Monthly Archives: June 2012

Mercedes Benz?? Best Airport Crew Car EVER!

Flying for work… One of the perks of my job is having the ability to fly to our distant locations when needed. Flying the RV-9A actually burns less gas than my Dodge and when  I can avoid the cost of an overnight stay its a win-win for me and the company. This was the case earlier this week, when I needed to do some work at our location near Bay St. Louis , MS.  This is nearly a seven hour round trip drive that could be made in Caddie in about 50 minutes, one way, and the Stennis International Airport (KHSA) is just a couple of miles away.  All I needed now was a ride to the plant…

I’ll take the Mercedes… Since renting a car would defeat the justifiable savings of being able to fly, I usually try to get a local employee of ours to pick me up or secure a crew car.  So, I called the local FBO at Stennis (MILLION AIR), and asked if they had a crew car that I could use.  “Yes Sir, we do…” the young lady said, so I gave her my tail number and told her when we would be there.  Upon arrival at Stennis, we taxied to the ramp area, topped off the left tank (all of about 8 gallons)and proceeded inside to pick up the car. After photocopying my license she tossed me the key… well, not exactly a key, but a big plastic thing that had Mercedes written on it.  “It’s the black E350 just out the door” she said … WOW, I’ve had crew cars from a Jeep Cherokee with the rear window taped up to retired police cars to a new bright yellow Camaro (KJKA), but I’ve never been offered a Benz.

NO PReNDLe… OK, “you know you’re a red neck when…” you can’t get the car in gear.  We built our own airplane, wired the all glass – high tech panel and fly it all over the country, but put me in a car without a gear shift and i’m lost.  There was no standard gear shift with the normal PRND12 symbols – aka “PReNDLe”, instead there was a “little shifter like thingy” that you pushed forward to go into reverse and pulled back to go forward (German engineering at its best).  I did finally get the car going in the right direction without taking out the chain-link fence around the airport and the ride to work was great.  This is a very nice car that had a real smooth ride and nice high tech gadgets in the panel.

After a successful trip to our plant, we returned to the FBO and pulled out our snack lunch and enjoyed our meal in front of the big screen TV.  The folks at the FBO were very nice and the fuel prices were reasonable at around $5.70 a gallon.  The airport has a nice big runway for the area we were in in Mississippi.   At 8500 feet long by 150 feet wide, they can handle all sorts of large aircraft.  Being an old “space nut” I may bring us back to visit the Stennis Space Center which is only a few miles down the road and maybe even get another ride in the Benz…

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Breakfast at Concordia

“Caddie” @ Concordia

This Last Weekend… we wanted to make a short trip Saturday morning just to get in some flying because we were going to drive to Laurel Saturday afternoon and visit family for Father’s Day and attend a benefit for a friend who was hurt in a motorcycle accident.  Friday night, while we were trying to decide on where to fly the next morning, I received an e-mail about a fly-in breakfast at the Concordia Parish Airport (0R4) in Vidalia, LA, just across the river from Natchez.  We had been to their breakfast events sevreal times in the past and always enjoyed the food and fellowship, so this was a perfect trip that allowed us to get our flying “fix” for the weekend and get a great meal too.

Short Trip… Concordia is only about a 30 minute flight in the 9A, so we went “wheels up” at about 7:45 to be sure we were there by 8:30 when breakfast is served.  As we arrived, we heard one plane in the pattern doing touch & go’s and several more in-bound for a meal.  The usual “landing judges” were standing at the back door of the FBO building and greeted us as we climbed out of “Caddie”.

Great Food and Conversation… Turn out for this morning’s breakfast was a little light, but that did not stop Mike McCrory and crew from fix’n up a nice assortment of breakfast foods ranging from the usual biscuits, bacon and eggs to fancy wraps.  Throw in some homemade jams and jellies, some STRONG Louisiana coffee and this was a diet busters delight.  Of course, when more than one pilot enters a room, talk of all things aviation ensues.  This has to be the best part about breakfast events like this, the sharing of information and stories will keep us coming back time and again.

