Did you know that on a recent Tuesday at the Hale County Airport in Plainview, Texas, a company called Pelota Aviation flew in from Jacksonville, Florida, for fuel, then flew to San Diego in an Epic LT propjet? The people of Plainview—all 21,860 of them—know that and more.
Since the 1940s, the Plainview Daily Herald has carried a regular column called “Plane Talk,” if there’s room, on the comings and goings at the local airport. When flying was new that was big news, and, surprisingly, that is still big news today, despite the dramatic slump in general aviation that hit about 1979.
“If we don’t have it because there isn’t room, we’ll get calls,” said Plainview Daily Herald News Editor Homer Marquez.
When Jim Clark sent his Gulfstream V to Plainview to bring his family to Palm Beach, Florida, for a family celebration, all of Plainview knew. When Bell Helicopter sends the V-22 Osprey to Plainview for practice landings, Plainville knows. If television personality Dr. Phil passes through, as did then-Gov. George H.W. Bush, KISS co-lead singer Gene Simmons (real name Chaim Witz), and Nascar star Bill Elliott or Dale Earnhardt Jr., Plainview knows. The late Jimmy Dean of entertainment and sausage fame used the airport and was from Plainview.
The current author of the column is Gary McCormick of Rocket Aviation at the airport. In the old days, McCormick said, the list of visitors and activities had to be typed and sent downtown to the newspaper. The Plainview Daily Herald is located on, according to a Google Earth photo, a brick street next to an old vaudeville and movie theater called the Granada that is in restoration. Its interior was designed to remind people of Spain and featured stars and clouds reflected on the ceiling.
The town is halfway between Amarillo and Lubbock, but more importantly, halfway between a lot of big cities—a midpoint where smaller business jets need fuel. He keeps detailed records on visitors, but also consults another list with a dozen names on it. “I have a list of people who don’t want their names in the newspaper,” he said.