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It's been a couple of years since our last trip to a Grumman convention. This year's gathering was so close to home that it could have been a day trip – Glens Falls, New York, 132 nautical miles from home base.


Last October, the Northeast Region AYA held a fly-in to the same airport, to check out the airport and try the convention hotel for lunch.

After Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field was closed, Glens Falls named its airport for Bennett, who grew up in this area. He was the pilot who flew Admiral Byrd from Spitsbergen to the North Pole and back in May 1926. This feat earned both men the Medal of Honor, which is extremely unusual in peacetime. Bennett is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. This photo hangs in the terminal building.

The convention hotel was the Queensbury in downtown Glens Falls. In their lobby hangs a large painting of Cooper's cave, which is nearby. This cave inspired James Fenimore Cooper while he was writing The Last of the Mohicans. These days, you can't get inside the cave, but you can get close enough for a good look.

Between the Hotel and Cooper's Cave, you walk past a stairway to nowhere.

Each September, Glens Falls is home to the largest balloon gathering east of the Mississippi. The organizers are recognized by a monument in Shepard Park, in nearby Lake George Village.


Ni Thomas, Jörg Trauboth, and Peter Ruwe flew one of our club Tigers to the convention. Saturday morning before the convention, they busied themselves with packing and preparing the plane. Most of the attention seemed to be spent on setting up the two portable GPS units. Finally, they were ready for engine start, with Jörg taking the first leg.

Ni brought his customary flying companion. The bird acquired a playmate and a new family before leaving Glens Falls this year.

The shots at right were taken Saturday. The convention didn't even start until Monday afternoon, and there was already a good group gathered in the Grumman parking area. But it turned out to be a fairly small gathering - about 90 Grummans, and 165 people. The tall man at right in the second photo is Marshall Stevens, the airport manager. When the boss comes out to help the line crew, you know it's a good sign. Everybody at the airport and FBO went out of their way to make the convention a roaring success.

It's official, now. Roscoe has arrived.

Barbara and I flew to the convention a day after the previous photos were shot. We examined the convention city and the airport from the air. Hudson Falls is in the foreground, Glens Falls in the background. The airport shows a slightly expanded flight line compared to the previous photo. In the first photo, it would be slightly off-screen to the right.

Rather than the convention hotel, we chose to stay in Lake George Village, where we could easily walk to the resort town in the evening. Here are aerial views of Lake George and the Village, about seven miles from the convention airport.

By Tuesday morning, the flight line had expanded to over six dozen airplanes. So far, all Grummans - in contrast to some previous conventions when a few rogues sneaked in.
If you'd like to see a larger version of this picture, it's here. Bigger yet, send me email.

Stars and Stripes are a popular motif. Here are some examples from this year's flight line.

Our President brought his usual travelling companion.



A nice two-place belonging to Steve Roberts.

One of the flying events was a Geological Air Rally. Although weather postponed the flight by one day, the preparatory seminar was on schedule. Yale University's Dr. Leo Hickey explained how the area near the convention site was formed, roughly 400 million years ago. Our good fortune in getting a speaker of this caliber had a lot to do with the special influence of one of our convention chairmen.


One of the off-airport convention activities was a tour of Ft. William Henry in Lake George Village, a few minutes' bus ride from the convention hotel. Lake George was a vital transportation link in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Lake Champlain drains into the St. Lawrence River, giving access to Toronto, Montreal, and the once-fertile fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. The Hudson River gives access to New York and the main shipping routes of the Atlantic. Lake George connected Lake Champlain with the Hudson River by short portages at its north end, near Ft. Ticonderoga, and its south end, near Ft. William Henry (today's Lake George Village). In the 19th century, the portages were replaced with canals.

Fort William Henry was the site of an important siege in the French and Indian War (for European readers, that's the Seven Years War, which lasted nine years). The French General Montcalm took command of this site in August 1757, driving the English to evacuate to Fort Edward on the Hudson River. The restoration that we toured was built on the footprint of the original fort, and the tour predictably focusses on how life was lived there before Montcalm took over.

We learned how to load and fire a long gun and a cannon, and how to make musket balls.

Many died here, and most of the bodies were not identified. When the site was re-created in 1953, the remains of several unknown soldiers were relocated a few hundred yards to a new cemetery at the fort.

