Aviation Stories and Aviation News

Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation – Dick Reade

Business Spotlight

Mid Continent Aircraft Corporation

By Ralph McCormick

Where in the world is Hayti (pronounced Hay-Tie), Missouri?  If you get a map out and look to the lower southeast part of Missouri, commonly know as the “Boot Heel.”  Look real hard you will see the town of Hayti.  The small town is located in an agriculture area.

One of America’s longest operating successful aviation businesses flies out of Hayti.Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation, which was started in 1949 by Dick Reade, continues to be owned and operated by him.

Dick Reade graduated from Iowa State University.  He joined the Army Air Corp, during WW II, as a combat pilot in P-38’s in the Pacific.  Reade was the first president of National Agriculture Aviation Association and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Museum of Agriculture. He flies around 140 hours per year even with the responsibilities of managing the complex aviation industry he has built.

The Hayti location chosen in 1949 is still the location of Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation. The interstate runs along the 3,400-foot sod runway.  Obviously, Mid­ Continent was there long before the Interstate came into being.  Mid-Continent’s strip in Hayti is one of the few privately owned commercial airprtts.

The emphasis in the early days was on agricultural aviation.  In early years, the company was basically an Ag flying company. In 1959, they started selling Ag Cats and moving on to personal aircraft in later years. The new sales business created a supply of used Stearmans.  What to do with them was the next question? Thus, in 1963, came the business of refurbishment of the old used Stearmans.  This was a ground-up restoration including new wood.  The rebuilding of Stearmans gave them worldwide recognition. A Stearman was built at Mid-Continent for the popular sixties actor, Steve McQueen.

Mid-Continent Aircraft Corporation had Ag operations in Canada, Minnesota, Dakota, Washington, Arizona, and Mississippi.  As times changes, the Ag business was consolidated into one location at Parkin, Arkansas.  Dennie Stokes is the manager. Several states are covered from the Parkin branch of Mid-Continent Aviation.  In 1993, they became a Cessna Service Center, later becoming a Cessna Distributor for Arkansas, Southern Missouri, West Tennessee, and West Kentucky.  This was their segue into general aviation. They sell Cessna, agricultural aircraft and parts worldwide.

Not to be slowed down, the natural turn was to move into the insurance brokerage business. Today they are one of the largest agricultural and personal aircraft aviation insurance agencies in the USA.

Mid-Continent also has an FAA approved maintenance and repair station in Hayti.  They keep a large parts warehouse in south Louisiana. Parkin, Arkansas, is the headquarters.

Editor’s Note: Mid-Continent has been an advertiser in FLY-LOW since the first issue over twelve years ago.



Have a Competitive Spirit
Want to test your plane and your pilot skills
Want to compete for an International Championship
Love to fly in a fun and safe environment
Love to gather with your peers

The count down has begun for the start of the First Annual International Air Meet-ChampionshipCross Country Air Races.
Entry deadline is May 27, 2013.
If you are an experienced racer or if you are ready to fly your first air race, the “Air Meet” is the place to be.  You will be part of an historic event marking the launch of the annual Meet for the Sport of Cross Country Air Racing!
All propeller driven fixed wing aircraft may take part in the classed, timed competition.  All pilots are welcome.
Flying is VFR and in strict adherence to all FAR’s.
It all happens at Durant, Oklahoma, Municipal Airport-Eaker Field.  The airport is ready to welcome all and boasts a new state of the art terminal.
Participants will be staying at the adjacent Choctaw Resort Casino.  When not flying the racers will have a world class resort to enjoy.

Bobby Bennett has put out the challenge to all in Factory 1RG class and to all Bonanzas. His S35 Bonanza, the “Cowboy Cadillac” is the current top speed record holder in class. Who has the fastest Bonanza in the world?  Can you out run the “Cowboy” and his “Cadillac”?
On June 7, 2013, the 100nm round robin event takes place.  This is a Sport Air Racing League Championship point race.  League classes will be used.  Trophies are awarded for 1st through 4th place and there will be additional prizes.  The course covers Oklahoma and Texas with 5 turns.  Flying the “100” is fast and challenging and offers the opportunity to build points toward the annual Sport League Championships.

