The Green Hornet succeeds in its mission to educate the nonflying public.
As summer turned to fall, pilots Field Morey and Conrad Teitell were in the air a lot—not just to enjoy the crisp air or changing leaves that many enjoy during such a picturesque time of year, but with a bigger mission: to raise public awareness about smaller municipal airports.
The pair had embarked on a self-designed challenge to visit every state capital in the lower 48 states and Alaska in just two weeks. Their journey, named the Capital Air Tour, began in Morey's home state of Oregon.
A consummate teacher
Learning and aviation have been intertwined for Field Morey for almost forever. Racking up numerous awards along the way, Morey has been a CFI for 53 years and has logged over 23,000 hours of instruction. The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame, where Morey was inducted in 2004, deemed him a "consummate teacher of pilots."
Part of what earned Morey distinction in the area of pilot training stems from the flight training program he designed in the 1960s. A pair of pilots and Morey would embark on a weeklong intensive training trip from Middleton, Wis. (C29) to the West Coast and back. This pilot/observer method accelerated learning and Morey guided the pilots' decision-making through real weather scenarios.
Today, Morey continues to train pilots through Morey's West Coast Adventures based in Medford, Ore. Since that first trip back in 1966, he's completed over 400 adventures with more than 800 pilots.
Training in actual IFR is more sophisticated today than 50 years ago, but the main principle behind the instruction—to allow students to learn from him and from each other while logging flight time in real weather—is unchanged.
The day of our meeting, Morey was a full four days into the Capital Air Tour, yet he looked as energized as if he'd been on his first stop of the trek. In between the banter with others, he dropped a few wise words in my direction. One example: "That's what flying is all about—judgment," Morey told me as we talked in the maintenance hangar on Sept. 19, 2014.
Conrad Teitell, Morey's copilot, agreed. Teitell, an attorney and private pilot, was once Morey's student and called him "the best flight instructor on the planet." Morey and Teitell have flown together in Alaska, across the Rocky Mountains and down the West Coast, as well as for their latest project, the Capital Air Tour.
Morey Airplane Co.
"I've been flying all my life," Field told me—and he's not exaggerating. His father, Howard Morey, was one of the original barnstormers with Wiley Post and once flew with Charles Lindbergh.
Howard Morey founded Morey Airplane Co. over 80 years ago. Today it's Middleton Municipal-Morey Field, and the full-service FBO is in its third generation of family management. Field Morey had taken over the role from his father, and now Field's son, Rich Morey, is manager.
It was a veritable family reunion the day I met the group. Several family members, as well as longtime A&Ps, CFIs and other staff were happy to see Field Morey return "home," even if only for one evening. While we visited, the aircraft was serviced by Morey Airplane Co.'s director of maintenance Al Barger and A&P Tony Colin.
The Cessna TTx is the fastest single engine fixed-gear production aircraft in its class. The "Green Hornet," as Morey has nicknamed his 2013 model, has a max cruise of 235 knots and that's what allowed for the pair's ambitious flight plan.
"I've flown almost all that Cessna has made; I started with 120s," Teitell recalled. "A grass strip, no flaps, no radio; the 150, 152, 172, 182, 182RG, 206, 210... those are all wonderful planes, but the TTx is extraordinary."
"Airline pilots—the smaller regional pilots—have been looking at the panel and saying, 'Hey we don't even have some of this stuff!'" Teitell told me with a smile.
The Green Hornet's G2000 flight deck includes the latest autopilot technology, NEXRAD, anti-ice equipment, and terrain and traffic avoidance devices. And it also has exceptional speed brakes, which the pair relied on in Alaska.
Even a veteran like Morey had to admit that the Alaska weather during the Capital Air Tour was very challenging. Departing on Sept. 17, visibility was at minimums from Juneau to Ketchikan. Morey and Teitell had to hold at 9,100 feet and then descend to sea level with just 200 feet visibility.
The descent was made at speeds of 2,000 fpm (!) and as Teitell listened to Morey recount the still-fresh event, he asked his flying partner, "So, is that when the sticker blew off?"
The sticker Teitell was referring to was a state flag decal, a little bit of old-fashioned ceremony brought into the 21st century during the tour. After landing at every capital while traversing the 12,000 miles of the trek, Morey would place a sticker on both doors of the TTx. Sure enough, there was one missing.
Surprises along the way
A veteran pilot—any pilot, really—will ideally want to keep the surprises to a minimum, or at least keep them on the ground. Except for one brief delay due to a database revision, the TTx performed beyond everyone's expectations. But there were still surprises on the trip.
