Revisiting heartland skies
Beneath our wings flowed a verdant carpet of crops and trees teeming with lakes and rivers. This seemed a watery paradise compared to the stark stone beauty of our adopted Southwest, where the few natural lakes contain only seasonal water and even then might qualify as ponds anywhere else.
Equally refreshing, today’s cobalt heartland skies brimmed with music to our aviators’ ears. In contrast to largely silent radio frequencies near our remote Northern Arizona home, our headsets crackled with radio chatter from airports around the Midwest.
Jean grew up just across the Illinois line from Lake Geneva, and for years we landed at rural Galt Airport (10C) to visit her family. Back then Galt was a narrow, tree-obstructed, rough-around-the-edges strip. But after teetering on the edge of bankruptcy several years ago, the airport turned itself around and blossomed into a thriving aviation community. Seems like every month Galt boasts a hayride, a barbecue, or a flour-sack bombing contest. I knew of this vitality only through the airport newsletter, having last landed there in 2003. Now I was eager to visit the revitalized airport in person. (See “Flying Carpet: Renaissance Field,” November 2013 Flight Training).
Soon Wonder Lake appeared on the horizon, and next to it, Galt Airport. Jean and I recognized the field’s location, but not it’s appearance. The pencil-thin runway we once frequented has long been replaced by a grander one. The hangar that impinged on the west end of the runway is gone; the formerly weedy tiedowns are now paved, and there’s a spit-and-polish about the place visible even from the air.
One thing that hadn’t changed beyond fresh paint, was Galt’s nostalgic “country control tower” airport office. Now this felt like old times! While Jean and Jo chatted on the ramp-side bench, I ventured inside.
There to welcome me were Facebook friends I’d never before met in person: pilot Greg Kaiser, and his instrument instructor, Mike Nowakowski. Galt’s cheerful ground instructor, Ed Brown, piled us into a golf cart to tour the field…
**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, “FAMILY FLIERS.”**
Top Photo: “Jean and Jo at Galt Airport’s “country control tower” office, Wonder Lake, Illinois.”
Lower photo: “Ed Brown, Mike Nowakowski, Greg Kaiser, and Brian Spiro at Galt Airport’s maintenance hangar.”
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2015 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!