The dungeon was a surprisingly refreshing place to visit. It was a hot day, and this place was one floor down from the surface.



Near the dungeon, there is a model of its guard station.


That evening, there was an ice cream social mixer...

... followed by the general business meeting.

`

Lake George is a popular resort. Although we were there in "shoulder season," there was already plenty of activity in town.

The Mohawk called the lake "Horicon," which is now the name of a town in the vicinity. In 1646, Father Isaac Jogues was the first white man to see the lake. He called it "Lac du St. Sacrement," which is now the name of the largest tour boat on the lake. The modern name honors King George II of England. The lake is 32 miles long, with over 159 miles of shoreline and 179 islands. It is three miles across at its widest point, and reaches a depth of 187 feet.

Isaac Jogues was born in Orléans, France, in 1607. He was sent to New France, where he was captured by the Mohawk, along with Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and several converted Huron Indians. They were tortured; the Indians ate or burned several of Father Jogues's fingers and his thumbs because they believed he would then be unable to summon his spirit protectors. He lived as a slave among the Mohawk for some time, but finally escaped and made his way back to France. Pope Urban VIII granted him special permission to perform the Mass with his mutilated hands.
Optimistically, he returned to the Mohawk, but they regarded him as a sorcerer, and after a series of crop failures they clubbed him to death and cut off his head. Goupil and Jean de Lalande, his ambassador, suffered the same fate.
Considered a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church, Father Jogues was canonized in 1930. This memorial stands in Lake George Battlefield Park, adjacent to Ft. William Henry.

Near the Information Center, there's a scale map (1 foot = 1 mile) of the lake itself.

The village has the usual tourist traps.



It also has some pretty lakeside parks. The first photo is from the October fly-in. The scene is slightly different in June.

The paddlewheeler Minne-Ha-Ha cruises every couple of hours. While passengers are boarding, its calliope plays. Loudly. Maybe they get customers by promising to stop the music when they have enough paying passengers.

Here's a view of the village waterfront. For a closer look (wide photo!), click this link.



There are things to see and do in Glens Falls, too. The area was important because this is the upstream limit of the Hudson River's navigability. In the 19th Century, it was also the last stop for tourists setting off into the Adirondack wilderness.

Glens Falls is home to the Hyde Collection, a significant art museum that owns several Renaissance masters. These are displayed in the Hyde Mansion, which is worth a visit even if you don't go to the city for any other reason. The sculpture outside is A Dancing Family (1970), a bronze by Milton Hebald.

There is also the Chapman Historical Museum, in the house of Z.I. DeLong. This house is available for guided tours only, a recommended thing to do. The house is maintained as it would have been in the late 19th to early 20th Century. The stuffed birds are under glass because arsenic was used in the process.

Glens Falls (the falls) must have been very beautiful before the dam was built. The rock is Glens Falls Limestone, a hard black rock that resists the wearing action of water. But the dam is why the city grew. It harnesses the Hudson River to power the mills that were the city's industrial base.
The present dam is the most recent in a series of dams at this site since the 1700s. The first settlers established mills here in the 1760s. At first, there were lumber mills and gristmills. Then, in the 1800s came the stone sawmills and the factories. All of these industries ran their machinery by water power. Toward the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th Century, paper mills and generating plants on both sides of the Hudson have used this water power to make electricity.


Lake George Battlefield Park is next to Ft. William Henry. It's used mainly as a tranquil site for picnics and other family gatherings. There are a few monuments and signs, but very little to remind visitors that this was the site of two bloody skirmishes in September 1755, ending in the first significant English win against the French regulars in the American theatre of the Seven Years War.

This war is known in American history as the French and Indian War. Most of the Iroquois nation was allied with the French, but the Mohawk and Mohican sided with the English. Sir William Johnson and the Mohawk chief, King Hendrick, reached the southern shore of Lac du St. Sacrement in August 1755 and began work on a fort there. They had a force of about 1500 men. Johnson promptly renamed the lake for his King, George II, and named the fort William Henry for two of the King's grandsons.

