Early last week, a number of papers blew off my
desk every time the office door was opened. It seemed like all day
Monday and Tuesday I was grabbing things on my desk and picking
things up off the floor and out of the trash that I didnít grab in
After a while, I began to laugh each time that
"hair straightening wind" came in the door because I knew that to
come in that door, and at a pretty good clip, the wind had to come
from the southwest or straight out of the west. Either direction
would give Sugar Landís Regional Airport a serious crosswind on
their north-south runway. So what does that mean? Nothing much to
Itís just that so much has been made of the
dangers of crosswinds on airport runways when taking off or
landing lately, that I have become conscious of the wind and from
which direction it is coming and how fast. When we were children,
we would wet our finger and hold it up in the air to tell those
important things about the wind that kept our kites soaring and
told us how much weight we needed on the tail to keep the kite
from spinning to the ground in a high wind. Kites were handmade in
those days and took some time to make. It wasnít a quick trip to
the store for a new kite if we had enough money, and we never did.
Now, if you fly, windsocks are the wind
direction indicators, and to some degree, wind speed indicators,
as well, and it doesnít take much education to read a wind sock,
as long as you know your directions. I can read windsocks! Last
Thursday, I read the windsock on the top of a hanger at the Arcola
Airport. It said the wind was blowing from north to south at a
pretty good clip because the sock was standing straight out
continuously, with no slack.
Iíd made a quick trip to the airport to take a
few pictures and since I had to detour around the sink hole on
Hwy. 521, I came down Hwy. 288. I saw a great deal of new
construction that I had not seen before and was amazed at the new
subdivisions, strip centers and buildings in general. It looked
like Caterpillar heaven with all those yellow machines scraping
and pushing and piling the dirt.
When I was at the airport, I commented about
the new construction that I had seen, that really surprised me.
They were even building an overpass on Hwy. 6 almost at the door
of the Arcola Airport to take traffic over 521. Those builders
didnít seem to worry that they were building close to an airport -
surely they had noticed the airplanes. I had, and loved it.
Someone asked if I had seen that area from the
air and I said, "No, but Iíd like to see it someday." Well, when
he said, "How about right now," I thought I canít do that now,
thereís a serious crosswind out there and that will scare me, but
I said, "Fine, Iíd like that."
So he got a plane and a girl pilot (there are
two flight schools on the airport that are owned by women) and in
short order, we were sitting in a Cessna Skyhawk and she, Kathy
Anderson, was reading a check list, which is something I have not
seen done since I quit flying for Braniff Airways in 1951, when I
When she finished, we headed down the runway
(the dangerous east-west runway) in the crosswind. We must have
missed it because I didnít feel anything unusual, even when we
flew by the hanger with the windsock on it. The windsock was still
straight out indicating a brisk north wind. I thought maybe we
would see it on the way back because after all Iíve heard lately,
I hated to miss it.
After we got up a bit and I looked around to
see just where I was, I was really amazed. It looked like every
acre of land from Missouri City to Brazoria County and beyond has
some kind of construction going on, and not only houses but
infrastructure as well. One place I saw they were making a lake
(dug a hole and filled it with water) and were selling lake front
The construction is marching down both sides of
Hwy. 288, all the way to Hwy. 6 (only commissioners court knows
why Hwy. 288 isnít in Fort Bend County and also why there is a
dump, for Houstonís trash, on Hwy. 521 in Fort Bend County). The
east end of Fort Bend County is growing at a terrific pace, and in
the middle of winter, too. All in all, the air view was a
mind-boggling revelation to me and the flight was a thrill - took
me back to the time when I was 18 and flying in a small plane.
By the way, I didnít feel any crosswind when we
landed either. Maybe Kathy is a better than average pilot.
Actually, she is an instructor. Anyway, I got a hands-on air tour
of east Fort Bend County - well not quite! Kathy had taken off her
shoes that had heavy soles to be better able to feel the controls.
She did keep her socks on though because if gets chilly up there.
So my tour was more feet-on and hands-on. And you know, another
good thing, I didnít have to go through security screening,
searching, frisking, strip-searching, questioning or all of the
above. It was just like the old days.
Now did you get my point? We have here a little
old gray-haired lady and a girl pilot, with no shoes on, taking
off and landing in a serious crosswind from an airport located
between two major corridors (Hwy. 288 and the proposed Fort Bend
Toll Road), and surrounded by thousands of acres of construction
with potential customers for said airport when space becomes
available (the airport is full right now).
Remember when Houston had a "dingbat" mayor and
a city council that decided that one airport was enough for
Houston, and they closed Hobby Airport? Well, I do. I even wrote
three columns in this very paper about the "ghosts of airports -
past." And where is Hobby Airport now? Well, itís not closed.