ROAD TRIP WEEKEND! (Well, SKY TRIP, really)

By Beth Hardy Duff

HUMAN MAILING TUBE.. After having returned from a wonderful trip to Washington, DC on Tuesday, we were chomping at the bit to get in Caddie and go somewhere – ANYWHERE!  Caddie came into existence for a number of reasons, one of which being my (our) dislike of traveling via commercial airlines.  Human Mailing Tube, as it is lovingly referred to by the aviation community, is far from my favorite means of transportation – right on up there with bareback bronco riding – in summer – with hemorrhoids!  Anyhow, I digress, once again, our experience with the commercial airline wasn’t exactly grand, but I can’t really blame them this time (much).  It was weather related – ugly weather.  We had already boarded the plane in DC headed to Atlanta and even pushed back from the gate at which point the captain came on the intercom and stated, “Bad news, folks, we’re going back to the gate.  Atlanta has closed due to bad weather and they are not accepting any incoming flights.  We expect the delay to be about an hour.”  The transmission ended with the abrupt click of his microphone.  Now we know the REAL reason the cockpit crew stays behind locked doors!  He did tell people that they could disembark and go get something to eat, that they had about an hour.  It seemed the minute everyone left that wanted to leave, he then came back on and announced, “Well, it might not be quite an hour, looks like the weather is clearing up and Atlanta will open shortly.”  Thankfully, Paul & I didn’t fall for theget off the plane if you want to trick and stayed put.  Think this was a dirty trick to cure an overbooking problem?  Hmmm…Surely enough, not 35 minutes later, we were cleared to once again leave the gate.  A few calls were made for “missing passengers” for those who had decided to disembark, then we pushed back from the gate.  I can’t imagine who we left and how ticked they were when the passengers (former passengers) returned from standing in a very long line at McDonald’s for a delicious McRib to find their plane had “left home without them”.  Heh heh, it’s funny if it doesn’t happen to you.

LONGING FOR LULU’S… Friday afternoon, Paul began making some calls to see if we could scrounge up some friends to make a “Lulu Run” down to Gulf Shores, AL on Saturday.  This is one of our “most fa-vor-ri-tist things” in the world to do.  Getting a bunch of pilots and (normal people too) together and all flying down to KJKA (Jack Edwards) in Gulf Shores, hopping in their courtesy car (which is always a very nice vehicle) and heading off to Lulu’s for lunch and non-alcoholic beverages – BUUURRPP!!  The weather was going to be beautiful and we were about to DIE to go somewhere!  Call after call came up empty, one of our friends even told us that they had made a Lulu run while we were gone to DC and that they just couldn’t go again right then.  WHAT? I can’t BELIEVE they went without us!  Well, I can, actually.  We’ve been gone a lot lately.  Anyhow, Saturday morning rolled around and we did scrounge up a couple of takers, but by time to depart, we were once again down to 3 of us, Paul, myself, and Mike Dalton.  It would have been fun to fly our own plane, but it just didn’t make sense to take two separate planes when Mike’s Bonanza E-33 could easily carry the 3 of us — in a cushy ride I might add, and our plane could only take the two of us.  So, a deal was struck between Mike and Paul and we headed southeast for Lulu’s in Gulf Shores.  Nice trip down, and in about an hour, we were getting out of Mike’s plane when he recognized the Baron belonging to Bob, a friend of his.  Next thing we knew, Mike was on the phone with his friend, Bob, and we changed our Lulu plans to meet up with Bob and his fiancee at Shipp’s Harbor Grill in Orange Beach.