The one day 600 Mile Cup Race takes place on June 8, 2013.  The round robin course has two no penalty fuel stops.  Pilots have a race window in which to cover the course. Flight planning is a key to success.  The “600” offers no League Championship points.  Classes are expanded with the full lineup of sanctioned League classes  and the addition of  Challenge Class racing and the ultimate Cup Championships in 12 categories.  Challenge racing is for aircraft of the same make/model and there must be 3 or more to make a class. Trophies are given for 1st through 4th place in all classes. The Cups are awarded to the very fastest in categories. Here is where the fastest in the world will be crowned.  Manufacturers have the opportunity to prove, in the real world of cross country flying, the performance of their planes.  Factory cups are awarded for single and Multi Engine normally aspirated, single and multi engine turbo/super charged and single and multi engine turbine.  Home builders compete in Experimental in single and multi engine normally aspirated, single and multi engine turbo/super chareged and single engine turbine.  Those who fly our venerable War Birds and classics compete in Heavy Metal single and multi engine.

Idaho EXPO

The 3rd annual Idaho Aviation Expo 2013 will be held on Friday and Saturday, May 17th and 18th, 2013. The expo will feature new and vintage aircraft, parts and avionics, clubs and associations, workshops and speakers, and all other things aviation related in Aero Mark’s 30,000 sq. ft. extra large hangar at Idaho Falls Regional Airport in Idaho Falls, Idaho (KIDA). Held in conjunction with the Idaho Aviation Association’s Annual Meeting, the expo is open to everyone interested in or involved in general aviation.

Last year’s show featured, among the 37 exhibitors, new aircraft displays from Aviat, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Cirrus, Piper and Quest. Richard Holm, author of Bound for the Backcountry: A History of Idaho’s remote airstrips, will be signing his book and giving a presentation on his research during the expo on Friday the 17th

Admission to the expo will be $10 at the door, which includes all workshops and both days of the expo. If you have any questions about attending, or exhibiting at, Idaho Aviation Expo 2013, contact Thomas Hoff at thomas@aeromark.com, or 208-524-1202. Come see bush planes to turboprops; from backcountry to business. All in one big hangar!

Thomas Hoff


1940 International Way

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83406

February Race Report SARL

By Pat Purcell

Aviators are a breed apart.  They rise to every occasion. While the world economies struggle and forecasts of our future are bleak, the pilots have scheduled 23 Sport League Sanctioned events.  The Reno Championship Air Races are a go for 2013 and the all women’s Air Race Classic is accepting entries for the June race.

The intrepid race pilots and event organizers are ready for 2013 with races scheduled from April through November.   The races are organized and published. There are several locations finishing up details before being added to the schedule.  It is all waiting for the pilots to come and enjoy.

Many pilots take advantage of the winter break to rebuild or modify their aircraft.  “Racer” Bob Axsom, #71, attended the Lycoming engine school.  He then flew his Vans RV-6A to the Red Hamilton ‘Skunk Works’ in Fort Bragg, California.  Bob, Red and Marilyn (Red’s wife) rebuilt Bob’s engine.  Even though Bob took the Bronze Experimental Championship in 2012, he could not best the RV-8’s in his class.  He hopes that Red has worked his magic and he will be highly competitive in 2013.  Red hold two all time class speed records with his Wittman Tailwind and his classic Cessna 180.  Word is circulating that Factory Champions Bobby Bennett and Jim Huff may be leaving their Bonanzas in the hangar and heading for the start line in new experimentals.

There is a full card of races during April, May and June.  I will give you a preview of the early season and then look for more about the balance of the season in March and April issues.  Texas will host the majority of the events in deference to the summer heat.  It all starts April 6th at KGYI, North Texas Regional Airport, Sherman/Denison, TX with the 6th annual Texoma 100.  The air will be electric.  After months with no competition the pilots will be hyped and anxious to see what all the winter work will bring to the race course.

League Chairman, Mike Thompson will host the Taylor (TX) race on April 13th.  This is one of the original league races.  After Texoma, the secrets may be out but then the competition will really heat up.