"What [has been] unexpected for me was the reception at the FBOs," said Morey. "There are so many wonderful FBOs [still operating], and that's encouraging to me—that they're still providing the services that we provide [at Morey Airplane Co.]."
"The 'mom-and-pop' FBOs are really interesting," Teitell explained. "They'll give you a crew car even if you don't buy fuel!"
Morey and Teitell were interviewed by newspapers—including one particularly charming story by Sherry Lucas of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.—and several television stations in Bismarck, N.D., Albany, N.Y., and elsewhere.
Due to the aggressive schedule, the pair didn't take long meal breaks, but they did have lunch at Ohio State (KOSU) and at Sacramento (KSAC), their 49th and final stop. In the air, they existed mainly on bananas and granola bars, with the copilot serving in the role of in-flight hospitality.
Both Morey and Teitell enjoyed the company along the way—their own, and that of the public they encountered. When Morey explained what they were doing to the server at a waffle house in Montgomery, Ala., her reaction—"Well, well, well, ain't that somethin'?"—became the slogan for their trip.
Education and outreach
Throughout their 58 stops Morey and Teitell answered questions, distributed information supplied by AOPA about the value of local reliever airports and were greeted by dignitaries like UNC-Chapel Hill professor and Nobel Prize winner Oliver Smithies (also a former student of Field Morey's), city mayors and other public officials.
The pair was being followed by students in classrooms as well. Teachers used the Capital Air Tour flights as a tool for geography lessons as well as STEM concepts like time and distance. The Capital Air Tour flew with a Spot GEN3 GPS that relayed real-time position information to a map on Morey's website, and position information was updated every five minutes when the aircraft was in flight.
When the tour made its stop in Wichita, Morey met with Cessna engineers. "A party of half a dozen engineers and sales managers [met us on the field]," he recalled. "They were really interested in what I thought, which indicated to me their interest in the single engine market."
"I had very few suggestions," Morey said. However, he did recommend the engineers talk to the people that service this model for their input. "[The engineers] could pay more attention to how this aircraft is put together and taken apart," he explained. "For example, the cowling is extremely difficult to remove and replace compared to a 182."
How did Morey and Teitell reach 49 capitals in 14 days? With a fast and reliable IFR-equipped airplane, good old-fashioned dedication and with the assistance of a public relations agency devoted to General Aviation.
"We are so pleased that we were able to participate in this adventure," said Julie Pimentel, lead on the Capital Air Tour project with Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design.
"In Medford, I was in contact all day with the FBO manager to be sure they would have a proper welcome," Pimentel explained. Upon completion of the Capital Air Tour, Morey and Teitell received a water arch salute at Rogue Valley (KMFR).
Dan Pimentel, who handled the social media campaign for the tour, said, "Field and Conrad did exactly what I say all pilots need to do at every opportunity... speak positively to the nonflying public about all the good things that General Aviation brings to their communities."
"Each pilot needs to be a flying advocate, and with the Capital Air Tour, these two pilots raised the bar very high, showing the rest of us how it's done."
Couldn't have been better
When I phoned Field Morey a few weeks after the tour ended, he was just as enthusiastic as that mid-September day in Middleton. "First of all," he told me, "[the tour] ranked right up there with the Atlantic Crossing in 1980, which was the highlight of my flying," he told me.
"The airplane was awesome," said Morey. "I had some apprehensions about weather; about how the aircraft would perform," he confessed. "But there was none of that—the weather couldn't have been better." Eighty percent of the time, he estimated, the pair experienced tailwinds.
"I credit it [to flying in] the month of September, probably the best month for flying. Also, the hurricanes just didn't appear," Morey said.
"It was nice because we had planned it for 14 days, 77 hours, and it took 76 hours," Teitell said. Altitude averaged 12,000 feet, but did reach FL 18—and at the Grand Canyon, the TTx flew at 15,000 feet. Throughout the tour, speeds were better than calculated and the itinerary required only minimal revision.
"It was an extraordinary experience," Teitell said. "My head is still up in the clouds!"
Heather Skumatz is managing editor
for Cessna Flyer. Send questions or
comments to .
Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame inductees Field Morey and Howard Morey, wisconsinaviationhalloffame.org/hof.htm.
"Forward in Flight: The History of Aviation in Wisconsin," by Michael J. Goc. Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. New Past Press, Inc., 1998.
Capital Air Tour
Morey's West Coast Adventures
Water Salute Homecoming video
"Pilots on a capital jaunt of
49 states in two weeks"
by Sherry Lucas, The Clarion-Ledger
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