On the French side, Baron von Dieskau had learned of Johnson's presence in the area. He assembled 3500 troops and started marching to confront the English. Dieskau, believing the English to have only a small force at Ft. Edward, sent only a small number of his men to attack. When he learned the truth, he retreated to revise his strategy. But by now, Johnson had learned of Dieskau's presence, and sent 1000 English and 200 Mohawks to reinforce the British at Ft. Edward. They were led by King Hendrick and Col. Ephraim Williams.

By now, Dieskau had returned with a much larger army. The British miscalculated the location of Dieskau's troops, and were caught in an ambush. During this battle, called the Bloody Morning Scout, King Hendrick was killed and Col. Williams was mortally wounded, shot in the head after his horse was shot from under him.

Col. Williams had a practical view of the dangers facing a professional soldier. He wrote a will a few weeks before this battle, leaving his estate for the founding and support of a "free school in the township west of Fort Massachusetts," on condition that the governor would rename the place Williamstown. This was done, and Williams College was eventually chartered there in 1793. This monument is on the spot where Williams fell in battle, but the obelisk is not original. This replica was placed by the trustees of Williams College when they removed the original to their campus in 2005.

To the memory of
Col. Ephraim Williams
A native of Newton, Mass. who
after gallantly defending the frontiers
of his native state
served under Gen. Johnson against
the French and Indians
and nobly fell near this spot
in the bloody conflict of Sept. 8, 1755
in the 42 year of his age.

After the ambush, the British retreated north to the lake. Johnson dispatched Lt. Col. Edward Cole with 300 men to aid Williams. Meanwhile, the French marched directly into the center of the British position. In the heated battled that followed, the now-ready English mowed down the French with cannon and other field artillery. Johnson was shot in the leg during this battle.

The first engagement of the Battle of Lake George occurred about three miles south of the lake. The second engagement was much closer to the lake, on the site of today's Battlefield Park. Here the French advance was stopped, and Dieskau was shot three times. He was taken to a cot in Johnson's own tent, where the English general treated his enemy with complete courtesy, according to the custom of military officers in 1755. Johnson even brought Dieskau to his home in Albany to convalesce. Dieskau eventually died from the effects of his wounds, but it was several years later and it was in France.

Later that day, about 300 colonial troops on their way to reinforce the British garrison happened on a group of French and Indians, and killed most of them in a short, heated battle. Estimates of the French and Indian dead in this skirmish range from 500 to 800. Their bodies rolled into this pond, or were thrown there by the colonials, turning its water red - hence its name, Bloody Pond. The site is not maintained, but there is a historical marker nearby. There is talk in Lake George Village about a project to dredge the pond, to recover soldiers' remains and artifacts from the battle.

Fort George was a few hundred yards from Ft. William Henry. One of its walls is fairly well preserved, and the general outline of the fort can be made out. It was destroyed in 1777. The path is between Forts George and William Henry.

Sir William Johnson survived the war, living until 1774. This monument was erected in 1903 by the Society of Colonial Wars, commemorating Johnson and King Hendrick. Although the Battle of Lake George is not as well known as the Battle of Ft. William Henry (Cooper didn't write a book about it), the earlier battle was important: as the first major English victory, it was a turning point in the French and Indian War.

Near the Johnson and Hendrick Monument in the Battlefield Park.

A memorial to four
UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
who fell September 8, 1755
on the Bloody Morning Scout
led by Col. Ephraim Williams and King Hendrick
against the French and Indians under Baron Dieskau
The remains were disinterred
in building a state highway in 1931
and reburied under this monument


This statue of a Mohawk drinking from a spring is also in the Battlefield Park, although it doesn't have much to do with the Battle of Lake George. It's called by several names, including The Mohawk Indian and Indian Fountain. It was sculpted by A. Phimister Proctor, "Sculptor in Buckskin," in 1920. The model is Big Beaver, a Blackfoot who drove from Montana to California to pose for this and two other statues. A plaque near the statue quotes the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the seventh generation."


One morning, we had breakfast in Warrensburg, already mentioned as the boyhood home of Floyd Bennett. We were on our way northwest to the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves.

The trail head at the Stone Bridge is a little over-decorated. There's an area for kids, where they can rinse dirt in a sluice to look for gems. It's guarded by a mannequin called Silas Miner, with no apology to George Eliot. They also display some minerals that were definitely not found here, including a one-ton geode from Brazil and a petrified log whose origin was not identified.

