This year was the 51st Tri State Gas & Engine Show in Portland, Indiana. At this massive show, I heard one young man say to another, “This is the largest show this side of the Mississippi!”
This year International Harvester was the featured tractor and while we were enjoying views of this show from the ground, the two days we were there, we saw others enjoying it from the air. A couple of bi-planes were soaring overhead joyously dipping their wings causing envy in many of us on the ground. On the way out of town Friday before heading home, I talked Keith into following the “Bi-Plane Rides” signs out to the airport outside of Portland.
It just so happened we arrived when no others were in line. I was hoping for a cheaper price, but then, I am cheap.
Keith pretty much said, “Buck up and fork over the cash” because I had been whining about wanting to soar over Portland for two days, plus he found out that the bi-plane up for a ride next had four seats besides the pilot. I was surprised to learn that the pilot sits to the rear of the plane.
We passed over the cash in an excited daze. I had been talking to my mom before we got ready to go up not willing to concede that the two of us together were about to go up in a contraption that read, “Old Fashioned Open Air Thrill Rides” on the side.
We were very excited. We couldn’t believe we were going to go up in an open plane built in 1930. “There are only seven of these planes around,” the guide who took our money told us.
I caught that they were modern day barnstormers out of the East Coast and that they travel around to shows offering thrill rides. Two other gentlemen were the first to get into the plane. One was a seasoned flier who even flew in a Goodyear blimp once. However, they tried to squeeze two good sized men in relatively small seats and the experienced flier was just to cramped and got a bit claustrophobic and ditched us.
After the happy one-seater was buckled in, Keith and I squeezed together and buckled up for the exciting ride. It was a strange feeling to be rushing down the runway with an open cockpit. I am not afraid to fly or afraid of heights, but I admit to a minute or two of pause when we went airborne. I think Keith felt my grip rather tight on his hand as we took flight.
Once we were in the air, I forgot to be afraid and just was in awe of the wind rushing past us, the blue sky and earth below.
We dipped over the Portland show and I felt blessed and so happy that we took the time to find this adventure before heading home. This entire trip was adventurous. On the way to Portland, we skirted two tornadoes that touched down in Kokomo. We were under a watch all Wednesday evening. Then on our way home thunderstorms threatened the drive as well. Arriving home a bit later because of the ride and Keith’s obsession with the Beef House in Covington where we had to stop and have dinner, it was a great show that I will long remember because of my view from above.