Trick or Treat Poker Run 2009
Chris Moorman, Greg Turner, and other members of the Liberty Lions Club rose early last Saturday morning to begin cooking sausage and pancakes in the dark. On a Texas-sized griddle loaned by Mike McCarty, the Liberty Lions cooked breakfast for several hours, feeding over a hundred people who came out to the Liberty Municipal Airport for the start of the 2009 Trick or Treat Poker Run.
They came in Cessnas and Pipers, a Mooney, and aerobatic airplanes such as the SIAI Marchetti, an F-1 Rocket and several Van’s RVs – kit-built airplanes – some with a passenger or two. One airplane hauled a family of four. Participants in the family-friendly event were children from as young as 19 months to senior citizens in their 80’s, and some even brought along the family dog. They came from Pearland, Sugar Land, Kingwood, Baytown, Houston, Conroe, and all around the Houston area.
Taking advantage of the fun flying activity, the Liberty-Dayton Are Chamber of Commerce, Liberty Lions Club, Liberty High School Band Boosters, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, and several area businesses were on hand to welcome visitors to Liberty and showcase our friendly community.
Ames City Secretary Lillie Bernard, Liberty Mayor Carl Pickett and council members Frank Jordan and Dennis Beasley welcomed pilots and their passengers who flew in from about a 100 mile radius of the airport. The Chamber of Commerce members handed out goody bags, consisting of coupons, fliers, brochures, samples and other promotional items.
The energetic Sherry Mettlen, of Carol Bond Health Foods, welcomed guests as they ate pancakes in the hangar. John Hebert and his crew used their trucks to transport tables and chairs provided by First Liberty National Bank, which allowed for a perfect hangar party, and the shuttle van and driver provided by Liberty-Dayton Chrysler saved some folks a lot of walking. BJ Ford employees showcased a new duly truck and used it to help shuttle pilots who parked on the opposite side of the runway. Stuart Marcus, manager of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, also helped shuttle pilots back to their airplanes for the start of the event.
After FLNB’s Brian Reynolds gave a welcome message he introduced veteran flight instructor and aviation legend Maybelle Fletcher. The retired owner of the longest running flight school in Texas, Mrs. Fletcher gave the pilot briefing and all the rules of the game, reminding pilots to communicate and fly safely. During her briefing she commented that she had never seen such a great turn-out of community as she saw here in Liberty, and declared the start of the event a great success.
After the briefing, aviators and their passengers were handed their first card in a sealed envelope, and a set of challenging questions to answer along the route. From Liberty, participants flew to Sholes Field in Galveston, where they shut down their engines, disembarked, and drew the next poker card and challenge questions in sealed envelopes. Then it was on to the Brazoria County airport in Angleton, the privately owned West Houston airport, and collecting the last poker card at Williams Airport in Porter, where a delicious BBQ lunch and home made desserts were available.
When it was all said and done the airplane count stood at 30, with 67 people participating in the flying, and many more on the ground. The Liberty Lions Club gained exposure for their organization, which benefits families in a variety of ways. Funds go toward College scholarships, Boy Scouts of America Troop 56, Texas Lions Camp for children, Eye Bank of Texas, Children’s Protective Services, the Liberty Municipal Library, Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, and local school programs
The Ninety-Nines collected entry fees for the poker hands, and that money will go toward scholarships sponsored by the Ninety-Nines International, including Able Flight, an organization dedicated to flight training for people with disabilities.
Liberty-Dayton Chamber Director, Mary Anne Campbell, brought her son and daughter along to help. Mary Anne was the winning bidder at the Chamber’s “500” auction for tickets to the air show, Wings Over Houston, and the family was looking forward to attending the air show on Sunday. Meanwhile, daughter Andrea, who has a few hours of flight training herself, snagged a ride in the Poker Run with Dayton pilot Charles Sisk, owner of Sisk Rifles, a custom rifle builder. The pair enjoyed the day of flying so much that after the BBQ lunch in Porter they continued on flying the rest of the afternoon.
Area businesses and public officials seemed pleased with the turn-out. The event was so well attended that organizers eventually had to park some of the airplanes on the opposite side of the runway, on the east ramp, where airport expansion is planned in the future.
At the finish line, pilots eagerly asked organizers how soon there would be another event like this.
The event was sponsored by the Houston Chapter Ninety-Nines, an international women pilot organization formed to foster camaraderie among women in aviation and to provide scholarships and support the future of aviation through education and community involvement.