Category Archives: Rants

Oshkosh 2013, Recap

Overall… our trip to Oshkosh & Airventure 2013 went very well.  The weather could NOT HAVE BEEN BETTER!  Morning temps in the 50’s and mid afternoon highs in the 70’s made it really easy to sleep in the tent.  We had very little rain and only one big gust of wind…  No tents were harmed in the making of this adventure!

Attendance… seemed on par with last year and was confirmed this week by EAA.  Over 10,000 planes made it to Oshkosh for the week.  RV’s were well represented in homebuilt camping as you can see by the panoramic photo below… this was taken from the wing of our RV9A (click for larger view).

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Show Changes and Cool Stuff… I think were, for the most part, good.  I liked the new airshow format, the $2 water everywhere, the new food vendors with a much larger variety and TWO night airshows.  The biggest thing missing this year was ALL military aircraft.  We had no C-17’s or A-10’s on static display or the usual daily flybys from F-18 Hornets or F-22 Raptors.  Thank goodness there is one person alive that can afford to privately own and operate a Harrier Jump Jet so that we can get our fill of noise on the flightline every afternoon!

Flying Car and a Jet Man…  One of the neatest things we saw was the Terrafugia Transition (flying car) do its thing in public for the first time.  It rolled out on its own power, unfolded the wings and took off to do a nice aerial display… then it landed, folded up its wings and drove off… pretty cool!  The “Jet Man”, Yves Rossy, was interesting enough, but watching something 6,000 feet over your head that didn’t even make much noise left a lot to be desired.  One of the “sleeper” displays of the week was the SubSonex single person V-tailed jet by Sonex Aircraft.  I’m not sure how you would insure it, but with a $10,000 deposit you could reserve a production slot on this $125,000+ single seater to be delivered next year.

Shower House RANT… It wouldn’t be the EAA if we didn’t have something to complain about now would it?  When you go to take a shower at home you expect to leave the bathroom cleaner than when you came in… not necessarily so if you shower at homebuilt camping.  Try putting on fresh clothes with water ankle deep in dirty bath water… wet cloths & shoes, ain’t no fun!    I know it costs money, but HBC could really benefit from a permanent structure like they now have on the North 40 with flush toilets and private bath stalls.  I know we didn’t spend as much money on our homebuilt planes as the Bonanza Bums & Station Airheads that camp the North 40, but we are part of the reason over a half a million people show up every July. (OK, lots of my friends drive Bonanza’s and 206’s… just laugh, OK)

20130728_112144IA, New State… On the trip up to Oshkosh, we made a fuel stop in Dubuque, IA (KDBQ) and parked next to a familiar P-51 Mustang and our friend from home, Dan Fordice.  Dan offered us lunch with the T-6 group that had been training there all week as he fired up “Charlotte’s Chariot” to beat the weather into KOSH.  After a quick bite and some fuel we managed to get out in front of the long line of T-6’s as they formed up and headed north.  After looking at my log when we returned, I realized that Iowa was a new state for our “land in all states adventure” – number 17 – a long way from all 49, but we are getting there!

Next Year?… you bet, we plan to be there.  Where else can you spend a week in a tent with 10’s of thousands of propheads like ourselves that traveled across this beautiful country of ours to the aviation Mecca, OSHKOSH!

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Enterprise Rent-a-Car “We’ll Pick You UP”… just not at an airport!

Another RANT

In the words of Earl Pitts…Ya’ Know what make me sick?” – Getting screwed by a rental car company!  While planning our trip to Oshkosh by way of Rapid City, SD (KRAP), I figured we needed a car for the four days we planned to be in KRAP.  So I called the FBO at KRAP and asked about rental cars.  The response was that we can get you a car from Hertz and have it here when you arrive or you can get one directly from Hertz.  So, I decided to go online with Hertz to see what their rates were and if maybe there was another option.  Sure enough, Hertz had a rate for the FBO delivery… $90 per day plus a multitude of taxes that amounted to a total over $450 for four days!  HOLY KRAP!

BTW… this is the reason we bought our ’97 Grand Marquis to keep in Arkansas.  The FBO at Mountain Home, Arkansas was charging us $65 + per day for an economy class car from Enterprise.  One day when I found a special deal on a car from Enterprise for $29, I asked if they would pick us up at the airport – the response – “Oh no, we can’t do that, the airport is a protected market.” – WTF – “So you’re telling me, if I walk down the road a mile or so to the fire station on the main highway, you’ll pick me up” – “I guess we could”… well that was “too much candy for a nickel” as my dad would say.  SO, we paid $1400 for a car of our own, in pretty good shape, and put it at a different airport (KFLP) that charged $0.80 less per gallon for 100LL.  Now, after 34 nights of use in less than a year, I have saved over $2,200 and the FBO at Mountain Home has gone out of business…

Back to KRAP… So I decided to give Enterprise another try, this time at Rapid City… imagine that, EXACTLY the same price (over $450 for 4 days) as Hertz but they were located at the airline terminal and did not provide service to the FBO.  So, I decided to look at their “in town” price since their slogan on TV is “we’ll pick you up”, WOW, you could get the same crappy economy car 7 miles away for LESS THAN $200 for the same 4 days!  Well, I may be stupid, but I’m still cheap…I rented the $190 car online just to see if they said anything about excluding delivery or pickup at the airport.  Sure enough, I get this quote printed on my receipt…

“THIS LOCATION IS UNABLE TO PROVIDE PICKUP OR RETURN SERVICE TO THE RAPID CITY AIRPORT. IF FLYING INTO THE AIRPORT PLEASE USE OUR BRANCH LOCATED AT 4550 TERMINAL ROAD. ”

What a racket… So much for their popular “pick you up” slogan.  I understand that there may be some additional cost of doing business at the airport, but to be able to charge 141% more for the same car – I gotta call blowing snow here.  So, I guess we will figure out a way to get into town, I’m sure I can get a cab to take me in for 20 bucks or so, which will still keep our rental cost below $250, that $200 saved will buy a lot of Leinenkugel’s when we get to Wisconsin!

FAST FORWARD 24 HOURS…  After stewing over this CRAP @ KRAP, I got to thinking that maybe there was a local alternative to the national rent-a-car companies and the whole airport price fixing thing and after a quick Google search, I found several local companies that WOULD pick you up at the airport.  I ended up calling Black Hills Car Rentals and talked to John, who said he would pick us up at the FBO for no extra charge and the rate was $37.95 / day plus tax!  For a total of $193, we can be picked up at the FBO when we arrive and can leave the car at the FBO when we get ready to depart… now that’s customer service!  So, I quickly cancelled the Enterprise contract and I will post our experience with the local company after we return the car, but I am confident, at this point, it will be a good one.

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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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