This post by Stirling Moore, one of our two 2015 LadiesLoveTaildraggers Scholarship winners, is a glowing testimonial about her experiences at Tailwheel Town and appreciation for the scholarship.

My time in Tailwheel Town

by Stirling Moore

I flew this morning. It was a gorgeous, bluebird day and I meandered over the county, checking livestock, water, fence lines, and tipping my wings at neighboring ranchers as they went about their morning tasks on the ground. I wandered until it was time to move cattle, then I landed and hustled to saddle my horse.

Writing this post was on my mind the entire time. Every time I fly I’m reminded how fortunate we are to have that option to wake up and do what we love, to be part of a wonderful community characterized by the joy and passion for what we do!

Over Lake Billy Chinook in the C140

Over Lake Billy Chinook in the C140

I had been looking forward to my time in Oregon since Judy called me in the spring and let me know I had won the LLT Tailwheel Endorsement Scholarship. I was driving to take my instrument written test at the time, and the great news prompted me to happy dance just as hard as my seatbelt would allow, take the test, then hurry home and get in touch with Brian Lansburgh. We decided on the first week of July, and back in April it seemed as if my time in Oregon was an eternity away.

Practicing for the chicken drop

Practicing for the chicken drop

Luckily brandings, dockings, and online summer classes caused the time to pass much quicker than I had expected, and I was riding to town in the Sisters’ airport pickup with Brian before I knew it. I’ve always found the supportive, kind nature of the aviation world to be absolutely amazing, and from the minute I arrived in Sisters I knew I was in a special place with a truly fantastic community. This feeling was bolstered every day during my stay as I met and got to know those around me.

Brian and I started our flight training early the next morning after my arrival. I was as nervous as I was excited to begin my taildragger experience, but Brian knew just what to do to put me at ease with his C140. We spent the first few hours “shaking hands” with the airplane: taxiing a tailwheel, takeoffs and landings, doing “skydoodles” and other basic coordination exercises, and my personal favorite– proximity flying around an irrigation pivot. This is the Tailwheel Town take on the “turns around a point” maneuver, and involves keeping up airspeed and a constant bank angle around a circular field while remaining several feet off of the ground. I thought this exercise was so wild, SO fun, and I realized then that training with Brian would be unlike anything I had experienced before in the very best way!

Me with Julie & Bennie Benson

Me with Julie & Bennie Benson

The Sisters Eagle Airport was abuzz with activity throughout my stay, but especially so in preparation for and during the 4th of July Fly-In. The event team had a bevy of excellent activities that day that drew people with a wide variety of interests. The chicken drop (in which Brian and Julie Benson made a low pass in the 172, flinging rubber chickens on a game square with spaces associated with prizes as they went) proved especially popular, as did the runway drag races later in the afternoon. Best of all, most of the proceeds from the Fly-In went to the local high school Flight Science Program. I thought this was a fantastic way to increase interest in and promote aviation, and I had a great time helping with the fly-in!

We resumed our flight training on the 5th, which happened to be my 22nd birthday. Brian and I flew to Madras to practice three point and wheel landings, performance take offs, the Tailwheel Town pattern, and my first dead stick landing! Brian really puts an emphasis on practicing emergency scenarios in a way that makes one comfortable, prepared, and in control if something was to actually happen.

The view from the Sisters Eagle Airport ramp

The view from the Sisters Eagle Airport ramp

We landed in Madras, where I had the pleasure of receiving a birthday serenade and maple glazed donut from the “MadPort Bums,” an entertaining bunch of characters that meet at the airport every Sunday morning. We then strolled down the ramp to the Erickson Aircraft Collection for a neat tour of (still flying!) WWII aircraft. We returned to Sisters, and Brian taught me how to hand prop. Though initially apprehensive, I felt comfortable hand propping within minutes thanks to Brian. Later, we capped off a fantastic birthday with a lovely dinner with Julie and Benny Benson.

Brian had another treat in store for me on the 6th. We flew to Prineville and had the opportunity to take Ed Elkins’ gorgeous Super Decathlon for a spin. I don’t think there is a word that properly conveys how fun that airplane was, so I’ll just leave it at this: WOW!

Brian & I with the Super Decathlon

Brian & I with the Super Decathlon

I was supposed to depart Sisters early on the 7th, but I had decided that I was having too much fun to leave just yet. Instead, I found myself in the front seat of a J-5A Cub heading to Madras that morning for more landing practice (a big thanks to Jay & Adam Haldeman for letting me experience their Cub!). We returned to Sisters, hopped in the 140, and headed back to Madras that afternoon. While there, I got to do my second dead stick landing, and Brian introduced me to landing in a turn and slaloming down the runway. This reminded me of pole bending when I competed in high school rodeo and I really got a kick out of it. Unfortunately, my time in Tailwheel Town did have to come to an end, but not before a neighborhood barbecue at Brian’s hangar. I enjoyed wrapping up my stay by chatting with many of the wonderful people I had met!

Tomorrow morning I will catch the sunrise from the hangar before my daily ranch check. I’ll wander over the ranch like I always do, looking for anything awry to report to my ground crew before landing and starting the day’s work. Since my time in Sisters something has changed, though. I no longer fly just to fly, instead; I strive to learn something every flight and have a fantastic time while doing so. In such a short time Brian’s phenomenal instruction has made me a more competent, confident pilot, one who is constantly looking to improve upon my base knowledge and experience whatever I can along the way. Brian has taught me skills that I will utilize throughout my life in aviation, and I cannot thank LadiesLoveTaildraggers enough for the kindness and generosity extended in awarding me this opportunity! In choosing me you all have brought something amazing and positive into my life.

A dead stick landing in the C140

A dead stick landing in the C140

See you at the next fly-in!!!!!!

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