“I’ll show you mine”…  Soon after all of the bellies are filled, most folks walk out to admire each other’s planes and talk about Lycomings vs Continentals and fuel injection vs carburetors and any number of other “mechanical” topics.  Some take advantage of the cheap fuel ($5.00 / gal) at the pump and others go on their way to their next stop for the day.  We hopped in and “hot started” the fuel injected Lycoming and took off into the clouds, a little heavier and a lot happier that we had our flying “fix” for the day.

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Panoramic view at Concordia a few months ago when 12 RV’s were on the filed at once (click to enlarge)…

Un-manned Aircraft vs. The Rest of Us – Another UAV Bites the Dust…

PAUL’s first rant…

It’s only a matter of time… before one of these UAV’s comes into contact with another airplane.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big of a “technologist” as anyone, but the level of technology required to keep these things separated from “the rest of us” is NOT THERE YET!  Most of the UAV’s of the world are piloted by a guy in a mountain cave in Colorada in front of a computer screen with a joystick.  Some, are flown locally from an inconspicuous trailer in the Walmart parking lot, but they all require a radio signal to the UAV via a satellite data link… that is where the problem starts!  The system latency of a long distance, point to point satellite signal can be several seconds AT BEST… imagine a 400 MPH vehicle being controlled by someone who only knows where it was 3 or 4 seconds ago.

Skin in the game…  When we are flying the RV-9A around, we are always looking for other planes, even if we are on an instrument flight plan.  The most basic rule of flying is “see and avoid”… I don’t think this can be done as effectively from a cushy seat in the Colorado “bat cave”… what does he have to lose?   If the drone, Captain America is “flying”, “scrapes paint” with my little plane or God forbid a 737 with 184 souls on board, he goes home a little upset and the rest of us get shipped back in a pine box!

LANDED – WTF???…  Details of todays incident in Maryland can be found at this link on USA Today.  You gotta love the mainstream media’s view of what happened.  Look about 2/3 of the way down and see the quote “CNN says the drone landed in a marshy area near Salisbury Md.”…. LANDED!!!, I was always taught that a great landing was one you could walk away from  and a good landing was one that you could still fly the plane after.  Apparently, CNN thinks that any drone in a SMOKING HOLE has landed!

Time and a Place… Don’t get me wrong – I think these things have a place “in theater” during war time and “off shore” for for testing.  But, PLEASE don’t put me face-to-face with this 176 Million dollar RC plane operated by Captain America until his seat is rigged with a little C-4 plastic explosive that is set to go off when we make contact!

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Trout Attack! – Memorial Day Weekend – Beth’s Turn to Talk…

by Beth Hardy Duff

So after a second day of instruction with Ron and a very successful one too, I might add, Paul and I decided to strike out on our own since it was time to “test drive” our new “schoolin”.  We drove a short way from our camper and ended up at Roundhouse Shoals.  This is another beautiful view of the White River and one we had noticed before.  (Frankly, I don’t believe there are any “unattractive” views of the White River).   Roundhouse is just across the road from where we pick up our free firewood from the truss company.  Hey – it’s free and it burns, don’t laugh.  We’ve actually grilled steaks over a “truss wood fire” when the electric fire starter for our Big Green Egg sputtered out and died one evening leaving us with a “cold egg”.

Anyhow, we found a place to park Jane (our beloved airport junker – she’s another story all by herself) and got out of the car.  I knew it was a long way down to the river from there but had no idea how steep the descent actually was until I stood above and peered down.  It reminded me of the Mountain Slide I had gone on at Camp DeSoto as a girl – the only requirements for it were that you be a Senior Camper and that you wear a “nearly destroyed” pair of blue jeans because they’d surely be, once you tore the seat out of them sliding down the rocky, muddy mountainside.  The only thing I had in common with this view and that slide was the fact that now I’m really a Senior!