A carpet of spectacular wildflowers awaits those who head to the Texas Hill Country on April 27th.  Alan Crawford hosts his second Hill Country race at Llano, TX.  Alan enlists his family to help and they put on a real Texas shindig for all.

May starts out with two events set for the 4th.   A new race launches at Kinston, North Carolina.  The Pigs Fly Air Race puts an event in easy reach of the East Coasters.

That same day, the Big Country Air Fest at Abilene, TX will present Big Country Air Race.  This is one of the longest running League events and takes place alongside a major air show.

The third annual Lone Star Air Race, May 18th offers one of them most challenging courses and a great destination.  Meet the challenge and enjoy Galveston beaches and attractions.

Memorial Day Air Race, May 25th, returns for the third time to Terrell, TX.  This airport boasts a new terminal and facilities and the FBO is family operated, which means…”Texas Hospitality”.

On June 6th – 9th, Durant, Oklahoma will see the launch of the First Annual International Air Meet-Championship Cross Country Air Races.  This event will be a multi race meeting providing a gathering place for all racers to come together once a year.  The 2013 meet will offer a 100 mile and 600 mile race and is Sport League sanctioned.  There are expanded classes, all classed timed.  There is no handicapping.  Producer, Patricia Purcell, is pulling out all the stops to present a major event for the race community.

A new race at Marysville, Ohio closes out June on the 29th.   With a name like the Firecracker 100 it is sure to be a real blast.

2013 is a great year to come out and race.  There are 23 Sport League sanctioned races on the calendar.  The Reno Championship Air Races are set for September and the all women’s Air Race Classic runs in June and is now open for entries.

The Sport Air Racing League maintains a current Calendar of Events.




Texas PIlot’s Association News

A year ago I mentioned the first flight in Denton county and promised an article on it.  Here is the first article.

Most people, me included, would think it was big folks, adults who had some engineering expertise or at least experience, like the Wright Brothers, who would do such a thing.   But it wasn’t; it was kids and they really did fly.

So, once upon a time in a small town in Texas there were 4 kids who were bored at what they could find to occupy their minds.  The oldest, Walker Jagoe, was 14 and the youngest 12, was Robert Storrie.  The year was 1910.

The small town was Denton, Texas, and the boys were friends and occupied their fertile minds with the building of gadgets for their own enjoyment.  Remember that in 1910 there were no movies and very few ways for teenagers to be entertained.

The boys obtained a copy of a book by Leonardo De Vinci that contained drawings for a wondrous machine, a glider.  Walker Jagoe and Robert Storrie were always inventing gadgets.   This was no different, just larger.  They collecting materials and figuring out how to make a working model of Leonardo’s glider.

They built it and set about to fly it.  The first idea was to launch the plane from the top of a building at the local college, now named Texsas Womans University, TWU, but they got caught and were ordered not to attempt such a foolhardy thing again.  That was fortunate because they might well have badly injured or killed the pilot, launching from 30 or 40 feet in the air.

Not to be thwarted, they decided to launch it on the hill beside the building they envied. It was a downhill run, but they needed a pull.  They got a horse (or a mule; the stories vary somewhat on the “engine”.)  After a short pull the animal stopped, or the operator of the animal got distracted and turned loose of the rope, again the stories vary.  Whatever the mechanism, the propulsion stopped and the glider crashed.  The others ran up to the craft yelling for young Storrie.  He is reported to have replied, “You can’t talk to me, I’m dead.”
The area where the flights took place is now filled with the buildings of the TWU campus, and there is no marker noting the event.  That is unfortunate, but who at that time paid any attention to the antics of young lads.  It just wasn’t viewed as an historic event.  Now, in 2013, some of us think it was.

To be sure there is a lot more to this story, but space is limited and the saga is to be continued, at intervals shorter than a year, I promise.

By the way, the lads all grew up to be leaders and businessmen in the developing city that now has a population of over 100,000 and a very fine airport that is watched over, in part, by the Texas Pilots Association.



