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25 Years Ago – Winter 1991

Ol’ Paint

By Vince Tidwell
President
Miata Club of America

I did an irresponsible thing the other night. No, nothing that I would regret the rest of my days, but the kind of act resulting from a poor decision that everyone makes at least once in their lifetime. I was fortunate in that the outcome was as planned, but it caused me to ponder and discard the editorial that was intended for this issue for what you are reading now.

I usually require at least 24 contiguous hours of tranquility to compile an editorial (hey, I majored in engineering and business, not English). In an effort to find that solitude, I decided to travel to a relative’s cabin high in the Tennessee hills, adjacent to the Smoky Mountain National Park near Gatlinburg. It was early November and the probability of any inclement weather at that time of year which could impede my arrival was slim to none – or so I thought.

Wrong – it snowed. I left the club’s office late in the evening and with excellent local road conditions, knowing that there might be scattered snow flurries near my destination. I congratulated myself for taking a generally lower altitude route and topping of the gas tank full of dinosaur juice. Even though it was a slightly different route than I usually take, it appeared to be the same distance, and I had arrived easily on one tank before.

Wrong again – I ran low on fuel well before I planned. There must be a law against gas stations being open past 9:00 PM in Tennessee. Either that or these good or boys figure that anyone with a lick o’ sense ought not be a drivin’ here late at night. Nonetheless, I was determined to get to the chalet and heat up some of the home-made Brunswick stew and country ham (no caviar dreams and champagne wishes for me, thank you) for what would inevitably be a midnight snack. Press on, Vince ol’ boy.

A sign read “Gatlinburg 18 miles”. My fuel gauge then read WELL BELOW the empty mark tick. Average speed on the road ahead of me was 30 mph (great curves) at best, even when dry. My rear tires were showing their wear bar indicators, but I decided to continue. Oh yes, it was 12:30 AM and I had not seen a car for the last ten

minutes. I knew I wouldn’t seee any on the park road (no facilities or residences) I was about to enter either. Once in, there would be no turning back.

“Shouldn’t I stop and do something?”, I silently asked myself. “Why should I risk running out of gas 15 miles down the road in some pitch-black dark remote mountain hollow with only Cherokee Indian spirits and bears to converse with?” I still can’t answer that question. Maybe I’ve seen too many NIKE ads saying “just do it”.

I was ten miles deep into the park when I had to stop and gaze at a wonderment of nature. There was untrodden snow on the road and a thick two inches on the branches above. Absolute silence as well. Eery – very eery. The illumination provided by my megawatt halogen headlights caused a tunnel-like path. Maybe experiencing that was worth the risk. I turned my headlights off to see just how dark it was and quickly concluded that, “I shouldn’t be here – not now and not in these conditions.” Besides, I just knew there was some black bear bigger than the Miata out there that wanted my stew more than I did. Perhaps I should have put the hard top on before I left after all.

It was literally down hill from there as I put the 5-speed into neutral to conserve fuel. “Remarkable,” I spoke out loud to console myself. “This road has been so full of tourists at times that traffic often comes to a standstill”. Thankfully, no one answered.

Finally, I spotted some lights of civilization and once again the Miata’s fuel gauge fooled me. (The next day I filled the tank finding 1/2 of a gallon to spare – equating to another 15 miles.) Through judicious driving and reduction of the air pressure in the tires for better adhesion in the snow, I made it to the chalet without having to share my stew with Smoky.

I pulled my Miata into the garage at the cabin and, as I still often do, even after two years, went down to the garage to look at it before going to bed. This time was different, though. Instead of listening to it cool after a hot track session or admiring a recent wax job, I leaned against it like a cowboy would have leaned against his horse after crossing a high mountain pass. “A good horse delivers his master from his, own foolishness” is what clearly came to mind.

Copyright 1991, Miata Magazine. Reprinted without permission.

Flying Christmas Tree

I’ve edited out everything but the flying part, the whole thing can be seen here.

What happens when Josh takes the Flite Test crew to search for the perfect Christmas tree? National Lampoon’s Flite Test Family Christmas.

Interested in airplanes, helicopters, drones, FPV, RC or all of the above? Check out more Flite Test here and GET FLYING: http://flitetest.com/ Special thanks to Miller’s Christmas Tree Farm for letting us come film on their property. Check them out here: http://goo.gl/E7R7wV

South Carolina Breakfast Club

As there’s no B’fast scheduled this month, I’d like to invite (as much as it’s my place to) everyone to attend a b’fast on Sunday, December the 18th. The South Carolina Breakfast Club was created in 1938 when three airplanes flew from Winnsboro to Orangeburg to meet others for b’fast. That began the worlds largest flying club, continuing since, except for a short time during WWII when fuel was rationed. This is scheduled every two-weeks at an airport, somewhere in the state of SC, or it’s adjoining states. Attendance will depend on weather, as most will fly in and I’ve seen over a hundred aircraft on the field. Pilots come from all over and you never know what you’ll see.

The current President, Gerald Ballard of Ballard Truck and Tire on Gordon Highway, has a hanger (with 9 airplanes on my last count) on the Twin Lakes airport in Trenton, SC, and holds the Christmas b’fast in the hanger. Cost will vary, but usually is $7 each (cash only) for a southern b’fast of eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, biscuit and coffee – sometimes fruit, juice or other, and is served in-line.

Toys for Tots is usually collected if you want to bring something (optional).

The address is 151 Cessna Dr., Trenton, SC, 29847 (GPS 33.646986 N by 81.861758 W). From I-20 at exit 11, take Bettis Academy Road, north for three miles, turn left onto Ballard Drive and look for the large hanger on the right (there’ll be lots of cars), and follow others into the hanger. For those that have attended our b’fast at the Airport Grill, it’s just before that location. Serving time is 9 AM and the line will form beforehand. Around 10:30 (or when everyone is served), Gerald will begin his welcome and stories of just about anything, offer a gift to the one that flew the farthest to and more.

They also hold a raffle, that for a $1 ticket, the winner gets the cash pot. In my 30+ yeas of attending, I’ve held the number before and the number after; but never the winning number. Dress is casual. Rita and I have attended many pf these in our years of flying, and as I sold my airplane last year, plan to drive to this one. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

http://www.flyscbc.com/

AMP wire

The AMP wire on my 2010 Miata died this weekend. the dealership quoted a new wire at $1,000. anyone know of a used parts outlet? thanks, Bill

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I know it isn’t officially winter just yet, we’ve got about 10 days to go, but the recent colder temperatures has sure made it feel like it is already. So it got me looking at the Winter 1991 Miata Magazine looking for what I might use for the real 25 Years Ago post coming up.

On the back page of every Miata Magazine since the first one has been an ad for an official Miata Club of America charge card. Pictured on the card was beautiful Mariner Blue car that was just like the car Donna and I owned. I was tempted to get it just for that reason, but never did. There still is an application form right there, I wonder if I filled it out and mailed it in would they approve me?