Total Solar Eclipse 2017

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Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Posted by David Tulis on May 5, 2017 4:25 pm

The Total Solar Eclipse 2017 hangar discussion is a place for aviation enthusiasts to share and gear up for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse that will sweep the U.S. From Oregon to South Carolina, pilots, astronomers, photographers, and school groups will have a unique chance to participate in what many are calling a once-in-a-lifetime event. Send in your ideas and gatherings and let's get the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 party started!
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Re: Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Posted by David Tulis on Aug 25, 2017 11:43 am

Montana hot air balloon pilot Colin Graham and his wife Brittany floated into the solar eclipse from their Bozeman, Montana, location. Colin said they experienced a partial eclipse and although things didn't look "that much different" from a normal day, he was still glad to go aloft during the event. For more info on ballooning, find Colin at Montanaballoon.com. 

Re: Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Posted by David Tulis on Aug 25, 2017 12:49 pm

Aegis ATC was on site at Oregon¹s Madras Municipal Airport and provided temporary air traffic control services for more than 1,000 operations during the solar eclipse event!

Company co-founders Daniel Dierickx, Alex Fugate, and a handful of professional controllers worked shifts throughout the weekend to make sure operations ran smoothly.

Dierickx said that in addition to the numbers above,
850 jumpers went out the door while the tower was in operation. "We also had drone flights, weather balloons, hot air balloons and firefighting operations," Daniel said via email. "We had such a great time meeting all the pilots and seeing all of the cool planes. It was a once in a lifetime event for us."

The photo below from the temporary tower facility at Madras shows controller Marney Tyler with Mt. Jefferson in the background. Madras is normally an uncontrolled airfield.

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Re: Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Posted by Michael Mendenhall on Aug 25, 2017 1:54 pm

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Well, it's over... And wow, what an experience! I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on flying to Triple Tree Aerodrome for the Great American Eclipse. There are really no words that can adequately express the feeling of awe at seeing a total eclipse. It is unlike anything I've ever witnessed before. But almost as impressive as the eclipse were the surroundings from which I watched it.

I have to talk about Triple Tree Aerodrome and the folks who volunteered their time to make this one of the best fly-in experiences I've ever had.  Sunday morning's flight to Triple Tree started at my home airport at 7:00. We had a group of five planes scheduled to fly up from Stockmar in Villa Rica Georgia; a Howard DGA-15, a Cessna 182, A Piper Cherokee 140 and two Cessna 172s.  Quite a variation in cruise speeds and pilot experience dictated that we were NOT flying together, so we agreed that we would meet up to camp together once we arrived.

Arrival at Triple Tree was via the published procedure provided on their web page. The Walmart warehouse was easy to locate and the rest of the procedure was exactly as described. Spotting the 7000 foot by 400+ foot runway from the turn-in point at Enoree was easy. The tower at Triple Tree was manned and the welcoming voice of the controller guided us to our touchdown point on the beautiful, expansive runway. Switching to the Ground frequency, we were again welcomed to Triple Tree and asked to follow a golf cart to our parking location. I asked to be parked with our group from Stockmar (The group with the Howard) and the cart driver knew right where to take us. We were parked in the morning shade of a cluster of trees, line abreast with the 182 and Howard, shutting down our bird we were yet again welcomed to Triple Tree by the volunteer ground handler.

Stepping out of the plane I was impressed by my surroundings; to say that Triple Tree has a lot of well-groomed grass would be a gross understatement! This Mecca of General Aviation is a 400 acre celebration of manicured grass. The entire facility has the feel of a golf course. I half expected to see a sign next to the runway "Pilots please repair all divots."! As we began unpacking our camping gear, the sound of arriving aircraft was a constant drone. It seemed there were typically three to five aircraft in the pattern at any given time. Unpacking and pitching my tent was slowed by the constant turning skyward to watch the next plane cross overhead and enter the downwind for runway 03.

After setting up the tent I walked over to the pavilion to register and give my donation for camping.  Sitting in a golf cart was Pat Hartness, the manager of the 501(c)3 responsible for maintaining Triple Tree. I introduced myself to Pat and thanked him for opening up the airport for the eclipse fly-in. He asked if I had ever been to Triple Tree before and when I said “No, this was my first time” he insisted on giving me a tour of the facilities.  I climbed into the right seat of his cart and off we went.  Leaving the Pavilion, we circled around the bathhouse and drove between rows of parked aircraft, tents, RVs (the camping kind and the winged ones too!). Pat explained that Triple Tree was here for us, the flying General Aviation pilots and aviation public. He took me down to the banks of the Enoree River that border the camping area on one side. Planes were parked by the water, tents pitched and folding chairs under their wings. Several folks were wading in the water at a sandy bend in the river. “If you get too hot, come on down here and cool off.” Pat told me. Pat went on to explain that the airport sits on 400 acres of land that has been improved and that the 501c is continuing to make improvements to the facilities. There are camping sites with power and water available, the bathhouse had been added onto and is as nice as any I’ve seen at any camping site. As we drove past a small fishing pond Pat explained: “We needed to level the runway with some dirt, so we decided to dig out this lake for the dirt. Now we have a pond that kids can fish in, and the runway is leveled.” That’s the kind of efficient use of resources Pat likes.

Up the hill on the other side of the runway, next to the 50 acre lake sits the hanger that houses Triple Tree’s impressive collection of beautiful aircraft: the P-51 Mustang, Spartan Executive, AirCam, BT-13, DG-500 sailplane and too many RC aircraft to count. Behind the hanger is the (air conditioned!) education building that houses several RC flight simulators and a large classroom. Several other buildings sit in this cluster, including the “General Store” that is actually a workshop.

