Category Archives: Airshows / Fly-ins / Events
By Beth Hardy Duff
HOME, SWEET OSH, HOME… So arrive at Oshkosh, we did. In perfect RV style, packed to the hilt with our belongings, looking somewhat like Santa’s red & white sleigh. We followed our guide to our appointed spot and parked Caddie. Great spot this year, we thought to ourselves – on a slight incline so no rainwater would pool up beneath our tent and very close to the road making for an easy taxi out when it’s time to go home. We hopped out and quickly snugged Caddie to the ground with our trusty “Claw System” (don’t leave home without it) and began to set up our Big Agnes tent. We had purchased Big Agnes just for tent camping with the plane in mind – she’s a big, roomy tent with plenty of headspace – enough for Paul to stand and just enough room for the two of us (Big Agnes is considered a 6 man tent) and weighs less than 13 pounds. Awesome tent! We got the tent all set up and headed to registration to pay our tent camping fee and to register. Within 15 minutes, we ran into two of our hangar buddies from home, Tom and Webb. They had gotten here earlier in the week and looked and sounded like they were having a blast! We chatted for a minute and headed on, so much to see and do and oh so glad to be back here again. The afternoon passed by quickly and we began to meet some of our new neighbors. Mel and Taylor, a father and son team who had flown in from Colorado. They were cattycornered across from us and quickly became two of our newest favorite friends, such great people! We, ourselves, were sandwiched in between a white Velocity and a blue and white RV-10, not too shabby company either. As it got close to dinnertime, we met up with some more folks from home and headed over to the Charcoal Pit for dinner. Everyone was having a great time at AirVenture, but most were planning to head back tomorrow being that they had gotten there much earlier in the week than us. Not us, our fun was just beginning…
5150, SOMEBODY CALL THE POPO!… Our first night at OSH, a great dinner had been had by all and now it was time to go night night…or so we thought. About 3:00am or so, Paul and I were awakened by the most terrible racket! We sat up and struggled out of our zippered sleeping bags and unzipped the opaque part of the back of our tent. We rubbed our eyes and stared into the darkness. It sounded like someone banging a Port a Potty door, shortly followed by a LOT of yelling and hollering! A young man apparently high on “something” was standing on top of another guy’s AIRPLANE and screaming not just gibberish, but was on some sort of wild rant about “sustainable development”. Now how does that topic grab you at 3:00am in the morning?? The owner of the plane bolted out of his tent yelling, “Stop It, Stop It, GET DOWN” and jumped the guy standing on his airplane knocking him to the ground. The young man on the ground was very strong and it was hard for the plane’s owner to hold him down. Thankfully, a LOT of help ran to his aid and helped subdue the assailant until more help could arrive. First, Grounds Security showed up on 4 wheelers and flashing lights, then the police showed up along with the K-9 unit shortly followed by an ambulance. He was still thrashing about on the ground with 3 or 4 big men sitting on him and his utterings eventually became x-rated. The paramedics finally injected him with something that didn’t knock him out, but slowed him to the point they were able to get him strapped to a gurney and hauled away. Eventually, everyone finally settled down. We found out later on that the young man was high on bath salts which caused his delirium. Hopefully, that night ended his career of experimenting with them, although, I’m sure his troubles didn’t end there, with his visit to the local hospital and the fact that there was a certain amount of damage done to the owner’s airplane. SHEW, that over, we re-zipped our tent and went back to sleep.