WHAT A RIDE!… Now KJKA is known to have pretty snazzy courtesy cars as Paul and I had found out in the past when we were handed the keys to a very new, bright and shiny yellow Camaro!  We were expecting something pretty great this time as well, when we were handed the keys to the courtesy vehicle.  Paul and I went to get the car while Mike was finishing up some business inside.  While we were indeed happy to have a courtesy car at our disposal for about an hour, we were a little disappointed that this was not the usual “status quo” courtesy car we had come to expect from Jack Edwards.  Although it was parked right next to a bright, shiny red Corvette, that’s as close as it came to being “snazzy”.   A bright white van decorated with the words, “Shrimp Basket”, “Mikee’s – A Place for Seafood” and “the Steamer” proudly awaited us!  The look on Mike’s face was priceless as he walked out of the FBO and saw us waiting for him in the van.  Immediately, he yanked out his phone & snapped a picture of “Driver Paul” in the Van, while not even trying to conceal his fits of laughter.  Regardless, we found our way to the Harbor Grill and enjoyed a fantastic meal while making new friends to boot on our day trip to the LA Riviera.  Paul and Mike had the grouper sandwich, (I think) and Angel, Bob’s fiancee  convinced me that if I really loved a wedge salad, that this was the best one to be found anywhere in the US.  I have to admit I wholeheartedly agree and that this might also be the LARGEST one also, as I boxed up half of it.  You gotta admit, that was some “well traveled lettuce” that accompanied me on the flight back home that day.

WELL, WHAT DO WE DO NOW?… The next day was Sunday.  Paul and I got up and went to church as usual, got back home and noticed once again, it was a perfect 10 out of 10 day.  “Well, where do we fly today?” was the question.  The real question was, “Why didn’t we start giving this a little more thought earlier in the week?”  We thought and thought, surfed the web, dug through the logbook and did nearly everything we could think of to come up with a good idea on where to go.  Didn’t want to go too far, that just gets into too much expense.  Couldn’t just sit on the ground on a beautiful day like today.  We had already finished painting the deck (that only took 3 weeks) and so, we were due a reward!  We were already hungry so wherever we decided to go, had to have food within reach.  Well, after a great deal of thought, we decided to go back over to Monroe, LA.  We had taken 4AE, our former, shared ownership Cessna 172 there to have the transponder repaired at their radio shop and while there, had eaten at the restaurant inside the airport terminal.  It was good food and decently priced, so we decided we would just do that again.  Deal?  Deal!   Hmmm…note to self, things change, call next time before you go.

MONROE BOUND… So we took off from Raymond in our plane, since it was just the two of us this time and headed on over to Monroe for food, since by this time it was about 1:00pm and we were about ready to eat the seats out of the 9A.  Paul took off and then handed the controls over to me.  He’s been doing this a lot lately and I’ve been loving it!  In fact, so has Paul.  It gives him a chance to look around and enjoy the ride, while still keeping an eye on me and allowing me to have a little fun too.  I’m still not proficient at taking off or landing, but that will come with practice and more practice.  For now, I can definitely get us there  while being pointed in the right direction and staying at the right altitude while following a route and that makes me very happy.

FIVE GUYS… Landing at Monroe, we taxied to our appointed spot and parked.  As we were getting out we were assisted by 5, yep, count em’ 5, linemen – obviously a slow day at the airport and a tad bit of curiosity.  I can truly say we NEVER get tired of questions and compliments on our airplane. “WOW, nice plane, is that a 7A?”  “No, it’s a 9A”  “Cool, did you build it yourself?” Paul’s reply is always, “Yep, WE built it OURSELVES.”  “Cool, how long did it take you?”  Our reply in unison is, “3 years and 3000 hours.”  By that time, it has usually sunk into someone’s head that Paul meant me and not some invisible “man” standing in front of me, that I am the other half of this project.  “Oh, YOU helped him build this plane?”  To which, Paul usually replies, “Yes, she shot all the rivets in it – 18,000 of them.”  Now, to tell you the truth, I have not counted (well recently anyhow) the exact number of rivets in our airplane.  Back when we were building, I could have given you an exact count of how many were in the piece that we worked on that day.  Not that I wanted to count them, but it’s just one of those things.  ANYHOW, after all the oohing and aahing is said and done, Paul asked, “So, the restaurant over at the terminal, is it still open?”  To which, the reply was, “No sir, they aren’t open on Sunday.  In fact, the restaurant you’re talking about is gone.  The lady that owned it, died and it closed and was replaced by a more or less snack shop.”  Paul’s reply was, “Oh….well, do you have a courtesy car?” and Thank Goodness, the reply was , “Yes sir, we sure do.”  This was another nice courtesy car, not a Camaro or Mercedes and certainly not a Jeep Wagoneer with the blown out back window, but a very decent blue Ford Edge SUV.  The deal was, you could take it for two hours (hmm…very VERY nice), but after two hours, its $10 for every 30 minutes over that.  Fair enough, 2 hours is ample time to go somewhere and eat.  We were lucky enough to find one of our favorite restaurants still alive and doing quite well in Monroe and that was Copeland’s.  It was in the Pecanland Mall and virtually no distance from the airport – I think it was 3 miles, but don’t quote me on that one.  Fantastic food once again and great service.  Paul had the Shrimp Ducky and I had the Apple Almond Bleu salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette.  At 510 calories, it’s probably the lowest caloric content of anything on their menu and absolutely divine!