South Florida Flying

Banyan Accepts ACE Awards

At the recent “Achievements in Community Excellence (ACE) Awards”, Banyan teammates: Terry Schuler, Daniel Day, Les Bowser, Gary Johnson, Murray Zacharia, and Paul Wallis were recognized for operating safely on the Airport Movement area for the past ten years and Charles Amento, Rob Tuttle, Randall Klebon, and Kenneth Gibson were recognized for operating safely for five years. Don Campion and Shawn Mack accepted the awards on behalf of Banyan teammates that were unable to attend.

In addition, Jet Runway Café received the 2012 Special Recognition Award for outstanding service and contributions to the City of Fort Lauderdale, area businesses and the community.

In addition, Jet Runway Café received the 2012 Special Recognition Award for outstanding service and contributions to the City of Fort Lauderdale, area businesses and the community.  Photo individuals:

Scott Kohut, Airport Operations Supervisor, Vice Mayor Bruce G. Roberts, Don Campion, Banyan, Clara Bennett, Airport Manager, Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler, and Shawn Mack, Banyan Line Service Supervisor.


For more info on Banyan, go to http://www.banyanair.com/email/2013/fbo/jan13/jan13.html



The First Female CAF Pilot

The first female B-29 pilot in the history of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) was in the right seat of the cockpit when FIFI landed at Central Flying Service in Little Rock. Debbie King is not only the first woman to pilot the world’s last flying B-29, but also one of only three female pilots ever to fly the aircraft. Little Rock was the second stop on the

B-29’s five city fall tour in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Making the event even more special; the aircraft commander for the flight was her father, long time CAF pilot Tom Travis. Father and daughter, who both also fly the CAF B-24 Liberator, have shared a passion for aviation ever since Tom taught Debbie to fly years ago. When asked what emotions he feels as he shares his daughter’s latest accomplishment he said, “Heck, when I first met her she couldn’t even walk and look at her now! Besides pride, I feel very comfortable flying with her. We’ve flown together so much that we think alike and that makes it easier. She keeps me humble. Best copilot I ever flew with.”

Debbie is just one example of the Commemorative Air Force’s commitment to diversity among its members; although she dismisses any comments about gender when talking about flying airplanes. “It has taken a long time waiting in the wings and paying my dues as a pilot,” Debbie says. “The CAF has promoted a dramatic change in attitudes and opportunity over the last few years and I foresee a wonderful future for the coming generations.”

B-29/B-24 Squadron Operations Officer David Oliver has this to say about the squadron’s newest B-29 copilot, “Debbie is more qualified and has more hours than many of our male copilots. We absolutely needed to give her an opportunity to fly the airplanes. She has seniority in the organization and has spent many more volunteer hours than a lot of the pilots flying CAF airplanes today.”

CAF president Steve Brown is leading the effort to actively recruit a more diverse membership to the warbird community. “We must move on to that new generation and become more representative of America – men and women of different ethnicities and backgrounds,” says Brown. “We must have a better representation of the audiences we are talking to.”

Debbie will be the first to tell you this experience is not about her. Rather she wants to tell a story about the airplane and the generation of people who flew in them under much different circumstances than she does today. Debbie tells us what flying this airplane means to her, “My grandfather died in World War II and my great uncle, his brother, worked on them during the war as a mechanic.  My great uncle became my grandfather figure and I adored him. He was the epitome of the greatest generation; he came home from the horrors of war, raised a family and went on with his life.

“My Grandfather had just died and my great uncle was gearing up to move for the attack on Japan when the bombs were dropped. The B-29 represents a bit of salvation for my family.  It saved American lives and it has allowed me to connect a bit, I believe, with my grandfather and uncle — to see and touch what changed the course of their lives, of all of our lives.”

For more information about the CAF B-29/B24 Squadron visit www.cafb29b24.org. To learn more about the national CAF organization visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.

Tennessee Airport Manager of the Year: Jo Ann Speer

Tennessee Airport Manager of the Year: Jo Ann Speer

The 2012 Tennessee Airport manager of the year is Jo Ann Speer who is the manager of Everett-Stewart Airport in Union City, TN.  William B. Orellana, Director of Aeronautics made this presentation.