CAN I HAVE IT? CAN I HAVE IT? CAN I HAVE IT?… Wednesday morning rudely rolled around, after we finally got back to sleep Tuesday night. We were ready to start out the day by looking at all there was to see in the newest crop of “airplanes and airplane accessories”. We spent part of the morning strolling though Van’s display and their new announcement – the RV-14. If we had not already built our beloved RV-9A and were still looking for the perfect airplane, this one would have been it! A Lycoming IO-390 (210 hp engine) as opposed to our 160 hp, the ability to hold 50 gallons of fuel as opposed to our 36 gallons, had a little larger baggage capacity and area (maybe those golf clubs would actually FIT in this one) and not that this was a must, but it was aerobatic! Hmmm….for a brief second or two, Paul and I began to drift off into the dream world of breathing life into yet another airplane. We had enjoyed building over those 3 years and had made mention of the fact that both of us did miss the process some. At times, it had become rather Frankenstein-ish, but it was overall a fun and exciting adventure. HOWEVER, snap back to reality – we absolutely do NOT have the funds to start this again without selling our “first born beloved” and I absolutely will NOT give up the ability to fly just to have another airplane ready in “a few years”. NO! We both looked at each other, more or less shook ourselves back into “now-time” and completely agreed that we were most happy exactly where we are in life right now with our “completed” airplane and things will just stay that way…for now. BTW, thankfully Webb and Tom both lost their bets that we would have the tail section to a brand new RV-14 ordered before we left OSH – give us credit, guys, we have some restraint (but mostly, lack of money)…
CAN YOU HEAR THE WIND BLOW?… Wednesday afternoon, found us strolling around looking at some of the vintage warbirds. We always enjoy seeing these old beautiful birds that people love enough to maintain in excellent form and fly them to AirVenture – the “Mecca for all things Aviation”. The wind was beginning to kick up a good bit and the forecast called for bad weather that afternoon. The wind had already removed my hat from my head twice. Thankfully, I was wearing my “fishing hat” which has a chin strap that kept it with me (I promise, it’s not quite as “gooberish” as it sounds). Anyhow, Paul got a call on his cell and looking down, didn’t recognize the number right off hand. He answered and someone with the grounds crew at Oshkosh had called to let us know that our tent had blown down and we might want to go back and tend to it. Apparently, the winds had gotten a lot worse over on that side than where we had been. Thankfully, it never rained that afternoon, it just blew. We walked back toward the plane and immediately noticed that we could see the tail of our plane, but could no longer see Big “Tall” Agnes standing. When we got there, Agnes was lying in a pitiful heap on the ground with a broken tent pole staring us in the eye through a newly poked hole in the rain fly. We picked her back up, looked her over, and really, very little harm was done. The tent was still just fine, only one broken tent pole and a “somewhat” minor hole in the rain fly. Our good neighbor, Taylor, helped us by locating some duct tape and helped us mend Big Agnes and her broken tent pole back into an acceptable position and she was deemed good to go again. I talked to Taylor for quite some time and found out he was a remarkable young man and just as easy and fun to talk to as anyone I’d ever met. I told him about meeting Brittany, the beautiful young pilot and her grandfather on our stop in Mankato and Taylor told me I needed to find her and let her know he was available! So, Brittany, if you are checking out our blog, let me highly recommend chatting with Taylor (if you are not already taken) because I think you two would be a perfect match! You have TONS in common!!! Now, Taylor, I have fulfilled my duty and done what I can, the rest is up to you!
STAR WARS ON THE HUDSON… Wednesday night came and we attended the EAA Chapter President’s Reception hosted by Ford Motor Company. This year’s special guest was George Lucas – yes, THE George Lucas! Jeff Skiles was also there as one of the Young Eagles Co Chairmen – you’ll remember him as Chesley Sullenberger’s co-pilot from “Miracle on the Hudson”. So the night was full of fame, food and fun. We ran into our dear friend, Steve, from home and spent quite some time chatting and sweating with him as it was as hot as a Mississippi night in July in Wisconsin that night.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2… “Where’s the tent?”
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Density Altitude… It was Monday morning and the forecast was still looking a little nasty for the next few days. So, we decided to break camp a day early and try to get as close to Oshkosh as we could. It was only a five hour flight, but we would would lose a time zone hour traveling east. This would make it hard to get into Oshkosh before the airshow closed the field, so we decided to get as close as we could, find a hotel, take good shower and spend the night in an air conditioned room. By the time we packed everything up and loaded the airplane at KRAP it was 10:00 and the temps were already in the 90’s. The automated weather at the airport was indicating a density altitude of over 7,000 feet… with a field elevation of 3,200 feet, thats a lot of DA! To the non-pilots out there, density altitude is a calculation that tells you basically where the plane “feels” like it is. The higher a plane climbs the harder it is to continue that climb. So, on this day, at this location and temperature, with the wheels on the ground our plane would climb like it is already at 7,000 feet… not too good, but well within her performance limits.
Long Roll… After “holding short” for a few planes on final, we were finally give clearance to takeoff and get out of this sweltering heat. As expected with the high density altitude, we rolled a lot further down the runway before lifting off, but soon we were climbing out and heading east. As we were departing, the controller even asked if we were going to Oshkosh… he sees a lot of RV’s stopping there during Airventure week.