Trees grow from cracks in the rocks here. This one has a root that is useful as a hand-grip on one of the steeper parts of the trail.

There are a few waterfalls near the Stone Bridge. There's a larger version of this picture here.

This cave has a small waterfall inside. It's called Noisy Cave for good reason.



Noisy Cave, inside looking out.

This window, Peter Pan's Peephole, gives another view of the stream in Noisy Cave.

This is the park's namesake, the Natural Stone Bridge. 180 feet wide, 62 feet high.


This formation might look like George Washington, facing right.

There are potholes here, too. We saw potholes on another trip, two years ago - in the very different environment of the southeast Utah desert.

A short walk down the river takes us to a formation called the Oyster Shell (third photo, at right). There's a larger photo of the Oyster Shell here.



From the Stone Bridge, we went to North River to visit the Barton Garnet Mine. This is the world's largest garnet mine. If you have ever used garnet sandpaper, you've used Barton garnet. After we followed her down into the mine, our guide gave a brief lecture about its history, and told us what to look for.

Then we had about half an hour to gather samples.

This finished slab would make an impressive table top for a very large conference room.

We didn't take anything nearly so large as these boulders. Ours were fist-size or smaller.


Two views from inside the mine.


Here are two of the more unusual houses we saw on the way to and from the garnet mine. The first one caught my eye because of the "sculpture" in the front yard. It was directly across the road from a beautiful stretch of the Hudson River.

In this part of the state, the Hudson River looks quite different from our usual view of it. This area is in the heart of Adirondack Park. Comprising six million acres, the park contains the largest wilderness area in the eastern United States. It is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone. As a state park, it is unique in its mix of land ownership. Nearly half is state-owned forest preserve, and the remainder is mostly private. It is home to approximately 130,000 people. The major components of the park's economy are tourism, forestry, agriculture, and mining.


We spent Wednesday at the airport, partly as volunteers to help measure the distances for the spot landing contest. After we got the landing zone set up and marked off, we joined the briefings by Ron Levy, Walt Porter, and Ronnie Mowery.


The planes took off in groups of four. Three circuits each - two passes for flour bombing, then a full stop at the spot landing mark. Well, in the vicinity of the spot landing mark.


Since we were judging landings, there wasn't much for us to do while the contestants were taking off. Here are a few of them.

Both of these planes did land safely. Yes, there are two planes in this picture. Find the landing light above and to the right of the larger image, and you'll also find an airplane there.

We didn't have to wait long to learn the results. Lunch followed shortly after the contests, ...

... and presentation of the awards followed directly after lunch.

Thomas Micke won the spot landing contest, having touched down only four feet from the line.

Doug Weir scored a grand slam. He won three awards for his Tiger: Best 1970s, Best Avionics Suite, and Best in Show.

Roscoe and Luann passed out the door prizes. Being in a tent, we had no door, but that's just a technicality.


That evening, we enjoyed a dinner cruise aboard the Adirondac's sister ship, Horicon.

Dinner was prime rib and conversation. Both were excellent. Our cabin was advertised as air-conditioned, but something wasn't working right. The crew admonished us to close the windows, but it was much cooler outside than in. It didn't take long before a quiet mutiny got fresh air circulating through open windows.

During and after our meal, we cruised among Lake George's 179 islands.


Pilot Knob had been bought by a developer, who started building on top of it. The resulting eyesore could be seen from almost anywhere on the southern end of Lake George. After a while, a conservancy group acquired the property and dismantled the development, leaving this bald promontory.

Even the chairmen got to relax a bit.

We got another look at Minne-Ha-Ha.

Our cruise lasted almost until sunset. With the horizon below the hilltops, we still had magnificent scenery at twilight.




When we got back, we found out who the harbormaster really is.


We started one day in Bolton Landing, a quiet lakeside town about ten miles north of Lake George Village.

The Bolton Landing Veterans' Memorial is clearly modelled on Washington's Vietnam Wall, but it honors local veterans of all American wars.