“The recipient of this year’s Airport Manager of the Year award is someone that has developed an ability to manage an airport operation at a high level in a relatively short period of time.  Since becoming an airport manager approximately five years ago the recipient has managed projects resulting in major expansion of their airport and has successfully managed the resulting change, growth and increase in operations that come with this type expansion.  In addition, this person is a strong proponent of aviation in the State of Tennessee as evident by participation in the Tennessee Aviation Association, the Aviation Hall of Fame, the support of the Civil Air Patrol, and involvement in the local Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations that are supportive of the local community.  Events are held at the airport to encourage both children and adults to become more familiar with an airport and to help the citizens to understand the positive influence an airport can have in attracting business opportunities and improving the local economy for a community.  This tireless effort and sacrifice has had very positive results at the airport and in the community.

The recipient of this year’s Excellence Award for Airport Manager of the Year is Jo Ann Speer, Everett-Stewart Regional Airport, Union City, Tennessee.”

Jo Ann is married to Kerry Speer who works for the Daily Messenger (The printer for FLY-LOW) in Union City. They own the Cessna 172 of which she is pictured in front.  She has been manager of the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport since July of 2007.  Jo Ann is a CFI, AGI, Commercial Pilot, Instrument Rated Single Engine Land pilot.  This is a list of the associtations to which she belongs:


Tennessee Aviation Association Executive Board

Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame Board  2008-2012

Obion County Board of Directors

Obion County Local Emergency Planning Committee

Northwest TN Rural Planning Organization Technical Committee

Obion County Adult Leadership Class 2011

Member Main Street, Obion County Chamber and Weakley County Chamber

Member of AOPA, The Ninety-Nines, Women In Aviation International,             NBAA, AAAE, Civil Air Patrol, FAASTeam Representative


When ask by FLY-LOW what she enjoyed the most, Jo Ann replied, “My husband and best friend Kerry and I reside in the Walnut Grove Community near Union City, TN.  We enjoy flying our 172 and many other outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing and kayaking and riding our 4wheelers.  We enjoy spending time with our grandchildren.  We volunteer to help raise awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and are Captains for “Jack’s Team” for the Great Strides Walk held in Weakley and Obion Counties.”


Reno National Championship Air Race: Tragic Crash of 2011

Reno 2012

The tragic crash at the 2011 Reno National Championship Air Race left all seriously doubting that this event would be able to continue.  It has been a year that has seen individuals step forward and never give up in their efforts to insure the continuation of America’s only Closed Course Air Race.  To let this event die would be allowing the virtual extinction of a time-honored sport.  President and CEO, Mike Houghton head the Reno Air Racing Association and all those who stood with him are due a tremendous debt of gratitude by all of aviation. Read more

The First Mid Eastern Regional Fly In Air Race

Ohio now has a sanctioned Sport Air Racing League event thanks to the efforts of Richard Kaczmarek.  Richard is a racer who flies a “fast little airplane” named “Slug”  “Slug” is a PA28-140, Cherokee and further proves that the Sport Air Racing League is for everyone.

This event took place in conjunction with the Mid Eastern Regional Fly-In.  Richard’s fine tuned organization and professionalism did not go unnoticed.  The FAA praised Richard and the racers.  The spectators at the Fly-In were a most enthusiastic audience.  Turn four of the race course was at the Neil Armstrong airport at Wapakoneta, Ohio.  The racers flew over on the day Neil Armstrong died.  As a remembrance of this great aviator and astronaut, the airport has asked that each year the race return.  Turn four is now a tradition.

League regulars came to race from Texas, Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas.  Local pilots now had easy access to becoming racers and many a now bona fide air racers.

Once you race, it gets in your blood.  Ron Mathis flew his Beech B55 Baron as a rookie at the Indy race two weeks earlier.  He was on the start line at Urbana and proved his impressive time at Indy was not pure luck.

League veterans added points in their quest for the 2012 Championships.  The experimental has three pilots making a serious run for the Gold and all were in Ohio.  Mike Smith in his SX-300 came from Mississippi, Gary Shelley in his FAST RV-8 from Texas and “Racer Bob” Axsom flew in from Arkansas in his RV-6A.

The first annual MERFI Air Race was a rousing success and will be on the 2013 schedule.

The Sport Air Racing League pilots make their mark at the Reno Championship Air Races.

