There are occasions when you have an idea for something that you want to do, get a bit of a start on it and then it falls by the wayside for a long time. Such was the case with heading to Poplar Grove. I had read something about this airfield not far from Rockford IL and thought I should check it out. I made contact with the owner of the field and he said I was welcome to visit any time. After that, somehow I got distracted from this and didn’t follow up. Not only a failing on my part but also rather rude! Not the impression I would normally expect to give someone I hope – other than my friends and family who know my true nature of course!
Despite all of this, Poplar Grove came back into my mind recently. I am looking at the Oshkosh Ski plane fly in later this month and a group from Poplar Grove are regular attendees when the conditions allow. I made contact with them about possibly working together if the weather allows the fly in to go ahead. This reminded me of my previous failings to do anything after my previous contact.
This time, I decided to be a bit more cautious. Rather than contact some people and then fail to follow through, I decided to take advantage of the continuing pleasant weather and make a trip up. The Sunday weather forecast looked very promising and a weekend is more likely to have activity for light aircraft. I got on the road early and headed up to the field.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t appear on my GPS. However, a little check on Google Maps was enough to point me to where I needed to set the destination and I got there without any trouble. A couple of aircraft departed as I pulled into the lot which always inspires a bit of confidence. Initially I decided to just hang out in the lot and see what was going on. Standing around with a 500mm lens tends to start a few conversations and this was no exception.
One guy stopped by to ask if I had got any pictures of his son who was learning to fly and had been up while I was stood there. Another couple of people said Hi! as they passed by and another guy stopped for a longer chat. He pointed out that the field was a friendly place and, if I knew how to stay out of trouble on an airfield, it would be fine to take a walk to some other spots.
I followed his advice and headed off. The layout of the field is very cool. There is one hard runway and two grass strips. One of the grass strips and the hard runway were both in operation. There were many hangars (apparently about 450 aircraft are based on the field) and there are also some houses with taxiway access. I want to move!
Standing near one taxiway I got a good view of the aircraft movements. As people taxied by I would get friendly waves which I reciprocated. What a nice place. The chap I had talked to previously drove up and we ended up talking for a while. His name is Steve Langdon and he is involved with the EAA chapter that I had been talking to as mentioned earlier on! He told me about the many different and interesting aircraft that people operate or are working on at the field. This was reinforced by the arrival of one T-34 and the departure of another – one that obviously knew where I was!
By lunchtime, I really needed to be heading back to Chicago so started to walk back to the car. I passed an open hangar with a beautiful Beech 18 sitting in it. This belongs to the owners of the field and, having now been back in touch with them, I hope to get a chance to photograph this aircraft at some point. I suspect there are plenty of other aircraft on the field that I will want to shoot as well. This place is a treasure trove.