Weather Ahead… We knew when we were planning the route that morning that we were going to have to get around a cold front that was slowly falling south from Canada. As we approached the looming clouds we could see several openings to the north and since its always better to be behind the weather than in front we took advantage of these openings. This did turn out to be a good decision since the front consolidated to our south and the temps fell into the 50’s at 9,500 feet – a welcome relief from the 90’s we just left!
Two Hops to Wisconsin… We were not able to land at our intended first stop due to weather but made it a little farther northeast to Mankato, MN. Mankato Regional Airport (KMKT) is located just south of Minneapolis and has two nice long runways. The staff was friendly and had free hot dogs and drinks for Oshkosh travelers along with a fuel discount. While resting there, we met two folks from California that were headed to Oshkosh. A young lady that had just taken her PPL check ride at 16 years of age and her grandfather. It was inspiring to see the two of them sharing a passion like flying and to hear her
dreams of becoming a Naval aviator. They were going to try to get into Oshkosh after the airshow that day, but we had decided to fly close to Oshkosh and spend the night in a hotel so we could wake up clean and fresh for the demanding OSH arrival. I had chosen Alexander Field (KISW) at Wisconsin Rapids, WI and gave them a call to see how far we would be from a hotel. The lady that I talked to, called a local hotel with a reasonable rate for us and offered to give us a ride in when we arrived – What a deal! The weather appeared to be moving in on us again, so we said our goodbyes to our new friends and continued east to KISW.
Great Place to Stop… We arrived at Wisconsin Rapids without any issues and were able to put Caddie in a hangar for the night for 20 bucks (good insurance, considering the weather we had been through). Howard, the owner of HJ Aviation, drove to the hangar, picked us up and carried us in to the hotel in his personal vehicle and said he would be back to pick us up at 7:30 the next morning. Our hotel was nice and within walking distance of an Arby’s (dinner) and a CVS (wine)… two showers and a good nights sleep in air conditioning AND Howard was picking us up and taking us back to the plane early Wednesday morning. You always hear of southern hospitality, but we were treated like royalty at every airport we stopped at on this trip, especially at HJ Aviation!
Red & White RV, Cleared to Land Runway 36L… We threw our overnight bag in Caddie, said goodbye to Howard and departed to the southeast for Oshkosh. Beth flew the first leg to Ripon which allowed me to setup the radios and go over the NOTAM one more time. Our plan to get into OSH early worked out perfect, there was very little traffic due to the bad weather south and 4,000 overcast in the area. I took over flying once established on the arrival. At Fisk, we were asked which runway we wanted & we took 36 since it is what we did last year and it lets us roll out near the taxiway to home-built camping.
See The Short Video Below…
Great Times Ahead… Once we got the plane tied down and the tent set up, we headed to show center with eyes wide open and our thoughts turned to all things aviation – what a great week we have ahead of us… I am turning the keyboard over to Beth for the next post from Airventure 2012 – Stay tuned…
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See Spot Run… or better yet, see Paul & Beth fly! We have had our Spot Satellite Messenger in the plane since our first flight almost two years ago. While we rarely use the tracking feature, it is nice to have the peace of mind that we could get a message through to the authorities from a remote location if needed. This handy little device keeps up with where you are and has the ability to transmit your location automatically for tracking purposes or in the case of an emergency, we can push the red help button and the unit will contact search and rescue, giving them your exact coordinates for a speedy rescue. Spot’s website boasts almost 2,000 rescues initiated by the device with 314 rescues in 2012 alone. I hope we don’t need it, but like insurance, it is a good thing to have, especially since our trip will take us over “The Badlands” – not a place I want to spend much time in.
New “TRACK US” Link… If you’ll notice at the top of the page, I have put a “TRACK US” tab. This will take you directly to our Spot Messenger publicly shared page. I will “try” to remember to turn the unit on when we take off (yes, it is on the checklist) so that those interested can see where we are and where we have been. Just a note… if you see it just stop tracking in mid-air, don’t be alarmed, it runs on 3 little AAA lithium batteries that will die without warning and I do have a handful of replacements. I had hoped to embed the linked page into our site, but apparently WordPress does not allow embedded links due to web security concerns, so for now you will just have to hit the “TRACK US” link and be routed to Spot’s shared site.