It is Saturday September 8th and there are five Sport Air Racing League racers in the Sport Class hangar at Stead Field.   Their aircraft are about to be inspected and cleared to fly in the qualifying heats at the 2012 Reno Championship air races.

The Sport Class encompasses kit built aircraft and makes it possible for owners to race planes that are not necessarily special build race machines.

The Sport League racers included four Reno veterans and one rookie.  They were more than ready to fly after all passed inspection.  Undeniably the most excited was Alan Crawford from Lake Buchanan, Texas.  Alan is the 2011 Sport League Experimental Gold Champion and puts on the Hill Country Air Race.  He flies a Lancair Legacy L2K with a Bennett Special engine.  Alan is a Captain at Southwest Airlines and his crew member Bobby Bennett is a mechanic for Southwest.  Alan’s Lancair, the “Spirit of America” is the cover plane for the 2012 edition of Fly Fast magazine.  Alan qualified to race in Sport Silver and ran very consistent heats all week.  On race day he ran consistently and finished fourth.  At the awards banquet he was honored as Sport Class Rookie of the Year.

The lone representative of the League in Gold was Lynn Farnsworth from Roswell, GA.  Lynn flies a Lancair Legacy L2K named “Miss Karen II”.  She is the namesake of the F-100 Lynn flew in Vietnam.  Lynn is now retired from the air force and flying the airlines.  Lynn flew to third place in the Sport Class Gold posting 372.71.  Miss Karen II was the fastest Lancair Legacy at Reno.

The man with the perennial smile on his face, Ernie Sutter from The Woodlands, Texas never looked back and led Sport Silver all week.  Ernie is the most congenial competitor anywhere. After he won each of his heats he invited his crew to ride in the antique fire truck on his victory pass. Ernie is the organizer of the League sanctioned Cleveland (Texas) air race.   Ernie flies what he describes as his “out of the box” Lancair Legacy L2K, “Jus Passin’ Thru”.  They ran 292.11 in their final Silver race.

Mark Frederick from Taylor, Texas, builds and sells kits for the High Performance’s F1 Rocket.   His racing steed is “El Toro”, an F1 that is the final production version.  Powered by a 10-550 Mark posted times that moved him from Bronze to the Sport Silver division.  Mark was running very well and posting his best times ever when he had to declare a May Day at the start of Friday’s heat.  Mark landed safely but #12 was finished for the week.  Mark is a racer through and through and all knew how disappointed he was as not being able to continue to run.

Stead Field resident, “Super Bob” Mills flies the #43 Vans RV Super Six. Bob is a Captain for South West Airlines.  He is constantly improving his aircraft and loves to race.  Bob was totally elated over his performance and his second place finish in Sport Bronze.   He could not catch up to Rick Vandam and his Glasair IIS but he had to battle Peter Malone and his Radial Rocket all week for second.  There was some of the best racing and closest finishes to be seen in the Sport heats and races.

Many League members attended as crew for the racers.  Bobby and Ann Elise Bennett came from Texas to be part of team  “Spirit of America”.  Bob Mills convinced “Racer Bob” Axsom to fly in from Arkansas and work his magic on his plane.  Red Hamilton drove in to once again crew for a Formula 1 team.  Dave Adams flew  his Long EZ to the races and was a volunteer and when not doing that jumped in and crewed.  Many League racers came to watch and help and the Sport Class had a huge cheering section in the crew pit every time they flew.

It was unanimous.  The Reno Air Races are a must. There is nothing like it. There are the most amazing special build race planes on the planet to marvel at.  The little Formula 1 and Biplanes offer affordable racing.  The Sport class provides racing for many aircraft that are owner built and flown. The Sport Class had an RV-3 qualify to race.  It was the slowest qualifying time of the entire event but the owner and his crew member (his wife) were probably the most thrilled to be racing of anyone there.  David Casey from Friday Harbor, WA flew solid heats all week and raced hard posted 207mph.  There is something for everyone.  There are vendors and an air show and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational and the famous icons of aviation are there in abundance.  All who attended in 2012 intend to return and their stories have stirred many more League pilots to come out in 2013.