The flight back home was fun as always, Paul let me fly again and we arrived safely back home at KJVW after another fun filled day of experiencing the $100 Hamburger.  Only now the $100 part doesn’t include fuel!  Ah well, that’s why we do make sacrifices to continue with our guilty pleasure of “flying for food”.  You give up here and you give up there and then you get to enjoy for a while.  Not so very different from anything else in life, really, is it?

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Advertisements

Washington DC, not what I thought!

Slow to Post…  Since returning from Oshkosh, things have been a little hectic and not allowed time for much writing.  It has been fun to run into friends and family that have asked what we were going to write about next.  It is cool to know that folks DO read this stuff – THANKS!

Washington DC… Our most recent trip was one for work and unfortunately did not involve our airplane, but was very interesting anyway.  The company I work for, Delta Industries, is active in the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and I was able to make a national meeting this past week in Washington, DC.  Beth nor I had never been to DC, so we decided to go up a day early and try to see some sites.  Little did we know that one extra day was not going to allow us to see much more of this VERY interesting city.

You Can Feel the History…  Final approach into Reagan National Airport put us right over the Pentagon and my immediate thoughts went to the tragedy of 9/11.  Then, I saw the Arlington National Cemetery just beyond the Pentagon and my thoughts turned to those who have died for my freedom.  At that point, I knew this was going to be a special, thought provoking, trip.  I don’t think there is anywhere else in this country that you can go stand in one place and be surrounded by so much history and walk the paths of some of the most brilliant (and not so) makers of that history.

Need a Plan…  After settling in at our hotel just south of town, I purchased a three day pass for the shuttle to downtown.  Most of my meetings for the first two days were in the afternoon and at night so we could get up early and shuttle in for some sightseeing. This afternoon was open though, so we decided to get to it and head in for as long as we could and at least look around and come up with a plan for the next two mornings.  The shuttle dropped us off north of the Capitol building at Union Station.  We started our walk to the south to see the Capitol and then to the west along the National Mall area.  The first thing we noticed was how spread out this place is!  It is a long way from the Capitol to the White House and there is a lot of stuff to see in between.  We continued our walk to the Washington monument and then north to the White House.  This brought us close to the Old Post Office which was the last place we could catch the shuttle back to the hotel at 8:30pm.  Wow, what a walk!  We did get an idea of where things were and what we wanted to see the next morning.

The Best Stuff is FREE…  Early the next morning we were back on the shuttle, headed into town – first stop – the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  We figured we could cover it in a half day and see something else later that day – WRONG, this place was huge and we ended up spending the entire day there!  Besides being an aviation nut, I have always been a space program nut, it was all here and we could have spent two days going through it in detail.  Most all of the displays were the real thing when possible, not just models or mock-ups.  The highlight of the day was seeing the ORIGINAL Wright Flyer that Orville and Wilbur managed to get in the air over a hundred years ago.   The really great thing about the Smithsonian Museums and the government buildings was that there was no charge for admission.

Ruby Slippers, First Lady Dresses & the Constitution…   The next morning we were back at it again, this time at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  If only we could have learned about history in school by visiting these places (I guess the smart kids did).  Beth wanted to see the Ruby Slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz along with the dresses worn by the First Ladies collection.  Not the most interesting things to me, BUT, there were tons of cars, electrical motors, steam engines, guns, trains and other cool stuff invented by Americans on display.  I think the highlight of this museum was seeing the original US flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner during the war of 1812. After spending the morning soaking up history at the museum, we walked over to the National Archives building which houses The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights.  I was amazed that you could put your eyes 6 inches away from these historic documents – this was a goose bump moment!  The room was darkly lit to preserve the documents and no cameras were allowed, but this experience will live with us forever.