After the tour, Pat dropped me back off at the Pavilion and I walked back to my plane. I decided to walk over to the hill next to the Control Tower and watch some landings from the shade under the trees there. I grabbed my camera and folding chair, walked over and sat with a group of other people with the same idea. A steady stream of Cessna, Piper, Beechcraft, Aeronca, Vans RV, and many other types of aircraft created a parade of landings and we all sat and enjoyed the show. Talking with some of the others there I met pilots and passengers from Virginia, New York, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Alabama. There was a group of CAP cadets sitting with their leader and his puppy. (Yes, four legged aviators are welcome at Triple Tree and quite a few were there.) We all sat and critiqued landings. Some more ‘interesting’ than others… One of the Triple Tree Volunteers came by on a golf cart with a cooler full of bottled water on ice and offered drinks to anyone wanting one. This was just one small example of the hospitality of the crew at Triple Tree. I was enjoying the experience of Triple Tree and comradery so much that I had to remind myself that this was a fly-in to view the eclipse.

Later in the evening the Triple Tree school busses arrived at the pavilion and carried us up the hill to the “Cook Your Own” steak dinner in front of the big hangar. I later learned that 540 steak dinners were available, and 540 steak dinners were sold. The dinner was 25 dollars, and included either a Fillet or NY strip, salad with all the fixings, green beans, drink and a brownie. My NY Strip was fantastic. While we were eating we were treated to flight demonstrations of several RC slow fliers and one RC FPV quad-copter. In the distance I watched a Cessna on amphibious floats land and taxi to the camping area.  At 8:00 PM there were still aircraft landing at Triple Tree.

After dinner, a bus ride back to the camping area, and a much needed and enjoyed shower I sat at the pavilion and watched the stars come out and the aerobatic antics of a fully illuminated electric RC airplane. What an ending to a perfectly wonderful day!

Monday morning, Eclipse Day! I woke up to the sound of someone taxiing out for dawn patrol and the drone of several planes arriving for the eclipse. Breakfast was catered by a local restaurant, A Taste of Home, and was served in the big tent next to the pavilion. A generous helping of scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, biscuit and gravy and a sausage patty, coffee and juice insured that hunger pangs were not in the immediate future. While eating I watched a father and his son catch a nice sized bass from the pond next to the breakfast tent, while a young girl demonstrated her casting prowess with a bobber and cricket. In the background, an increasing stream of pilots were again filling the pattern and touching down on the more than ample Triple Tree grass strip.

After eating and finishing up my other morning duties, I again made my way to the hill under the tower to enjoy a morning of watching landings. I estimate that at least 100 planes landed Monday morning.  To me the highlight of the morning was the Candler Field Express DC-3 arriving from south of Atlanta.  Pilot Jim Sells gave a textbook demonstration of how to land a DC-3. What a beautiful lady she is!

After watching a few more landings it was time to get ready for the big event, so I made my way back to my tent, set up my GoPro on time lapse at 5 second intervals, got out my Eclipse Glasses and watched as the moon took its first nibble out of the upper right hand corner of the sun. At this point I could start to see others wearing their glasses, faces upturned to watch and marvel.  Slowly the bite became bigger. Yet the effect on the ground was really not noticeable.  Even at 50% eclipsed, there was not a big difference in daylight.

But as we started to reach totality, more and more people stopped whatever they had been doing and gazed sunward. Cameras started clicking and voices became hushed. Slowly midday turned to dusk as more and more of the sun was consumed by the moon. As totality approached, the cumulous clouds that had dotted the sky vanished and the sky over Triple Tree became totally clear. The sliver of sun still visible shrank to a dot on the edge of the dark face of the moon and suddenly was replaced by the flare of the corona, a fiery ring surrounding a black hole in the sky.  Crickets began chirping, the air grew noticeably cooler and a spontaneous cheer rose all around the field. I could hear hushed “Wow!”s, gasps and other sounds of amazement. One man was on the phone with his wife who was not in the totality trying with excited words to explain what he was seeing to her. I had my camera up, intending to take pictures of the corona, the surrounding sky, and the people around me. There was two minutes and six seconds of totality at Triple Tree and I intended to take advantage of every second. Two minutes and six seconds goes by like a blink when the sun turns black in the sky…

As quickly as day had turned to dusk. The “diamond ring” signaling the end of totality appeared and dusk returned to day. The moon relinquished her prize. The sun again was master of the day. Eclipse glasses were re-donned. The magic moment was over. People began moving about; crickets, confused I’m sure by the brief night, stopped chirping and Triple Tree once again became an aerodrome.

Shortly, the sound of aircraft engines and propellers grew into a symphony as pilots began the process of leaving for home.  I’m sure many had jobs to get to Tuesday morning and were anxious to get in the air.  As I stood there, soaking in the sight and sound - the sound of 75 or more Continental, Lycoming and maybe a Pratt and Whitney, Franklin and a few Rotax engines coming to life, my mind was transported back to when I was 4 or 5 years old and my Dad would take us to the airport in Des Moines Iowa to watch the passenger airplanes take off and land. Gone are the days of the DC-3, DC-4 DC-6, Convair, and Constellation. But the sounds were still there in the recesses of my childhood memories.

As I reflect on the events this week at Triple Tree, I want to thank Pat Hartness and the fantastic crew of volunteers there for opening the Aerodrome for us to use. I want to thank the folks at AOPA for helping to publicize the fly-in. I also want to thank every pilot who flew into Triple Tree for the eclipse for contributing to the experience. I trust and hope each of us have memories of the Great American Eclipse, and our common experience of sharing it together at Triple Tree. What an honor to be part of the family of brothers and sisters who share a love of the sky and the amazing machines that transform humans into sky-borne creatures.ab2d1759aad1e7d8f2eaea025b1ca635-huge-im
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