Written by Bruce Vinal
Over the Memorial Day weekend I had the good fortune of being invited out to Murphy’s Landing Strip in Upstate New York for a formation clinic. The event was hosted by Dave, Lois, and Mark Murphy owner/operators of the Mustang “Never Miss” and afforded me a glimpse inside the hangars of an aviator’s Nirvana. Most people who know of the Murphys are familiar with “Never Miss” and maybe even the pair of T 6’s but when you roll open the hangar doors, the depth of the families passion for aviation is unmistakable.
Turning off the main road and onto the driveway you are at the start of runway 25, a well maintained 4,000’ turf strip. Perched on top of a knoll with a control tower overlooking the runway is an otherwise modest home. Parked beside the house is a US Military surplus M1078 LMTV awaiting its next mission and at the end of the driveway stands a tall flagpole with the Stars and Stripes proudly waving. At this point the driveway becomes a taxiway leading to a complex of four hangars guarded by a military surplus Humvee and a vintage USMC M-37.
Though I never made it into all the hangars I did make it far enough to see an eclectic collection of aircraft all meticulously maintained.T-6’s, the Mustang, Christen Eagle, Grumman G 164 AgCat, Meyers OTW, and a Piper L-4 Cub that has taught two generations of Murphys to fly. The collection isn’t limited to fixed wing aircraft, both Dave and Mark hold their rotor craft licenses, so why not throw in a Bell 47 and a Robinson R 44.
Our master of ceremonies was “She’s The Boss” pilot Charlie Lynch. Leaving the “Family station wagon” Grumman TBM at home Charlie flew out in the Yak 52, and his lovely wife Elizabeth followed up with the kids by car. Charlie led the briefing as pilots from The Raiders Demo Team, Yak Attack Airshows, Texas Flying Legends and others came to hone their skills and update certifications. The training area was The Great Sacandaga Lake and would be cut up into quadrants. Safety was a priority and training areas 1-4 were given their own brief to alert pilots to unique safety concerns and delineate boundaries to keep flight groups from inadvertently sharing airspace.
While the main group training was the “Yak Attack” team with Yak 52’s and CJ’s a flight of four T 6’s took part as well. The weather was clear, albeit a bit turbulent, and made for some spectacular views and great A2A opportunities with the two groups. On Saturday afternoon, with the last training flight of the day recovered, it was time to have some fun. Mark pulled the Meyers OTW and Grumman AgCat out of the hangar and gave anyone with their tail dragger endorsement a chance to buzz the patch. Later that evening we pulled out the Mustang for a photo shoot over the lake with Steve Beal in an L39. Steve was on hand to help Mark get type rated in the Albatross and in return Mark helped Steve with his check ride in the P51.
Overall the weekend was a huge success, thank you to the entire Murphy Family for opening their home and making us all feel like a part of the family. Look for Mark and “Never Miss “on the airshow circuit and be sure to thank him and his dad Dave for taking on the job of caretakers to these magnificent links to our past.
All photographs copyright 2015 Bruce Vinal/ Aerial Perspectives