A quick phone call from my friend, Eric Presten, had us sorting out our schedule for the day. We planned to meet him after noon at his house and go from there to the local Sonoma airports.
Before meeting up with the Presten's, my wife and I took a side road into the Sonoma town square to avoid the 4th of July crowds who were departing from the morning parade. It worked out well for us to slide into a recently vacated parking spot to be close to the action. The center of the square was full of vendors and local artists selling their creations. A short walk around the art and a few shops visited along the square and it was time to head to the Presten's.
I met Eric many years ago back when I was actively dealing in aviation books at local shows. Eric has published a number of books focusing on vintage aircraft that I would offer for sale. He writes the most complete, photographic books covering vintage aircraft available today. Upon arriving at the Presten's house Eric had us pull up chairs to his iMac for a preview of his latest book featuring his photographs. It is packed full of pictures of rare aircraft types from the early 1900s through the 1950s. When available later this year it will be a must have for any aviation enthusiast!
Debbie, Eric, Candice and I hit a local spot for lunch before Eric took us on a tour of the two Sonoma airports. Stories of airplanes, pilots and airshows would dominate the topics for the remainder of the day! The Sonoma Valley Airport was first on airport tours. Eric gave us the drive through tour of the airport and we stopped at a couple hangars to see some prized pieces of aeronautical art! A Curtiss Jenny, Stearman, Ryan STA, OX powered Bird and Kreider-Reisner, Peitenpol, F3F project, Pilatus P-2 (One from the movie Indian Jones and the Last Crusade!) and many more.
|The KR and the Peitenpol|
|Dan and the Ryan STA|
Then it was on to Sonoma Skypark to see the Presten's Piper Clipper. We loaded up and took a short arial tour of the Sonoma Valley in the Clipper. Town square, wineries, two airports and the local park where the evenings fireworks would be, were all spotted on the short flight over the picturesque landscape.
|Dan, Candice and Eric in the Clipper|
|Dan flying the Clipper|
|Sonoma Valley Airport|
|The hills near Sonoma looking towards San Francisco|
|Landing at Skypark|
|Dan and Eric with the Clipper|
On landing we were greeted by Trevor Meeks, a friend and hangar neighbor of Eric's. We talked Cessna 170s for a few minutes as he has a clean 170A. Hangared along with the 170 is his dad's beautiful cream and green Interstate Cadet. It didn't take long for Eric to give Trevor and I an ear full about the difference in his preferred flying qualities of the Clipper versus our 170's. We laughed it off and loaded back into the rent car to return to the Presten's house.
Being that we were in small town America, the Presten's treated Candice and I to a picnic in the park for the fireworks. Debbie packed us a great meal complete with fried chicken, cheese & crackers with salami, homemade pea salad & potato salad. We ate like royalty! The park was just a short walk from their house in a large field that made for a front row seat to the show. As darkness fell on the field a spectacular fireworks display kicked off. Candice and I agreed this was one of the best fireworks displays we had ever seen. It certainly was the closest I had ever been too. A great way to celebrate the 4th of July! Visit with friends, see some airplanes and fireworks to top it all off!
The local traffic was a bit thick on our walk back to the house so we spent some more time at the Presten house sitting around the dinner table and enjoying strawberry pie while Eric and I talked about airplanes as the traffic thinned out. After a full day and a late night we retired back to the Fairmont...ahhh the Fairmont.