As we were looking over the situation and considering tying a rope off to Jane and letting ourselves over the edge, mountain-climber style, we spied another person just a few yards up from us.  Paul suggested we go ask them where the best spot to get down to the water’s edge was located.   When we came up on the vehicle, a person was standing behind it obviously getting ready to fish.  As we walked around the side, Paul said “Good Morning” to which a lady turned around and said, “Well Good Morning!”   I have to admit, even I was taken aback when she greeted us.   Not just by the fact that she totally looked the part of a very well practiced fly fisher-person, but that she also was strikingly beautiful – complete with perfect makeup, hair, hat, waders, etc.  I didn’t exactly notice Paul’s reaction to her stunning good looks, but I’m certain he did notice, although he didn’t act that way.   Kudos to him for not gawking and hollering, “DA-YAM”!  Thankfully, he most always manages quite a bit of self-control when necessary; that’s one reason I married him.  He asked her if she knew of a good way to get down to the river’s edge and she simply replied, ”Well, there just isn’t a good one” and sorta laughed.  She sincerely meant that.  Then, glancing at our brand-spanking-new wading boots, she asked us if we had studs on our boots.   Our answer was, “No” and probably should have been followed up by, “well, not just yet…” Thankfully, she was very kind and gave us the benefit of the doubt by not just saying, “How green are you at this? Or better yet, “Should you two be out alone?”  We continued our conversation and divulged the obvious by telling her we had just had a couple lessons with Ron (whom she knew) and that we were truly “newbies” at this new sport.  We introduced ourselves and we found out that her name was T-Bird.  Don’t know what her “given” name is, but I have to believe that her nickname does truly fit her well.  She began to show us the flies in her fly box and it was quite an impressive collection.  Lots of things we had seen before, even more we had not.  What were even more impressive were her fingernails!  When I say this gal had fingernails, I DO MEAN NAILS!   They were really, really long and looked incredibly strong.  And these were definitely homegrown, no sculptured ones for her!  WOW!  I began thinking that maybe these must be her secret of how she scaled her way down to the river and back up again.  Anyhow, as she began to talk with us, we quickly found out that she was the real deal – she absolutely knew her stuff.  She pointed out to us that the bottom of the river where we were planning our “trout attack” was very slick rock and dangerous to navigate especially without studs or a wading staff.  Ron had already warned us about the slick blue rock.   We had looked quickly at the river’s bottom when we first got there, but not well enough to have noticed the infamous blue green rock we had been warned about.  Note to self, make sure you take a better “look-see” next time.  Hmmm… so after about two seconds consideration, we decided maybe this area was a bit more advanced than we were just yet and might be better saved for a day fishing with Ron.

We continued our chat and she gave us more advice and helpful hints and was truly a fine ambassador for the sport of fly-fishing.  She told us she had been fly-fishing for 12 years and tying flies for 5 years.  Once again, I sneaked another look at her nails and thought, I couldn’t even tie my shoes with those things!  Growing nails is just one of those things I’ve never been able to do and frankly, I just haven’t let that bother me that much.  T-Bird then gave us some safer suggestions as to where we might try fishing on our own.  One of her suggestions was to try the public access at the State Park below Bull Shoals.  She also made several suggestions of flies to try there, too.   So we thanked her for the wealth of information she had shared with us and for steering us “newbies” away from Roundhouse.  Regardless of whether she told us all this to shoo us off her favorite fishin’ hole or just because she didn’t want to practice advanced lifesaving skills today, we were thrilled to learn all we did and happy to try out a safer option for fishing.   So off we headed to Dally’s Fly Shop to pick up some of the newly suggested ammo for our “trout attack”.

We had a great drive to the Bull Shoals White River State Park.  This place was packed with people who had decided to camp or visit for the day – remember this WAS Memorial Day weekend!  We found the public access area and hopped out of the car.  Right away we found a great, safe way to get down to the river and fantastic benches to sit on & “suit up” and something else that didn’t delight us all that much – this place was also everyone else’s idea of a favorite fishing spot.   The number of other fly-fishing enthusiasts submerged “bootie deep” in the river numbered about twenty (that we could see at first glance)!  GOSH!  Did EVERYBODY have to show up here today?  This sight reminded me of the deep sea fishing “party” boats you go on when you can’t afford a real charter boat trip.  The “ding-ding” of the boat’s bell that signified you to fling your line overboard as you stand elbow to elbow with massive numbers of stinky, sweaty “city folk fishermen” who know nothing about fishing to the “ding ding” of the bell that signified you to pull in your line which then began a frenzy of tangled lines, crying children and endless streams of obscenities.  This was NOT what we were looking for, but we kept looking at the anglers who stood fairly close to each other and they were successfully casting their fly rods, not tangling up with each other and actually exhibiting some semblance of etiquette toward each other. we stood there a little longer, we noticed one catch a trout, then another one, and then another one.  Well, maybe it’s worth a try, we decided and so we donned our waders and boots and trudged into the water.