The plane is packed… the GPS databases are updated, the oil has been changed and we are ready to go! Plans now are to leave after work on Thursday, weather permitting and fly to Flippin, AR and stay in the camper Thursday night. Friday morning, we will head to Rapid City, SD with probably one stop around Grand Island, NE for fuel and a potty break. After a few days tent camping in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore, we will head on over to Oshkosh to enjoy the rest of the week at AIRVENTURE! – can’t wait…
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Let the packing begin… We have started getting things ready for our annual trip to Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. For 5 years we pulled our camper for the 2,000 mile round trip to the mecca of aviation and last year we were able to fly our newly built RV-9A. This year we are planning a little “side trip” to the Black Hills area of western South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and the Custer National Forest.
Dining room table overload… So, about two weeks before we take a big trip, we start setting things on the dining room table, “so we don’t forget anything”. Yes, we do have a list, but this just seems to work well in organizing the packing. First a few towels and hats, then the sleeping bags, mats, tent, rain gear… you get the point. We figure, once the table is full, thats it – it probably will not fit in the plane! Luckily, most of the stuff we have is VERY light weight and we only carry five days worth of clothes since we plan to hit the laundry mat when we transit from Rapid City to Oshkosh. Our biggest issue is the volume of stuff that goes in the plane not the weight… the baggage area in a RV-9A is not very big!
Wall of Fire… Two years ago, while at Airventure, I took the short video below on my iPhone. It was very exciting and since it was the first night airshow at Oshkosh, I’m not sure any of us were prepared for what we saw – enjoy, and I apologize in advance for the “S” word and yea, I know I sound a little like Larry the Cable Guy…
Tracking our progress… In an effort to keep family and friends up-to-date with where we are and how things are going, I plan to put a link on the blog next week to our SPOT emergency locator tracking page. I just bought $20 worth of the required Lithium batteries to keep it going while we are moving around. We also plan to “live blog” with the iPhone & iPad and will try to push a few postcard pictures up when we get near some wifi. So, to keep up with the trip’s progress, please enter your e-mail address in the box to the right of the page or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica.
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 https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica.
Air Festival… So we got up early Saturday morning to head to the Jennings, LA Airport (3R7) to fly into the Barnstormers Air Festival. We intended to be “wheels-up” at around 08:00 with us in “Caddie” and our friends Charlie & Tupper England in their RV-4, but the weather at the destination was 100′ and overcast. The forecast was for it to clear out to VFR around 10:00 or so, so we decided to wait around until about 09:30 to leave. After an hour & 15 minute flight down, we found some holes in the clouds to descend into Jennings. This is a BIG airport covering lots of acreage with two paved runways and one grass strip. Runway 13/31 was closed by NOTAM and was being used by the car show folks, so we landed on 08 and taxied into parking. After securing the plane and meeting up with Charlie & Tupper, we headed to show center to see the what there was to see. There were only a handful of airplanes at this time and most were “spam cans” with a few RV’s and other homebuilts. There was one food vendor and a lemonade stand next to a stage and that was about it for food. At noon or so, the band cranked up and they were very good. Unfortunately, they just did not have much of an audience to listen to what they were playing.
Cars, Cars, Cars… Lots of cars, I actually think there were more cars there than airplanes. There were a lot of good looking classic and antique cars along with several chopped up rods… There was plenty to look at and I took a bunch of pictures. But, after a couple of hours in the spring sun and not a lot of airplanes to look at, we decided to head back home. Charlie had told us about the Jazz Festival in Ridgeland, MS that was featuring some folks he was interested in hearing, so off we went…
Final Thoughts… While we were a little disappointed in the turnout at Jennings, it was understandable due to the low IFR conditions that plagued the area up until 10:00 AM. Most folks just aren’t going to file IFR to go to a casual Saturday event or “Scud Run” at 800 feet to get there. So, take a look at the car photos (click them for larger view) and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by entering your e-mail address in the box in the right hand column. You can also “Like” us on Facebook in the right hand column.
