A youth group will be cooking up
rib-eye sandwiches until 1 p.m.
Afternoon highlights are:
--A car show (started at 11 a.m.)
--Children's games from 5 to 7 p.m.
--Fried chicken dinner of potato salad,
green beans, applesauce, marinated cucumber salad, dinner roll and
drink served from 5 to 8 p.m.
--Mount Pulaski cheerleaders performing
at 5:30 p.m.
--Area cloggers dancing at 6 p.m.
The evening will close with a street
dance featuring the band The Twang Gang from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The winner of the 50-50 $1,000 drawing
will be announced at 9 p.m. Only 200 chances are being sold.
events, food stands and entertainment will be downtown on the main
street of Elkhart. Games and inflatable rides will be free to
The ice cream social will be held from
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Middletown Park. The public is invited to
join the fun at the park pavillion. Lawn chairs are advised.
Music by the Possum Holler Pickers
---2:30 p.m. Randy Conklen sharing his hot-air ballooning experience
---3 p.m. The Hutchison Family musical group
Ice cream, cake or pie and coffee or
iced tea will be available for $3.50, pop is $.50. Proceeds will be
used to buy storage units for maps, oversized books, artifacts,
quilts, etc. at the Knapp Library/Museum.
The Knapp/Chestnut/Becker Historical
Society, Inc. will host the Randy Conklen family with their hot air
balloon, Sunkissed. The Conklen crew consist of Randy, his wife Mary
and their children, Robin and Reid. Both Randy and Reid can pilot
the balloon. The balloon is co-owned with two other families, Jim
Phelan and Bob Green.
Sunkissed is made of ripstop nylon and carries a wicker basket that
will hold three passengers in addition to the pilot. If weather
permits the balloon will be inflated for viewing at the south end of
the park. Crew members will be on hand to answer questions.
Conklen’s interest in ballooning began about four years ago. He was
inspired by friends and members of the team, he says.
Randy is the son of Irwin and Lila (Hawes) Conklen, New Holland and
the grandson of Edgar and Beulah (Wendell) Conklen, deceased.
aviation history began on December 17, 1903 with the Wright brothers
flight of “the Flyer” at Kitty Hawk, NC, Middletown was not long to
follow in establishing some of it’s own aviation history.
On October 9, 1911 the pilot of the first transcontinental flight
across America, Cal Rogers ran out of fuel and landed his plane in
Henry Hinck’s field on the east side of Middletown. Roger’s was
flying the “Vin Fiz”. It was named for a soft drink.
The flight was sponsored by Armour & Co. The Armour entourage was
following as closely as possible by train. Roger’s was on a leg of
the flight from Chicago to Peoria to Springfield.
The “Vin Fiz” flight across America was completed on December 10
when Roger’s landed in California. The flight took in 84 days.
The infamous Charles Lindbergh, who flew “the Spirit of St. Louis”
across the Atlantic Ocean for the first non-stop solo flight, often
flew over Middletown. From 1926 – 1927 Lindbergh flew the mail route
from St. Louis to Chicago via a route following the train tracks
west of Middletown.
[An aerial picture of the Sunkissed balloon.]
Raymond Estill remembers a stormy night in May 1927 when Lindbergh
came to his home for help.
Perhaps most significant at putting Middletown in the aviation
history books was the landing of the Flying Light Bulb, a hot air
balloon piloted by John Petrehn (pronounced pete run) of Overland,
Kansas. Petrehn landed on the north edge of town on January 18,
1984. Temperatures hovered around 20 degrees below zero as he
attempted to break distance and endurance records.
Petrehn began the flight that he had been planning for two years, in
Huron, South Dakota. When he landed in Middletown he broke five
world hot-air balloon records. Those records were recorded by the
National Aeronautic Assoc., Washington, D.C. and the Federation of
Aeronautical Internationale, Paris, France.
Petrehn’s actual focus of his record breaking 1984 flight was to
raise money for the American Cancer Society. He and his wife Jackie
had lost one of their 11 children to cancer.
Today, six of the Petrehn children, including their one daughter,
In 1986 Middletown ranked third in the world among “cities” with the
largest number of world aviation records (Ballooning, the Balloon
Federation of America, winter 1986). It was the only city in the
world where five world aviation records by a hot-air balloon were
set in one flight.
Some side notes:
Petrehn flew over the Conklen home on the New Holland-Middletown
blacktop when he was breaking his five world records. Having met
them since that time his widow spoke highly of the Randy Conklen
team when she was at last year’s Yesterday’s Tomorrows.
The first heavier-than-air machine flight by Orville and Wilber
Wright lasted only 12 seconds. It was witnessed by only five people.
Three newspapers attended and even their hometown, Dayton, Ohio
paper ignored the event.