Fearing we might blow our cover of “newbie fly fisherpersons”, we carefully trudged in and stayed back from the massive line of fishermen, not wanting to disturb them and began to cast.  After a few casts, we managed to remember how to do this new skill and got more comfortable.  After about fifteen minutes, one of the guys in front of us, turned around and said he was going to have to leave and told us to move up to his spot, he had definitely had some luck there.

We thanked him profusely and began to move.   Paul, being my sweet husband that he is, encouraged me to move ahead and take the newly freed spot and said he would move up on my left.  I trudged forward several more feet to where the former fisherman had been and began to cast.  Although the person closest to me on my right had looked way too close at first, he now didn’t seem to crowd me as much.  He may have noticed my real skill level and taken a couple of serious steps to the right in self-preservation, but regardless, I had some room now.   One of the first things I had noticed right away about this area was that the water was considerably colder than where we had been earlier.  This was because we were closer to the dam and the water hadn’t had traveled far enough yet to warm up much.  Regardless, the 90-degree sunshine actually felt good and with the cold water cooling off the rest of us, the temp was just about as perfect as it could be.

I was the first one lucky enough to have my fly bitten by a trout that day.  It absolutely made my day!  I worked with the fish and played him down well.  Since I still didn’t have a fly-fishing vest yet and all the necessary (or unnecessary) accoutrements, I hollered over to get Paul to come net the fish for me, which he cheerily did.   I said, “It’s a nice one, wanna keep it?” to which my husband replied, “No, I don’t want to just keep one fish to clean, so throw it back.”  I’m sure my face looked like the little girl who’d just dropped her lollipop in the sand pile.  “Oh, well, okay,” so I let my newly prized possession down into the water and he happily swam away.    So I casted out again and was just getting ready to recast when another trout took my line.  “Woo Hoot!  This is really getting to be fun!” I said.  I wasn’t quite clear on what Paul said, but it didn’t matter, I was having a ball!  So I worked this fish down also and Paul netted this one for me too.  I said, “Well, since it does appear that we are going to catch fish today and the freezer is officially out of trout, let’s keep this one.”  Paul obliged, so we tied him off to the stringer.  I did offer to have MY FISH tied off to MY SELF, but Paul dutifully tied the stringer off to himself and walked back over to his spot.   I began casting again and caught another one – it seemed as though I had a fabulous fish magnet on the end of my tippet.  In fact, it was one of the suggestions that T-Bird had given us that morning that we had just purchased at Dally’s.  “Ms Nails” really did know her stuff!  Paul was not fishing with the same fly as I was, but was sure luck would find him soon, especially with the look of determination (or was that consternation) on his face.

With each fish I pulled in, it seemed it took Paul a wee bit longer to make it over to me and net my fish.  I did thank him kindly every time he came over and less and less was said by him (that I could understand anyway) to me.   On about the fifth fish, I thought, maybe I should just play this one down for a little while and not say anything right away since he had not even made it back to his spot yet.  As I glanced over at Paul, I noticed he was not casting, but attempting to fix or cut away a wad of knotted line of indeterminate proportion.   The day was not going like he had planned, but it was going.   As I began to look away from that sad sight, he looked up & saw that I had another fish on the line.   I grinned and his shoulders just sort of fell, but he didn’t say another word; he just made his way over to me and quietly put this one on the stringer too.  After that fish, things began to settle down a little bit and Paul did manage to get the chance to cast unbothered for a little while – but only a little while.

