Monday, July 6, 2015

Motoring Monday's: Old Fashioned Soda Fountains

There are still 37 functioning soda fountains in operation in Kansas. The custom of ordering a soda fountain drink was named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Customs in 2012.

The Potwin Drug Store in Topeka has the oldest operating fountain in the state. It’s been in operation since 1902 in the Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site. The 1950’s Stanley Knight soda fountain at The Old Store in Johnson, located in the far southwest corner of the state, is in an original 1920 oak back bar. A U-shaped bar with Formica counter built in 1968 can be found at the Irwin Potter Drug store in Anthony, and they specialize in freshly-squeezed cherry limeades. The back bar in the 13-stool fountain at Ray’s Pharmacy in Quinter dates back to 1904 and there’s even a brass rail to rest your feet.

Take a step back in time, order a drink and enjoy. To learn more about all the soda fountains in Kansas, check out the Kansas Sampler webpage here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Officials calling for record travel numbers this weekend

Nationally AAA is projecting that 41.9 million Americans will travel during the long holiday weekend, which will be the most since 2007, and 84.7 percent of them will be driving. Contributing to the anticipated big numbers is the fact that gasoline is about 25 percent lower than last year, said Jim Hanni, of  AAA of Kansas.  

The increase of cars on the road and the fact that many people will be attending events with alcohol make 4th of July one of the deadliest days to be traveling.

As travelers take to the highways throughout the holiday weekend there are steps they can take to make it to their destination safely,” Highway Patrol Lt. Adam Winters said. “Any time you ride in a vehicle, buckle up and make sure children are in the appropriate child safety seats. For those planning to drink over the weekend, designate your sober driver before you celebrate. We want people to enjoy the festivities, but we want them to be safe doing so.”  

Please be safe on the roads this weekend and have a happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Keys to keeping your car running in extreme heat

We all know extreme heat can take its toll on people and pets, but have you considered the effect it can have on your vehicles? Before you head out on your next summer adventure, take a few minutes to make sure your vehicle is ready to beat the heat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and AAA recommend checking these 5 key areas:


Make sure the battery is securely mounted in place and all clamps are tightly secured. Remove any corrosive buildup from terminals and connections, and consider having it tested if it is more than 3 years old.


Keep coolant levels topped off at all times and flush and replace your coolant periodically as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Never remove a radiator cap when the engine is hot! Boiling coolant under pressure can cause serious burns.


Check all tires (including the spare) for proper inflation. Underinflated tires can cause blowouts! Also check treads for wear using the penny test. Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of his head, your vehicle needs new tires.


Just like us, cars need fluids to keep from overheating. Periodically check all vehicle fluids to make sure they’re filled to appropriate levels. Any signs of leakage should be addressed. Failure do so may lead you to costly repairs or, worse yet, stranded along the side of the road.

Air conditioning

Stay cool with a properly operating A/C system. Not only will it keep you comfortable, but it will help reduce driver fatigue and keep you more alert. If your A/C isn’t beating the heat have it checked by a certified technician. Also check cabin filters to ensure maximum airflow and cooling.

And, as always, make sure you and your passengers are buckled up before hitting the road!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Traveling Tuesday: Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure

With more than 100 species of wildlife at home on 65 acres of land, the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure located six miles west of Salina has many animals in their natural environments to see. Get an up-close look at a white camel, an Indian rhino, a snow leopard, a giant anteater, a white throated capuchin and more.

In the early 1980s, a large barn was built for several Belgian horses, the beginnings of Rolling Hills Ranch. Later, more animals were added and tours were requested, which expanded the zoo to what it is today. A wildlife museum opened in 2005 to expand the educational message and feature animals not found in the zoo.

Monday, June 29, 2015

KDOT Aviation Director reports on her experience at the Air Race Classic

KDOT Aviation Director Tiffany Brown (right) and her teammate Taylor Humphrey pose in the plane they used in the Air Race Classic.

I think it’s rare to go into an experience knowing that two weeks of your life will be a once in a lifetime experience. The personal and financial sacrifices it took to make the race happen for Taylor and I will be hard to replicate but we both agreed we left the finish line with no regrets.