Up Yonda Farm is an environmental center near Bolton Landing, a local essay in ecotourism. It is also home to the fanciest bird feeder around. They have a trail system that leads through the woods to the top of a hill, where the hiker is rewarded with a stunning view of The Narrows of Lake George.

They gather maple sap via plastic tubing, much of which ends up at this sugar house.

There's an enclosed butterfly house that doesn't really need such a prominent marker. So far this year, there are not very many tenants. But they're working on it.

Some of the trees we saw on the way up the hill.






Even milkweed looks good up here.

This was our view up the hill from the pond near the parking lot.

This is the same hill, viewed from the other end. It was worth the work to get up there.

Driving north to Rogers Rock, we stopped for a while at a little frog pond.

Roadside scene in the Town of Graphite. We saw this on the way back from Rogers Rock.
What an odd name for a town, Graphite. Samuel Ackerman discovered graphite here while skidding logs. The mines opened in 1887, closed in 1921. There were two mines, one in Graphite and one in Hague. The mines closed because it was more profitable to import graphite for four cents a pound than to process it for seven cents a pound.
Bats soon discovered that the abandoned mines provided a perfect climate for hibernation. Temperature stays above freezing, so the bats can find water when they need it. All six species of bats that live in the Adirondacks gather here each fall, making this the largest bat hibernacula in the northeast.
Wonder what the elephant thinks about that.

Rogers Rock, also known as Rogers' Slide, is a steep bluff nearly 800 feet above Lake George. Robert Rogers distinguished himself in the service of Britain during the French and Indian War. He is well remembered as the founder of Rogers' Rangers, the same special forces now known as the US Army Rangers.

In March 1758, Major Rogers left Ft. Edward for Lake George with a small army. He intended to go around this rock and surprise the French, who held Ft. Carillon (Ticonderoga). The French found out he was coming and ambushed him, killing most of his company. Rogers escaped unharmed, and climbed the mountain on snowshoes until he reached its steep eastern drop-off.

Thinking quickly, Rogers threw his knapsack and haversack down the cliff. Then, without moving his snowshoes, he turned around on them and re-tied them so his toes were facing the snowshoes' tails. He walked back down the hill next to his earlier tracks, leaving the appearance that two men had walked up to the bluff and no farther.

By the time the Indians - who had been following his tracks - reached the cliff, Rogers had reached his belongings on the lake, strapped them on, and was seen striding off toward Ft. William Henry. The Indians jumped to the conclusion that Rogers had jumped over the cliff unharmed. Believing that he must have been helped by the Good Spirit, they took this "miracle" as a sign that he was not to be molested, and broke off the chase.


Historians generally agree that the Battle of Saratoga is among the ten most important battles in the history of the world. This victory encouraged other European nations to take up arms against the English, ultimately securing the independence of the American States. Because Saratoga National Historical Park is so close to Glens Falls, I couldn't pass up a side trip.

Today's peaceful view of the battlefield from the park's visitor center gives lie to the events that happened there in September and October, 1777.

A nine-mile tour road lets the visitor see the main battle sites from the soldiers' perspective.

British Gen. John Burgoyne believed firmly in the importance of the Hudson River. Attempting to cut off the fractious New Englanders from the rest of the rebel colonies, he devised a three-pronged attack. He would capture the Hudson Valley in a march south from Canada. Col. Barry St. Leger would march east from Lake Ontario through the Mohawk Valley. Finally, Sir William Howe would march north along the Hudson from New York City, recently captured from the Americans. Burgoyne left St. Jean (near Québec) in June 1777 with a force of 9000. These included British regulars, German mercenaries from Brunswick and Hesse-Hanau, loyalists, Indians, and camp followers.

Burgoyne took his first objective, defeating Gen. Philip Schuyler at Ft. Ticonderoga in July after a four-day siege. In his southward retreat, Schuyler covered his path with impediments that drastically slowed the British advance.

Burgoyne pressed on, reaching Saratoga (now called Schuylerville) on 13 September. He soon arrived near the American fortifications at Bemis Heights.

John and Lydia Neilson had a farm just below Bemis Heights. When war came, Lydia went to live with relatives and John Neilson joined the American troops against Gen. Burgoyne. By mid-September 1777, General Gates had taken over the house and barn, using it for his headquarters.

