Crescent City Ringmasters club members were able to resume
their flying in April of 2006, eight months after Hurricane Katrina -- and
hurricane recovery workers -- devastated their flying field in City Park.
At left, club members prepare a Flite Streak for its first flight. At right,
Roland Babin starts his Stuka stunt plane, with Allan Perrett holding. All
photos by Tony Atzenhoffer.
The Crescent City Ringmasters was formed in the 1950's and in it's heyday
had as many as 100 active members. It was derived from the New Orleans Aero
Club and was later formed as the Raving Cajuns. The Ringmasters sponsored
many class AA contests in the 1960's. George Cleveland was a member when
he won Combat events in 1979. Andrew Stokey frequents the National Contest
and has acted as a recorder for the stunt contest for eight years.
These photos show the secluded nature of the flying circles.
Left photo: Andrew Stokey, Allan Perrett and Mike Griffin test run a plane.
Right photo: Member Don Gozney visits with AMA official Bill Fulmer in the
shaded area alongside the circles.
Our Field is located in the rear of City Park sandwiched between a golf
course and a nature walk. The Field has been maintained by the club for
these last many years at no expense to the Park Commission. We have burned
out about three riding lawnmowers in the process of keeping the grass manicured.
Before Hurricane Katrina, we usually gathered on a Sunday and swapped ideas
(and lies) about our favorite model. The last few years the field has been
used by two dog training clubs, one of them being the New Orleans Police
Department. They usually met on Sunday morning and left when we showed up
to fly. They loved the fact that our area was completely enclosed and private.
It also helped us by being out of sight of the main administration of the
FEMA workers who staged on the flying field after the hurricane
left it a mess of rubble which club members and other volunteers had to
clean up. Here, the center pad from the 70-foot circle is lifted off the
60-foot circle, where FEMA workers had moved it.
The whole City Park's 1,300 acres went under water and stayed there for
over two weeks. Judging by the marks on the trees and our fence there was
water between 4 to 6 feet high over the entire park. FEMA groups moved in
to our area as soon as the ground was dry enough to drive on. They parked
their heavy equipment on our field and began clearing out the dead trees
and brush in the Park and the area around the park. I was able to visit
the field about seven weeks after the hurricane and was amazed that the
area was not that bad. Of course the shrubs and trees were all dead and
the FEMA workers were busy clearing the dead brush out of the area using
machetes and power saws, clearing the area.
I spoke to the supervisor of the crews working and he assured me that
the area would be cleared and brought back to the original shape it was
in before the hurricane. I went for another visit about six weeks later
the crew was gone and the field was complete rubble. They
started using the center of our 70 foot circle as a loading area with bobcat's
and large Dumpsters. They even moved the center cement slab and put it on
the 60 foot circle.
We then contacted the Park Commissioners about the condition and asked
for their help in contacting FEMA and to see what they could do to help
us. There were a lot of volunteer groups who were trying to help by planting
new trees. They planted almost 1,000 trees in the general area of the field
and nature trail. The club started to show up on weekends mostly clearing
the sticks and rubble left by the FEMA workers.
During the Month of March, we were able to get one cement circle cleared
and in shape to fly. We got the grass cut and scheduled our first Fly/Work
party on April 23rd. We spent the first hours clearing rubble and then got
down to some serious flying. We are now receiving great cooperation from
the Park Commission. They are trying to get some volunteer groups to help
us with the 70 foot cement circle. We have applied to the AMA Katrina Fund
and received a $500.00 grant which we hope to use to buy river sand to level
and seed the field with new grass. We still have a long way to go to be
at the level that we were before Katrina but our spirit is high and we are
going to continue to work (and fly) until it gets there.
We are also starting to talk up the club and try to get new members.
The flying session for May 7th had to be canceled because when we arrived
at the field we found a tree had fallen blocking the road. The park promised
to clear the tree and did it in less that one week. Flying resumed on May
21. Photo at left shows what it's all about: Mike Griffin flying his Flite
In left photo, Roland Babin prepares one of his planes;
at, a closer view of Roland's Stuka.
This page was upated June