007 & Spies Like Us…  When we were done at the archives building, we had a few more hours before we had to catch the shuttle so we decided to stay in the area and visit the International Spy Museum.  This museum did charge 20 bucks each to visit, but it was also well worth it.  We only had 2.5 hours to spend and needed 3 times that!  Their massive collection of spy devices, memorabilia and video presentations was impressive and interesting to a kid that grew up during the “cold war era”, and like most museums, you finish the tour at the gift shop.   This was not your average gift shop though, they had all kinds of knock-off spy devices and more T-shirts than Disney World.

Slide Show – Photos were taken with Samsung S3 Phone…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More Time Here… While, the rest of the trip for me was spent in meetings, Beth was able to take a tour of President Lincoln’s cottage with the ladies one day and then it was time to fly home.  While some BAD weather got in the way of us getting home on time, we did make it home safely and longing to return to DC.  I would love to spend 5 or 6 days just visiting the museums downtown along with the monuments and the Arlington National Cemetery.  Looks like I need to familiarize myself with the Washington area ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) and fly Caddie up to Manassas, VA… I guess we’ll have to put that on the list!

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Oshkosh Fun Part 2, Dark & Stormy…

By Beth Hardy Duff

AFTER A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP…  Thursday morning came and we had the day planned to sit in on more forums than we could possibly squeeze in a day, but that was the fun of it – plan way too much to possibly get done in one day, so you are never NEVER bored!  That afternoon, we found a fantastic forum called, “Flying with your iPad”.  Since we both own iPads and we fly a “paperless cockpit” with them, we thought this might be the perfect opportunity to learn more about using them.  We got settled into the forum and it was a packed house!

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT….  Well, it wasn’t night, but the sky was looking like it.  That might also have been another reason that this popular forum was so popular.  People were beginning to crowd in and it was standing room only.  The speaker began his discussion of the virtues of the iPad and the wind began to huff and puff, then blow, then just downright howl.  The sides of these forum buildings (which are open on 3 sides) have heavy-duty curtains that can be let down to keep out wind, rain, dust or whatever else is blowing that day.  The curtains were let down and quickly, there was quite a commotion going on.   Some people began to stand up and well, of course, so did I.  The speaker asked, “How many of you folks are worried about your airplanes parked out there?” knowing full well that he had indeed lost the immediate attention of his audience.  About that time, I decided it was a good time to video whatever I could with my phone since I always seem to be about 10 seconds late in cutting it on and missing out on anything I’m trying to video.   I had my phone well over my head (since I’m short) and I thought that maybe it could see what I could not see.  It did record the impact of the storm and the howling of the wind, but neither it nor I could see what caused the entire back part of the audience to gasp and shout, “Oh My God!”

Okay, by this time, we were well beyond being able to pay attention to the very interesting speaker and his subject and were near panic with worry over our sweet Caddie and Big Broken Tall Agnes, so we picked up and left the forum.

UH OH…  As we quickly trudged back toward the plane, we noticed what everyone had been gasping over.  A beautiful, little yellow experimental bi-wing had been flipped over on top of a mini replica mustang.  Oh, what a terrible sight, but we couldn’t stop, we had to head on and find out the status of Caddie & Agnes.

