Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Wings & Wheels - Angel Flight Motorcycle Ride

Written by  June 30, 2004

On Sunday, June 6, around 200 riders on 145 motorcycles participated in the Second Annual Wings & Wheels motorcycle ride, a fund-raiser for Angel Flight Central. The mission of this organization is to arrange transportation on behalf of people in need for the purpose of access to medical care or for reasons of compassion or community service. The event raised almost $6,400. Christel Gollnick, Angel Flight’s Executive Director said, “This event is not only a celebration of the lives we are lengthening every day by helping people in need access life saving medical care, but it is a fun way to do so. The energy of all the volunteers who work hard to put this together and the general positive spirit of all the bikers is incredible!”

The ride began at the Kansas City Aviation Center located at the Johnson County Executive Airport and covered about 100 miles of Kansas roadway with stops at Tumbleweed Saloon in Gardner, Fro’s Hideout in Linwood, Kobi’s in Bonner Springs, and The Other Place in Olathe. The weather was very pleasant with the morning’s broken cloud cover giving way to clear afternoon skies. Participants who paid $35 for an individual or $50 for a rider and passenger ($5 less if registered by May 23) received an event t-shirt, a ride pin, a dice run playing card and route map, food, and sodas. There were a number of nice raffle prizes, and there were live and silent auctions at The Other Place with many great items available. The prize for the high dice roll was a $250 gift certificate from Gail’s Harley-Davidson, and the low roller received two tickets to the Craftsman Truck Series July 6 race at Kansas Speedway.

Winning raffle tickets were drawn by a very special little boy. At age four, Mason was diagnosed with a brain tumor causing severe neurological complications. In order to save his life, it was necessary to transport Mason to Memphis so that a specialist could perform a very rare type of surgery that was required. Arrangements were made with Angel Flight Central for the flight. The operation was successful, and Mason is now a normal, healthy boy. Mason’s mother, Rebecca and her friend Bill wanted to give something back to the organization that provided such a wonderful service, so they set out to organize the first Wings & Wheels ride which was held last year in September. Again this year, Rebecca and Bill served as chairpersons for the event. With the assistance of many volunteers and sponsors, the ride was again successful.

During the ride, I had the pleasure of visiting with Greg Kaaz, an Angel Flight volunteer pilot who has flown over 100 missions, and his son Matt.

CC: What do you fly and what do you ride, Greg?

Greg: I fly a Cessna Conquest twin turboprop owned by my company Lexeco, Leavenworth Excavating & Equipment Company, Inc. My ride is a 2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rod.

CC: How much experience do you have as a pilot?

Greg: I’ve logged about 2,500 hours over 15 years.

CC: How did you get started with Angel Flight?

Greg: I saw an ad in a pilot magazine for Air Life Line and decided to volunteer for that organization. Later Air Life Line merged with Angel Flight Central.

CC: Matt, how old are you and how long have you been riding?

Matt: I’m almost 17. I got my Yamaha TT-R125L off road bike in 2000.

CC: What are you riding today?

Matt: I have a 600 cc Suzuki Katana, my first street bike.

CC: Is this your first dice run?

Matt: Yes.

Matt had an interesting experience during the ride. As his group cruised through Eudora, Kansas, the rider ahead of him pointed out a box turtle in the road. Matt took evasive action but not quickly enough to avoid grazing the hapless turtle and sending it spinning across the road and into the grass. This provided Greg and his friends with the perfect opportunity to tease Matt at the next stop. Greg asked, “Was the turtle moving so fast that you couldn’t avoid it?” Matt took the kidding in stride. He has learned that motorcyclists take great pleasure in poking good-natured fun at one another. I’m not sure he totally adjusted to his new nickname, “Turtle,” by the end of the ride.

This event was a special treat for me, since it involved two of my greatest passions, motorcycling and aviation. I was pleased when I was invited to join Mike Schweder and several other members of the Cycle Connections team to participate in the ride. We had a good time and plan to be back for the Third Annual Wings & Wheels Ride next year.

Story by Stripe

Photos by Stripe and Mike Schweder