An aerial view of the Mississippi River.
The race started on Monday, June 22 when groups of 5 airplanes would be signaled to start their engines together and taxi to the starting line one behind the other. There were over 50 teams so the time between each engine start was long enough that I was able to watch about the first 20 before getting in my airplane. Hearing so many engines roar all at once gave me goosebumps. One by one we would make our radio calls onto the runway. Aviation radio calls have a simple structure: where you are, who you are, what you are doing, where you are. The race started at Stafford Regional Airport in Fredericksburg, Virginia and when our turn came we made our first race call. “Stafford, Classic Racer 45, line up and wait Runway 15, Stafford.” We proceeded onto the runway and waited for the flag drop. As it dropped we went full throttle and made our departure call, “Stafford, Classic Racer 45, on the roll Runway 15, Stafford.” The Cessna we flew has traffic awareness in the cockpit that visually and audibly warns the pilot of nearby traffic to assist in preventing mid-air collisions. As we departed our screen lit up with targets, “Traffic, 3 o’clock, high” then “Traffic, 1 o’clock, low” our heads were on swivels as we were approached and passed or were passed by other racers. The first leg was the busiest and the traffic naturally spread out after our first stop and fly-by.

Each race leg is timed individually and to stop the clock a racer would do a “fly-by” at 200 feet above the ground at a selected airport. These fly-bys would make or break your race score. If you did anything wrong a racer would be penalized anywhere from 4 to 10 knots. Penalties came from missing one of your required radio calls, to forgetting to turn on your landing lights, or flying the fly-by to high or low or in the wrong corridor. Our team encountered one penalty during the race for missing a radio call on the first of the nine stops and we flew the rest of the fly-bys perfectly.

My co-pilot, Taylor, and I would switch off legs. At each leg we would do a fly-by and then circle to land, refuel, check the weather, eat something, and then takeoff again.  The pilot in left seat was responsible for flying the airplane or managing the autopilot and the pilot in right seat was responsible for everything else. Weather is such an integral part of flying and was the basis of all of our decisions to continue on or to stay at a stop and wait. In-between Lawrenceville, Ill., and Kirksville, Mo., we took a chance on the weather. A storm was approaching Kirksville that we would not want to fly into but the leg from Kirksville to Union City, Tenn., had killer tailwinds we wanted to fly in. A tailwind is when the wind is moving in the same direction as the airplane and a headwind is when the wind is moving in the opposite direction of the airplane. The difference between a headwind and a tailwind dramatically increases or decreases the ground speed of the airplane and plays a huge part in our score. Think of it as trying to swim upstream versus trying to swim downstream. We were one of two airplanes that took the chance on beating the storm and made our plan B to land off route if the storm beats us. Plan B would have completely taken us out of the race but no guts, no glory so we pressed on. The turnaround in Kirksville was the fastest turnaround of all our stops. It was luck that Kirksville prides themselves on their speed of refueling planes. There was no delay and while the other planes were on the ground waiting for the storm to pass we were making our departure fly-by to make it to the next leg. Taking that chance paid off and that leg was our highest scoring leg in the race.

The rest of the race was relatively uneventful. The leg to the finish line in Fairhope, Alabama was riddled with isolated thunderstorms. The thunderstorms popped up on both sides of us as we were about 20 miles out of Fairhope and closed up behind us. As they closed up they caused about 6 racers to have to divert and fly into the airport from the south instead of the most direct route from the north. We concluded that we had gotten lucky and were relieved to be done. In three days we spent 20 hours in a cockpit side by side. Taylor was the youngest racer to fly the race this year and she did a phenomenal job. Taylor has an uncanny ability to stay calm under stress, which is a great trait to have in someone sitting next to you.

Our team ended up placing 42nd in a field of 55 registered racers. We ended up with a technical penalty for unreported maintenance to the airplane that resulted in a 5-knot penalty on every leg. While the technical penalty killed our score we were both extremely pleased with how we flew the race and both think we did the best we could have done.

We both came home with 40 hours of flight time in conditions and terrain completely unfamiliar to us and landed as better pilots than when we took off. At the end of the race we kept getting asked what’s next. So what is next? Taylor will finish her summer working on her instrument rating so she can fly in the instrument conditions I described in my first blog (June 23). She will start college in the fall at Southwestern University in Winfield with plans to join the Air Force after college. I will continue working on my flight instructor rating so I can start to pass down all of the knowledge I’ve worked so hard to gain. It’s humbling to think for two weeks we spent time in the ranks of the modern-day Amelia Earharts. These are woman with the same adventurous spirit she had when she and a group of woman started the air race in 1929. It was a life changing experience filled with contacts and friendships we will keep for a lifetime.