From his left, I could see about 5 or 6 children, ranging in age from about 4 to 14.  A few of them had rods in hands and the others were making their way around to the river’s edge in front of us.   The next thing I know, one of the boys casted a lure the size of a bowling ball into the water landing about 2 feet from where Paul’s fly lay.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the endless circus of antics going on.  Children were screaming and thrashing about in the water, some were throwing mud and everyone was having a good ole time.  Everyone except Paul! There couldn’t have been a fish left anywhere close to that area even if it had been blind and deaf as Helen Keller!  Paul just looked at me and it was hard to contain myself.   At this point, God intervened and two of the fishermen to my right decided to leave so I graciously moseyed over to the right to allow him room to move away from the growing water fracas.

After changing over to the same fly I was using and managing to catch 3 himself, Paul mentioned that we should be fishing “barbless” so that we could let some of the smaller fish go without hurting them.   I said, “Well okay, that’s good, we’ll do that.”  Before I knew it, Paul had grabbed my fly and had “bent down the barbs” so I was now appropriately fishing “barblessly”.

For some reason, I lost the next four fish I caught.  I’m not sure but I’m thinking instead of bending the barbs, he simply clipped the end off my hook.

For what it’s worth, I now have my own vest, but payback’s gonna be Hell!

(PLD) Watch the short video below… doesn’t she  look better in her new waders!  You can subscribe to our blog by entering your  e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at

Planning for Airventure – Oshkosh, Here We Come!

Every Year, About This Time… Aviation enthusiasts around the world start planning a trip to Oshkosh Wisconsin and Airventure — we are no different.   The stats are incredible, 10,000 plus airplanes, 30, 000 plus camping and over a half million folks will visit the hallowed grounds of KOSH, making it the busiest airport in the world for a week.  We pulled our 5th wheel camper to Oshkosh for 5 years before we were able to fly-in last year, in our freshly home-built RV-9A.  Trust me, if you like airplanes and have not been to Airventure, you need to put this on your “bucket list”.  It is truly impossible to take it all in, in three or four days!

Side Trip…  This year, we are planning a side trip to Rapid City, SD (KRAP) to tent camp in the Black Hills and visit Mt. Rushmore for a few days.  We intend to visit Wyoming, North Dakota and Minnesota, if the weather allows, and roll into Oshkosh near the middle of the week.  We may even try to fly fish while we are there, just to see what they do differently.  We will be in a tent for probably 9 of the 10 nights on the road (thank GOD for a wonderful wife!) and will wash clothes the night we spend in the hotel.  I am currently researching campgrounds in the Black Hills around Mt. Rushmore, so if anyone has any ideas about places to stay, please, let me know.

Last Year’s Video…  While were planning this year’s trip, I ran across a video I made from the approach to KOSH last year.  It was a fun ride; we had made it to an airport about an hour south before we hit bad weather.  After waiting it out all day, we found a nice opening that allowed us to make it in before dark on Sunday.  It was very busy, with planes coming in from every direction, but we made it in safely and saw a friend of ours from Mississippi before we even got out of the plane – Only at OSHKOSH! So, check out the video below and as always, you can subscribe to our blog by entering your  e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at

Memorial Day Baptism – White River Style

Windy Ride…  The wind always seems to blow in the Ozarks and rarely down the runway, but we decided to wait until late in the afternoon to fly up, thinking if we get there about dark the winds will have died down a bit.  This time our thinking was right, the afternoon winds had been gusting to over 25 knots and mostly a crosswind at KFLP, but had now calmed down to 8 to 14 or so.  The ride to Flippin was uneventful and when we got there, the car cranked and we were on our way to the camper, waders & fly rods in hand!

Low Water!…  After years of high water and flooding conditions on the White River, things appear to have returned to normal.  Several weeks of low or no power generation has made the river safely wadable again and now we have nice new breathable waders (see old wader post!) and are ready to put them to the test.  I had called our fly fishing instructor, Ron McQuay before we left, to check his schedule for the weekend and was able to arrange an outing with him on Saturday morning, but tomorrow was Friday and we were going fishing!  We started at a familiar location just up from the camper, Wildcat Shoals.  Wow, we have never seen it this way, we waded completely to the other side of the river and never got in over 2 feet of water.  After fly fishing for hours without any bites, we had our usual picnic lunch next to the river.  We decided to pull out out spin fishing equipment when we returned to the water and still had no luck.  We could see dozens of fish just under the surface, but could not get them to bite.  I even saw a very large brown trout and was able to get so close to him that I took a picture of him with my waterproof camera.  We fished for a couple of more hours and gave into the hope of catching fish with Ron in the morning.

