It’s been awhile since that last Starfighter adventure to Port Clinton and Put-In-Bay (read the post HERE). But the planets recently aligned for another perfect day. “Name three places you’d like to fly today,” John said when we woke up. Hmm... a picnic at Highland County? Kelley’s Island camping? Cleveland...? Cleveland. I'd never spent any real time in Cleveland. The forecast showed some weather coming in from the south later in the day, but it all looked good in the north.
I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of Cleveland before — I don’t think I realized that Burke Field — the executive airport — was so close to the city, never mind pretty much IN the city, and right on the lake. While John took care of flight planning, I figured out what we could do when we got there. There were the usual suspects: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, the aquarium. But I don’t know, I guess I didn’t want to spend the entire day indoors. I remembered a blog post written by Kaylah Doolan of The Dainty Squid. A Clevelander, she wrote a “faves” post about the city which I bookmarked. Maybe there were a few spots we could get to easily enough without a car.
We folded up the scooters, fueled up the plane, and off we went.
The lake was sooo blue, and I loved seeing the city from the air. What a view!
The base-to-final approach was so stinkin' cool.
We fueled up, checked in at the FBO, and unfolded our transportation (the Razor A5... HIGHLY recommended for portable travel as they fold up small and speed along much faster than the scooters with smaller wheels.) Ready...set...go!
Well, sort of. We didn’t get very far because the International Women’s Air and Space Museum was right on the field. Had to check that out. The exhibits were great. Could I please have this jacket?
I didn’t know this, but in 1911, Harriet Quimby became the first woman to earn a pilot’s license. Also the first woman to fly the English Channel and also, sadly, the first woman to perish in a flying accident.
The museum had a couple early flight simulators! Can someone pleeease make a real plane that looks just like this little blue guy??!! How cute is that!? (It even comes with outdoor seating!)
The history of these things is so interesting. Their inventor, Edwin Link, was learning to fly but found training to be somewhat cost-prohibitive. So he did what anyone else would do, obviously: he made his own simulator which operated off an organ bellows (as in, church organ) from his family's factory. In 1934 the Army Air Corps ordered a bunch of them to aid in instrument training and pretty soon, Link trainers were everywhere. The one in my photo is the later GAT-1 model.
The IWASM is making efforts to grow and establish itself, so I highly recommend a visit! As a fly-in destination, it's perfect, and they’ve got a lineup of great events in the works. I was so bummed that I was going to miss the “Dress up Like Amelia” wine night, but I hope to get involved up there.
It was definitely time for lunch, so we scooted over to Townhall, near the Cleveland Clinic. What a fabulous spot! Everything from smoothies to sandwiches to creative entrees. We shared a rice bowl, wanting to leave room for ice cream at Mitchell’s down the street, but when we saw the dessert menu -- holy cow! -- I rarely want EVERYthing on a dessert menu, but Townhall’s was sooo tempting!
Mitchell’s did not disappoint. We’ve got Graeter’s and Jeni’s in Columbus, but Mitchell’s seemed like something in between. Creamy gourmet flavors but also down-home standards. I’m usually a straight vanilla with sprinkles kind of girl, but I tried a sample of the lavender honey and was blown away. What a great building too: skylights and huge curved beams. And a birds-eye view of the magical-ice-cream-making down below!
We thought we’d try a different route back to the lake, and while trying to figure out how to get to the bridge we needed, we came across this mural. Cleveland seems to have a lot of great stuff painted on walls in places you don’t expect.
Finally found the bridge, but it was tucked down underneath all these other bridges. And where did all these hills come from?! Cleveland looks so flat from the air. It’s a ruse.
While scooting back along the lake, we passed the Steamship William G. Mather (everyone seems to call it the Cleveland Cliffs boat) that’s always in the harbor. Turns out it’s part of the science museum. It looked so tiny from the sky but giant up close! We decided to take the tour. I don’t know why these huge freighters fascinate me so much. I think it’s because they’re SO big. The ship was built in 1925 and was the "flagship of the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company fleet until 1952." The Mather mostly carried iron ore from Lake Superior down to the steel mills of the lower lakes.
Walking through the crew and guest quarters was like stepping back in time. I felt like a ghost from the future. We were the only ones aboard by the end of the day too.
It was still hot at 5pm. By the time we left the ship (basically a giant solar oven) I was wilting. It was time to get back to the airport anyway. (... via a short stop on the lawn of the R&R Hall of Fame.)
I SO enjoyed my first real visit to Cleveland, although I felt like we hadn’t explored much of the city. True, it hadn’t been the plan to wind up in two museums, but I'm so glad we did, and there will be plenty of next times. Cheers, Cleveland! See you again soon!