Friday, November 4, 2011 | Smithville Times
Driving down Hwy 71 late Saturday morning, I noticed a couple of small signs announcing a Fly-In at the Smithville airport. Always curious about stuff happening in and around Smithville, I pulled in at the airport entrance across from Smith’s Supply and at first thought I’d missed what I assumed had been a pancake breakfast. On chatting with a couple of the folks standing around, including the ever present Adena Lewis (whom I’ve manage to run into at every event taking place in the surrounding 50 miles) I discovered I’d stumbled into a poker rally put on to benefit our local Volunteer Fire Department.
Smithville airport was acting as the terminus for “The First Responders Poker Run” which had started in San Marcos earlier in the morning. The combined rally was entered by members of of both the EAA (say what?) and the Texas Cobra Club formed by owners of some of the legendary Shelby Cobras sports cars. So, you ask, what in tar-nation is the EAA? The letters stand for the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 187, based in Austin. All in all, nine cars and eight planes ended up arriving in Smithville around noon on Saturday to enjoy a sit- down dinner of hamburgers and sausages donated by J-Bar-B Foods from Waelder and the V and V Sausage Company out of Cistern.
The rules were explained to me by my friend Ken Peck, a pilot himself who lives close by me in the Smithville West subdivision. The drivers and pilots navigate a five-destination course. At each of the locations, in this instance, San Marcos, Austin Executive airport, Lochart Municipal and Giddings-Lee County Airport they receive a playing card. The owner of the best hand at the last stop (in this case Smithville Airstrip) wins first prize. In this case a dual first prize.
The rally was organized by Rick Mays and Anthony Plattsmier as a kind of spur-of-the moment event over the last few weeks in recognition of the incredible job they witnessed the volunteer firefighters. The pair got to see what was happening on the ground as they flew over and through last months conflagration photographing, which included images of the air support provided by the planes and helicopters. At Smithville Crawford Municipal, Sandy Meyerson provided the support and organization.
The prizes were truly stupendous and were geared to either the drivers or pilots who paid 25 bucks each to enter the run. First prize for the pilot with the best poker hand was 100 gallons of aviation fuel. At the current price of about 5.25 a gallon that’s some deal for Pete Christiansen, the winner. The 1st prize won by Cobra owner Steve Klestinec was tickets for a flight in a B-17 Flying Fortress out of Georgetown.
In addition there were a plethora of other prizes ranging from an Avionics certification inspection, and flights in a T6 military trainer to a weekend for two complete with meals at the Elm Street Inn in Bastrop. Titos Handmade Vodka was also in evidence as were many other prizes to the other less fortunate folks. I think everyone ended up with a prize of some sort.