Operation P.R.O.P. is THIS Saturday, May 12th and we need some pilot volunteers with their airplanes to be at the Raymond Airport! Please contact Linwood Nooe at the phone number or e-mail in the press release below to let him know you are coming. We really need some larger 4+ place aircraft to help us out at the event. Please try to be at the airport at 09:00 so that we can have a safety briefing and go over the flight details. I think you will find, as Beth & I did last year, that this will be a very rewarding experience for the participants as well as the volunteers.
|YOU ARE INVITED! ALL FREE! Operation PROP is pleased to announce the third Let’s Go Flying event on Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 10 AM – 2 PM* at the John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond, MS. Operation PROP is a nonprofit organization for People Reaching Outrageous Potential by introducing people with disabilities and Wounded Warriors to recreational and employment opportunities they may not know exist.Operation PROP is a gathering of pilots with a special purpose – to offer people of all ages with all kinds of disabilities the opportunity to break the bonds of earth and experience the joy of flight. Flying can be a life-changing experience that brings new adventures and builds self-confidence to better handle life’s challenges for persons with special needs.
A fun day is guaranteed for all! A few of the exciting activities include the joy of flying in an airplane for persons with disabilities, exhibition by Jackson’s own wheelchair basketball team, “The Rollin Tigers”, and the world renowned wheelchair fencing team, “The Blade Rollers”, art classes, face painting, lunch and more! And IT IS ALL FREE!
Go to www.operationprop.com for more information. Main event contact: Linwood Nooe 601.624.4400, email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you on May 12! In the meantime, we wish you Blue Skies and Tail Winds! Click on the following link to view a short video from our last “Let’s Go Flying” event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9xo4eYqYKY
The Loudest Plane on the Field… When the Harrier pumps water into the jet engines as it hovers over the runway and the black smoke begins to roll out it truly becomes the loudest plane on the field! This photo was taken at Sun-N-Fun 2012 of a Marine Corps Harrier AV-8B. The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) ground-attack aircraft. (Wiki) This shot was another 3 shot, hand held HDR taken with the D7000 and processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 and Photomatix PRO. Click on the photo for a larger view and let me know what you think of the processing level…
We left Jimmy and Lulu behind at 40J and flew south (see SNF Leg 1 post), maneuvering just east of the Tampa class bravo per the NOTAM. About 60 miles north of Lakeland, the Zaon PCAS started talking to us… “TRAFFIC” she blared. As expected, the airspace is getting crowded with other planes headed to the same place we were and several headed north from KLAL. The good news was that everyone seamed to be at the proper altitudes and doing what they were supposed to be doing. We tuned the approach frequency and descended to the approach altitude and started trying to get in the “congo line”. Our first attempt to get in line put us behind a Piper Cub at about 75 knots that didn’t seem to be headed in the correct direction. This was a little slow for us, so we looped around and got back in line, this time behind a nice twin at a 100 knots… perfect! Then we hear the magic words: “Red and white RV over the power plant, rock your wings… looks good, follow the twin to 27R and welcome to Sun-N-Fun”.
We have arrived… once on the ground, we taxi’d to homebuilt camping and began the process of unloading and setting up the tent. This area is away from the other camping areas and we were worried about where the showers were and other amenities, then we met Mary Jane! Mary Jane was like the den mother to the most awesome group of volunteers anyone could ask for. We were treated like royalty; there was cold water, sandwiches, a nice large tent for shelter and an invite for dinner every night! We even had a group of pilot musicians on Saturday night come entertain us. Homebuilt camping is the place to be!
The show… while not as big as Airventure, SNF had plenty to offer rabid aviation nuts like us. Most of the aerobatic performances we have seen dozens of times and they do get a little boring, but I never get tired of seeing the Thunderbirds turn tax payer purchased Jet A into noise… it just never gets old to me. The night airshow was beautiful as usual and we were able to take it in from the comfort of our chairs at the tent. The vendor booths seemed to be busy with lots of folks standing around anything with an iPad attached to it or the letters ADS-B associated with it.
Overall SNF was great, the weather was perfect, only a few passing showers, the cool temperatures at night made it easy to sleep and the new friendships we made will bring us back again. I have already heard from our tent neighbors, Chuck from Oregon, who flew down with his friend Ron in a beautiful Lancair (and we thought we had a long cross country). We also ran into old friends from Mississippi who managed to slum their way down in a King Air for the day on Thursday. Once again, our many thanks go out to Mary Jane and crew for their help and hospitality and we hope to see you all again next year.
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