This house is a reproduction, of course. The visitor can see how the house was used.

Here, as throughout the park, the American and British fortifications are marked by wood posts.

Bemis Heights, across the road from the reconstructed farm house, is still a very imposing hill. History changes fast, but geology has a very slow clock in human terms.

The fortification at Bemis Heights was designed by Philip Schuyler before the Continental Congress relieved him of command because of his defeat at Ticonderoga. He had sent Col. Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Gen. Benedict Arnold to prepare this area. This strong position was on one side of the road to Albany; the Hudson River was on the other.

The British had to either run the gauntlet between the Heights and the river, risking catastrophe; or drive the Americans out of Bemis Heights. Burgoyne chose to fight.

John Freeman was a loyalist who had gone north to join the British invading force. The first shots of the Battle of Saratoga were fired on his farm. A sign near this overlook shows how things shaped up in the first of two battles that are collectively called the Battle of Saratoga. Except for the farm itself, most of the terrain was forested; this is where the British soldiers marched while the Americans waited.

On 19 September the British advanced in three columns: Burgoyne and Fraser through the woods, and von Riedesel's troops along the river road. Col. Daniel Morgan was the first to meet the advance. His army of Virginia and Pennsylvania riflemen opened fire on Burgoyne's center column at the Freeman farm. The Americans outnumbered the invaders, and might have won the battle that day except for von Riedesel's timely arrival. With this help, Burgoyne eventually forced the Americans to withdraw. He dug in near the Freeman farm and waited for reinforcements.

The park's visitor center has a diorama that depicts Morgan's riflemen regrouping in the woods during the opening battle.

Burgoyne wanted to fight again the next day (20 September), but Gen. Simon Fraser persuaded him to rest a day. Then he learned that Gen. Clinton was on his way north from New York City. Believing that he would soon have the Americans surrounded, Burgoyne started constructing defensive fortifications: the Balcarres Redoubt at the Freeman farm, and the Breymann Redoubt nearby. The next scenes are from the Breymann Redoubt.

Burgoyne also fortified some bluffs overlooking the river, to guard his hospital, the Indian camp, and a supply line on the river.
There is a slightly larger version of this scene here.

Burgoyne made his headquarters near a spring between his river fortifications and the Balcarres Redoubt. The group in this photo includes two Englishmen and two Germans.

Asa Chatfield's farm is about midway between the American forces at Bemis Heights, and the British at their redoubts near the Freeman farm.

With his supplies running low and his army becoming weaker every day, Burgoyne finally decided he could wait no longer for Clinton's army to arrive. (They weren't coming anyway, but Burgoyne didn't know that.) On 7 October, he ordered a reconnaissance-in-force to test the American left flank. These men deployed in a wheat field on the Barber farm. The Americans found out what was going on, and attacked in three columns under Col. Morgan, Gen. Ebenezer Learned, and Gen. Enoch Poor. The battle was on.

Within minutes, more than 4000 men collided in savage combat along a line stretching westward across the Barber Wheat Field to the clearing on the far hillside.

There is a larger, more readable, version of the panorama here.

Again and again, the British line was broken and rallied. Both flanks were pounded. Gen. Simon Fraser, who commanded the British right flank, was mortally wounded while riding among his men to encourage them. Benedict Arnold had been relieved of his command after an earlier quarrel with Gen. Gates. Now he rode onto the field and led Learned's brigade against the Hessian troops holding the British center. The Germans joined a general withdrawal to safer ground on the Freeman farm.

Arnold then led the Americans in a series of punishing attacks on the Balcarres Redoubt. Failing to achieve his objective at first, he wheeled his horse and ran through the crossfire to the Breymann Redoubt. There he joined in the final stage of an ongoing attack, overwhelming the German soldiers there. When he entered the redoubt, he was wounded in the leg. If he had not survived this battle, there is no doubt he would be remembered as one of the main heroes of the American Revolution.

Another diorama at the visitor center shows Benedict Arnold leading the attack on the Breymann Redoubt.

