By Keith Caulton, EAA 40276, Chapter 251 Secretary
Holloman Air Force Base’s Legacy of Liberty Air Show in New Mexico was first announced in January 2022. At our January meeting, it was suggested that our chapter, EAA Chapter 251, man a booth at the air show. Some discussion followed and it was decided that Keith Caulton, EAA 40276, would approach the Holloman public affairs office about getting space in a hangar where we could have a booth and room to display an ultralight. Although we didn’t get confirmed space it was decided to proceed making preparations for the show.
Cindy Holder, EAA 1227229, volunteered to design a display and create materials for recruiting and information on Young Eagles, our chapter, and EAA in general. Money was allotted for Cindy to buy a canopy, two banners, table runners, and informational brochures. While we waited for the ordered materials to arrive, Will Stigers, EAA 312942, and John Klump, EAA 1179123, jumped in to help Cindy with preparing the brochures on the activities of the chapter.
At our April meeting Keith reported that we would have space in a hangar, although the dimensions were still unknown. The owner of the ultralight we originally planned to use said it would not be available, and Keith began a search for a small experimental aircraft that could be displayed in limited space. Cindy showed us the banners, table runners, and canopy and at that point Ralph Ketter, EAA 89445, realized there was a problem. The banners are 10 feet long and we had an 8′ x 8′ canopy. In short order, Ralph designed a frame to support the banners that would not only keep the banners straight, but would allow the banners to be raised from just below canopy height to completely above the canopy. Ralph and Pete Aschenbrenner, EAA 9001111, assembled and tested the canopy with banner supports in Will’s hangar. The next week Ralph, Pete, and Maurice Morgan did a final test that incorporated minor corrections.
In the meantime Keith Southard, EAA 668985, of Chapter 555 had contacted us and said he would be willing to display his Helicycle. Set-up day was May 6 for the air show that would be held on May 7-8. The display went up very quickly since Pete, John, and Maurice had previous experience at assembly. On Saturday and Sunday, the New Mexico winds were really strong — sometimes over 35 mph — and blowing straight through the hangar. Because of that, the banners were set up at the lowest level. We had a steady flow of visitors except when the Thunderbirds were flying. During the show, nine members manned the booth at various times. The display was attractive enough to draw the attention of Col. “Trax” Keeney, the 49th Wing commander, who spent about 15 minutes with us. Kids were given information on our next Young Eagles event and those from outside our area were shown how to sign up online for events closer to their homes. We had recruiting material for our chapter available for adults and we signed up one new member. That doesn’t sound like much, but Alamogordo is a fairly small town in the desert, and spectators were drawn from as far away as El Paso, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and even Phoenix. One big lesson we learned here is that parents really started to listen when we talked about scholarships. Women in Aviation had a booth across the aisle from us and several times we would direct people to their booth or they would send people to us. Overall, we were able to showcase EAA and its activities to several thousand people, and we considered the event a major success