From Sand Point Don and I kept to the odd flight levels and turned our prop towards Montana. You wind your way through dense ridge lines of the Continental Divide following rivers and passes much like the early explorers. How they ever managed to pierce this huge wall of terrain was an amazing feat.
The scenery is so inspiring the crossing goes by quickly. Soaring east you quickly swap cloud piercing peaks for the descending plains of the ‘Big Hole’ country. These lands and water are the headwaters of the Missouri River. The Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson Rivers drain the lands of Yellowstone creating the link of waterways from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. The magnitude of our continent is so impressive from the 12,000′ flight level.
We made an overnight stop in Great Falls, MT.. When I read Lewis and Clarks expedition notes they were utterly blown away by the falls of the Missouri. They thought it was a huge fire/smoke from afar. I wanted to experience the sting and spray of water from its edge. Alas the Army Corp of Engineers got there first and brought the mighty river to heel. Sadly five dams have tamed the once magnificent falls of the Missouri River. What compensates for the lack of drama is a well done interpretive center detailing L&C’s entire route into the western wilderness. Also in town is a museum dedicated to Charlie Russell, one of the early artists of the west.
When you park at Great Falls airport be sure to stay at the Front Range FBO; Super nice people, courtesy car and good gas prices. There is also the added entertainment of the Montana Air National Guard and their F18s screaming across the skies.
Onto Bozeman we followed the trail of Lewis and Clark, winding our way up the Missouri River and its tributaries. You can’t help but ask, did the wonder, the amazement, the joy of scenery never before witnessed ease the burden of hauling canoes up river? Did they sink to their knees in the mud as the ropes bit into shoulder sinew? Did the mosquitoes attack with the same vengeance? Did the awe of the evening light slipping from mountain peaks soften the cost of the unknown? Truly what undaunted courage!
The Missouri River is one of the few waterways that flow north from their headwaters. When we were flying over Three Forks, Mt, where the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers converge to form the Missouri, I felt the thrill that explorers must have celebrated. Where rivers begin, knowledge flows.
Bozeman, MT has to be the most liberal town of Montana. Anywhere ranching is king you know there is a conservative bent in the politics. Yet Bozeman is blessed with a university, lively art and music venues, close to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and adventure capitol of Montana. Best of all was a congregation of women pilots from all over the world. How cool to sit and talk with a young 83 year old who is still flying. The spirit of these conventions is so “can do!” We enjoyed some really interesting speakers, cheered on 36 Amelia Earhart Scholarship winners, honored Kitty Houghton with the Award of Inspiration and bathed in the light of women who make the most of life.
During the business meeting I was corrected on my interpretation of the amendment I wrote to you about earlier. (Having to back pay dues if you want to be reinstated) What this amendment was referring to was if you wanted your ‘original’ initiation date on record, ( instead of when you rejoin after a lapse in membership); you would pay for the past years away. OR If you want to rejoin there is no penalty of arrears payment to restart your membership with a new start day. The rationale for this is that it’s important for some people to say they’ve been members for 20, 30,40 years or more.
The score card on the 4 Amendments were:
- Amend 1: Passed: reinstatement after lapsed membership (discussed above)
- Amend 2: Failed: Associate members being allowed to vote. Amendments need a 2/3 majority to pass. There were enough people voting who thought voting privileges should only go to licensed pilots, (not student pilots). I don’t agree with this. Our future Life blood of the organization are these women. We need to understand their concerns.
- Amend 3: Passed: Was just house cleaning on a statement regarding the AE Birthplace Museum
- Amend 4: Tabled: Was referred back to the BOD for clarification. This was about Life Membership
- Ratification of Standing Rules: passed: just a house cleaning change in verbiage
- Ratification of Standing Rules: Passed: Publication- If you want a directory you will have to pay for one and its shipping. All info is Online now so we don’t necessarily need directories. (I bought one any way)
July: 2014 99’s International meeting- New Orleans!!!
Bon Temps Roulez!
We then had an hour of reports of all the committees which you can also access online.
Besides all the fun of flying and gathering with friends, the meeting once again restores my commitment to our organization and our goals of promoting women in aviation. It really is an inspiration!
After 4 days in Montana it was time to find home. I had left CA back in April and felt the pull of the hearth. Lift off was crisp, early Sunday morning, as I climbed to 12.5 to navigate the Continental Divide once again. The fun of mountain flying isn’t just the sights but the navigation around peak and cloud, the flurry of virga on your wing, the “where are we?” and all the WOW factors. Five hours and 17 minutes later, multiple mountain ranges, geography changes, wx systems, vast plains and the wealth of the west we were home again. What a joy to call this gorgeous piece of the west home!