This monument to Benedict Arnold honors him but does not mention his name. Although he might have been the hero of the battle that turned the tide of the American Revolution, he later became the prototype Disgruntled Employee. Believing he was not properly rewarded for his heroism, he contracted with the British to sell them West Point and George Washington. He eventually became a Brigadier General in the British Army. Needless to say, he is not remembered as an American hero. When Arnold was leading the British in Virginia, it is reported that he asked an American prisoner what the Americans would do if they caught him. The American replied, "They will cut off the leg which was wounded when you were fighting so gloriously for the cause of liberty, and bury it with the honors of war, and hang the rest of your body on a gibbet!"

Erected 1887 By
JOHN WATTS de PEYSTER
Brev. Maj. Gen. S.N.Y.
2nd V. Pres't Saratoga Mon't Ass't'n.
In memory of
the most brilliant soldier of the
Continental Army
who was desperately wounded
on this spot the sally port of
BURGOYNE'S GREAT WESTERN REDOUBT
7th October 1777
winning for his countrymen
the decisive battle of the
American Revolution
and for himself the rank of
Major General

General Fraser was buried near the British river redoubts. There is also a monument at the site where he was wounded, but the writing on it is illegible.

The onset of darkness saved Burgoyne's army from immediate disaster. Leaving his campfires burning, he withdrew his troops behind the Great Redoubt overlooking the river. The next night, after burying Gen. Fraser, the British began their retreat northward.

At Saratoga (Schuylerville), Burgoyne's army was surrounded by the Americans. After a week of siege, he surrendered on 17 October, by the terms of the Convention of Saratoga.

The Saratoga Monument, commemorating Burgoyne's surrender to Gates, is on the spot where that meeting occurred. The cornerstone was laid on 17 October 1877, exactly one hundred years after the surrender. The monument was finished five years later. Visitors may climb the 184 steps (155 feet) to the view from its top. For the less ambitious, there are also good views part-way up, above the statues.

There are four niches around the monument, with life-size statues in three of them:
Col. Daniel Morgan faces west, where he took position to surround the British.
Gen. Horatio Gates faces north, toward the British invaders.
Gen. Philip Schuyler faces east, toward his home next to the Hudson River.
The south niche, facing the battlefield, is empty. It represents Benedict Arnold.

There are sixteen bronze bas-reliefs on the walls of the first two levels inside the monument, depicting scenes from the battles. These three are the fall of Gen. Fraser, Gen. Burgoyne reprimanding the Indians for their barbarities, and the surrender.

This painting is not at Saratoga. It is John Trumbull's The Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, one of eight murals in the U.S. Capitol rotunda in Washington DC. Trumbull painted four of those murals. In the painting, Burgoyne is seen offering his sword in surrender to Gen. Gates, who immediately returned it to him. Then, treating the other man as an officer and gentleman, Gates invited Burgoyne into his tent. All of the figures in the painting are likenesses of officers who met at the Convention of Saratoga.

The Daughters of the American Revolution placed this monument near the Neilson farm in 1951.

The unknown American soldiers
who perished in the Battles of Saratoga
September 19 and October 7, 1777
and were here buried in unmarked graves
helped to assure the triumph of the War of Independence
to create the Republic of the United States of America
and to establish liberty throughout the world




All of that happened in this serene place.


The visitor center has examples of weapons in use in the late 18th Century. These three pieces are English: a short saber, an officer's spontoon (pike), and a holster pistol.

The long guns are an American musket; French "Model 1768" (modified Model 1766) infantry musket; and a British Pattern 1768 short land service musket. The gadget at upper right is an artillery worm head. It's used to clean the bore of larger guns than the ones in this cabinet.

These 2000-pound British cannons fired on American soldiers at the Battle of Saratoga. They were among the arms surrendered at the battlefield. With other surrendered weapons, they were later turned against British forces. They were almost used as scrap metal during World War II.


Generals Philip Schuyler and Horatio Gates were political competitors for the command of the Northern Department of the American Army. In early 1777, Schuyler had the upper hand. But he made some tactical mistakes that led to the fall of Ft. Ticonderoga in July of that year. He retreated to Saratoga, where he designed a plan to engage the British in battle.

As they retreated, the Americans placed several obstacles in the way of their enemy. They felled trees, and burned bridges and crops. The British had planned their march down the Hudson for summer, counting on being able to seize those crops for provisions. This slash-and-burn strategy, suggested by Schuyler's wife Catherine, slowed the British advance to a crawl, and reduced their situation to near starvation by the time they fought the Americans at Saratoga.