Beth’s Second Baptism…  We met Ron for breakfast and discussed the water conditions and decided to start our fishing for the day down at Rim Shoals.  The outfitter down there offers a water taxi service so we went up the river to where a creek enters the river.  As we prepared to enter the water, Ron pulls out this jointed “stick-like” device and starts putting it together.  “Hmmm, what is that?” I said,  Ron’s reply was “a wading staff, they are nice to have…”.  I’m thinking yea, well we waded all around yesterday without incident, so that should not be a problem.

We moved into the water, fly rods in hand and just as we got above knee deep, I hear Kuplush… I turned around to see Beth, my lovely bride of 30+ years, with her fly rod held high in her right hand and her whole left arm, up to her neck in the frigid water.  I’m thinking, good girl, don’t drop that new L.L. Bean rod & reel into the water… only GOD knows what she was thinking.  The good news is that the new, properly fitted, waders didn’t let a drop of water in and that fancy new fishing shirt she had on would dry out in a flash and we now have matching wading staffs on order…

First Trout…  I had caught my first trout on a fly the last time we were on the White River with Ron (story here).  Ron did not totally like the look of the water where we were, but we started casting, stripping & mending (cool fly fishing words, huh – only one of those words had anything to do with fishing before we met Ron).  Soon, the fight was on… Beth had her first trout on a fly and it was a good one!  After a few minutes of wearing him down, Ron netted the rainbow, pictures were taken & the fish was released.  Just as I had been hooked by this sport a few weeks ago, Beth too, was being taken in by trout fever.  We continued to fish Rim Shoals and Beth & I both caught another fish, but we left the island with Beth up two fish to my one.

Let’s Go, The Water is Coming!…  Since the water at Rim Shoals was not exactly like Ron wanted, we decided to drive down to the Norfork River below the dam.  The generators were shut down and the only water flowing was from dam and generator leakage.  Wading in this area was simple, but Ron warned us of the very little notice we would get if/when they turned on the generators.  So we waded upstream several hundred yards in mostly ankle deep water to find some nice looking pools that had fish that we could see.  Ok… there she goes again, catching fish.  Beth quickly caught a couple of rainbows in the pool of slow moving water while I was just casting away.  We had been fishing for an hour & a half or so when something changed.  I noticed the slightest change in the sound of the rapids just above us, so I picked out a rock to watch just to see if the water was coming up, then I heard Ron yell, “It’s a BROWN!”  Beth had her first brown trout ever and it was on a fly rod!  So, I moved down to where they were to take some pictures.  About the time I got to them, one of the fellows fishing down stream from us yelled, “Let’s go, the water is rising”.  As Beth and Ron took care of releasing the brown trout, I started the trek back to the access point.  I was amazed at how fast the water rises when they turn on the generators.  What had been a gravel bar when we walked upstream was now under a foot of water in just a few minutes, a great lesson to learn for future outings to the Norfork… at the first sign of changing water – get moving!  When we got ready to leave the parking area, Ron invited us to a pot luck fish fry up at Copper Johns Lodge on Sunday night.  That sounded like a good idea, especially since all of the fish Beth had caught had been in the catch & release areas and we had no fish to eat.  So, we took the beautiful drive back to Cotter with more great memories in our rearview mirror and another day of fishing ahead.

Watch Video Below…

Beth’s turn to talk…  Part 2 will come in the next few days and will be written by Beth about our fist successful day, fly fishing by ourselves…

You can subscribe to our blog by entering your  e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at  Once again, I would like to thank Ron McQuay for taking an interest in us.  Ron is a very patient teacher and is very knowledgable of the White River fishery.  Ron’s website is

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