoming with 4 aboard we got over the top of Corona pass when a bearing on the alternator failed. The alternator shaft shifted enough that the cooling fins impinged on a metal housing making an awful racket. That plus the alternator belt now rubbed on something emitting enough smoke that we could detect something burning. Turned back towards Frazier, the closest level ground; made an entry for the hang glider field there. The noise stopped abruptly when the alternator belt broke. All else working well,; climbed and continued to Granby where friends came and gave us a ride back. Mel Moore, our mechanic club member drove out and fixed the airplane. Ferried it back later that week.
No fuel farm in those days so unicombed the local FBO where Signature is now. Their truck would drive over and fill up the plane for about $1.00 per gallon. Helped push it back into the hangar also.
Also no security system then so no problem accessing the hangar.
Mostly small plane tie downs with few jets visible.
Once we flew to Lander, Wyoming for a weekend to scout access to our upcoming backpacking trip. The Sunday night before we flew back we camped under 35M at the airport. One of our little group was from Newfoundland. He gets up in the early dawn and comes back saying “Me thinks me seen an elephant!” We assured him the nearest elephant was far away. Needless I followed him back up the hill. Unbeknownst to us a circus had moved into the arena above the airport over night. Sure enough 3 elephants were staked down nearby.
Not much for services in Dubois, Wyoming. Self serve gas pumps and one visible tie down. Good place to view the eclipse a couple summers ago. Anyway went to take the son and lady friend for a short ride. Put flaps down during the runup and could only raise them half way. Greg @ Executive Air told me to go to the local hardware store and get some tools. Called him back and was directed what hatch to uncover and how to raise the flaps. How many have ever needed to do that?
Icing over the Continental Divide.
On a trip back from a meeting in Salt Lake City on October 8, 1975 in N2888R. Bill had two of his CU students with him. Here’s how he recalls the trip:
We were on an IFR flight plan, on top of an overcast layer at 13,000’, roughly halfway between CKW and LAR on V4. We had about a 30kt tailwind. There was a huge wall of cloud ahead, tops at least 5,000’ above us. I asked the controller if he had any reports of icing in the clouds. His response was that a twin had come through about 10 minutes earlier, negative ice. I responded that I’d let him know…
We went into the clouds, and picked up about half an inch of ice in less than 30 seconds. I called the controller and told him the situation, and asked how wide the clouds were, but he had no information. I told him we were reversing course. By then it was becoming difficult to maintain altitude. The tailwind going in was a headwind coming out, and it took an age to emerge. It was impossible to maintain altitude, so we were descending albeit slowly. The controller was with me continuously, and at one point he said “Do not descend — you’re over a mountain!” I was doing my best, but we were still descending. The peak right under the airway there is just over 10,000’, and we were still probably a thousand feet above it.
We finally broke out on top on the west side, and found a hole to descend through. I was below the controller’s minimum vectoring altitude, but the visibility underneath was unlimited and the ceiling was at least 3,000’, so I cancelled IFR and followed I-80 to Laramie and then V4 again. We were carrying about a 40º crab to hold our course over the interstate, and I heard later that Western Airlines had cancelled their flights to Laramie due to wind. We didn’t lose the ice until we descended over the ridge west of Fort Collins, when it came off in big chunks that hit the tail and made a hell of a racket.
As we descended by Ft Collins, I called flight service for the BJC weather and learned that the winds were 60G90! But it was around dusk by then, and when we actually got to BJC the wind was 17kt out of the west.
It was an interesting trip to say the least…