Schuyler dispatched Col. Tadeusz Kosciuszko - an engineer as well as a soldier - and Benedict Arnold to Saratoga, to prepare a defensive position at Bemis Heights. Although he had the situation under control, Schuyler had fallen out of favor, and the Continental Congress sent Gen. Gates to assume command.

Gen. Schuyler had a home in Albany, and a summer home on this spot at present-day Schuylerville. This is the third house. The first, belonging to Capt. Philip Schuyler, was burned by French and Indians in 1745. The first Schuyler was killed in that raid. The second house was burned by the British as they retreated after the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Schuyler set about rebuilding immediately, completing this house in November 1777. The house is open in summer for guided tours.

There is a memorial to Kosciuszko, too - back in the park near the Neilson farm.

1746-1817
In memory of
The Noble Son of Poland
Brig. General
Thaddeus Kosciuszko
Military Engineer
Soldier of the War of Independence
Who under command of General Gates selected and fortified these
fields for the great Battle of Saratoga in which the invader was
vanquished and American freedom assured
Erected by his compatriots AD 1936

On the other side, it says, in Polish:
This monument was erected by Poles from Albany, Amsterdam, Cohoes, Schenectady, Troy, Watervliet, and surrounds, 1936


We started the last convention day back at the airport, where the ground events were still happening. We were a little too late for the adult contestants at Map Folding, but the kids were still having a ball.
The contestants must fold a sectional chart in the face of some "standard" adversities of a Grumman cockpit: wind, rain, turbulence, shouting panicking co-pilots, bubbles, badminton shuttles (bird strikes?) ... just about anything goes.

For the precision taxi event, the pilot follows a serpentine course where there are several eggs to be crushed by the nosewheel. There were a lot of undamaged eggs left over. Here, Matt Drahzal almost got one. Almost.

This airplane has about thirty problems that were imposed by the judges for contestants to find. Ashley Porter did a very thorough walk-around and found several things that would prevent her from flying before they were fixed. Her father, Walt, really threw himself into it.


This is the Broken Towbar contest, the only event with separate prizes for men and women. The entrants act out the problems that a Grumman pilot would have if she had to push one of our planes around without the benefit of a towbar for directional control.

Although it had cooled off a bit, most of the pilots still preferred to take in the scene from a shady vantage point.

In the evening, we got together for the farewell banquet. First, the cocktail hour.

We enjoyed the Hotel Queensbury's finest fare and each others' company for a while, and then our President, Nigel Thomas, made a few remarks by way of introduction and recognizing several people for their outstanding efforts both public and private.

Some awards were earned in competition. Christine Micke was the fastest to push a two-seat Grumman backward in the women's competition. She's receiving her award from Arnie Sperfslage, who will chair next year's convention in Burlington, Iowa.

Geoff Hickey explained the rules for the Aerial Scavenger Hunt. One of the requested items was a model airplane made entirely of beer cans. There were extra points awarded if the plane had a sliding canopy. Leslie Maloof displays two of those entries.

Rob Jones, Jeff Simon, John Klapp, Gene Ledda.

Roscoe and Luann recognize some of the Star Squad (youth brigade): "TJ" Jackson, Ryan Willome, and Kim Schmitz.

Ron Levy received the coveted Lauren Larsen Award for outstanding dedication and service to the American Yankee Association. For a change, Ron was speechless.




After flightseeing the States for another week, our European guests finally got back to Connecticut. One more riverfront dinner, and we said our convention good-byes.


Now, what about those chickens? Ni Thomas's faithful travelling companion is well known to all. This year, she acquired a companion of her own. Considering what happened next, she also must have had some special surgery.
Ni always locked his room, so outside interference can be ruled out. Those eggs that appeared on his pillow every night could only have been produced by the two birds shown here. Being of an advanced species, the eggs had hatched by the last night of the convention, and Ni showed up with half a dozen baby rubber chicks in tow. He distributed these around the room to several delighted adoptive parents. I suppose we'll see them as adults next year at Burlington. Maybe some will have rubber families of their own by then.




Until then, we'll just savor this year's Adirondack trip.

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