As we got closer, Paul turned around to me and with a big frown said, “I don’t see our tent — again.”  We got closer and there lay Agnes again in a heap, but with Taylor’s sweet helping hand attempting to hold the tent up and keep the water off what he knew were some of our precious electronic toys inside.   I was so shocked that I never even thought to take a picture of the tent or Taylor holding her up this time.  As we began to pull the tent off our belongings, it became evident this time that the storm had felled the giant – Agnes would stand tall no more.  In fact, one of the things that we had thought was an asset, was in fact, not.  Agnes had rested on an incline and we had thought at first that would be great to divert water away from her and that was right, but we didn’t figure straightline winds into the scenario and that probably did us less favors by actually forcing the wind over and through Agnes at an accelerated rate – sorta damned if you do, damned if you don’t.   Our clothes, our iPads, our “juice box” which was our essential recharging unit for all things needing a charge at night,  our iPhones, EVERYTHING was soaking wet!  Paul actually poured water out of his iPad!  Taylor had done all humanly possible and had stood out there in the midst of the storm to save our stuff!  Tell me – WHERE do you find people like Taylor?  If they exist, most times you will find them affiliated with aviation in some way.   Thankfully, the Claw System had held Caddie steadfast to the ground and she had not moved an inch.  She was just fine and our new waterproof cover we had just bought for her had kept the cockpit dry as a bone.   This is the time when your airplane does double duty as the world’s largest clothesline.  We spread out the sleeping bags, pillows and other assorted amenities on the wings and hung towels off the prop

World’s Largest Clothesline

to dry.  As wet and wild as that storm had been, it was incredibly hot now and things were beginning to dry out very quickly.

HAD ENOUGH YET?…  Well, reality set in when Taylor actually offered to let us sleep in their tent stating he would sleep in the plane to make room for us.  And know what??  I absolutely believe that he would have!  But this blow we’d been dealt finally broke us this time.  Taylor walked with me to the dumpster as I carried Agnes’ remains and he lugged along the remainder of her tent stakes and rain fly.  We gave her a very quick funeral aka – open the dumpster and toss her in (I did finally remember to return later & snap her picture).   After we left there, we walked back over to the sight of the flipped planes and once again, Taylor jumped into action asking if there was any way he could help.  He began carrying parts of the destroyed bi-wing over to another section of the field where the loose parts were being stowed.  Once again, what a kind hearted soul.

Big Agnes… RIP’d

IT’S ONLY MONEY…  Paul began to call around as we no longer had a tent and now needed a place to rest our heads for the night.  While he was on the phone,  Tom Poberezny, former EAA Chairman of EAA Fly-in & Convention, came by and actually asked us if we were okay and if we needed help.  If you have any idea who Tom Poberezny is, it’s very much like God himself asking you if you could use a little help.  We thanked him and said we were okay and had located a place to stay for the night.  We had indeed found a place to stay – Paul had been on the phone calling area hotels to see if they had any vacancies.  This is very much like calling around at night during the Olympics just to see if hotels had any vacancies.  Yep, somebody’s going to have a vacancy, but somebody’s gonna pay!  So, in no time at all, we loaded up everything we could carry, wet and not, and walked a mere 2.5 miles to the cheapest $250 a night hotel one could ever have!  It frankly was worth every penny – I think I took 2 showers that night, but we slept in air conditioning in a dry bed and we were thankful for it too.  Oh yeah, we did manage to find a little wine to soothe our pain while we poured more water out of our electronic toys.  Thankfully, only the juice box bit the dust.

BACK FOR MORE!…  One might think with all that went on, that we would pack up and abandon any further idea of ever returning to AirVenture – Oshkosh!  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Where on earth would you ever find such helping hands and 500,000 people with at least ONE thing in common?  The aviation community is quite a giving, generous and loving community in it’s own right.  Granted, like with any other large group of people, you do have some that don’t quite fit the bill, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.  Frankly, I cannot wait until next year to return to Oshkosh, with our new tent in tow, and a chance to meet new fresh faces and catch up with lots of old ones.  It’s something that makes precious memories even more precious, year after year.

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

“5150 Somebody Call the POPO!” Oshkosh Fun Part 1

By Beth Hardy Duff

Our New Friends, Mel & Taylor

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?”

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Rapid City to Oshkosh, Just the Beginning…

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

Caddie at KISW

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…

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Playing with our New GoPro Video Camera Today

Kirby Chambliss @ the GoPro Booth

Great Deal… We have been playing around with different video cameras for the last two years; borrowing good ones from others and using our own that were not really designed to be “action” cameras.  While at Oshkosh, we went by the GoPro booth and looked at their line of cameras.  I had seen them before and had been impressed with their ability to withstand harsh environments.  I have seen them on TV shows like Flying Wild Alaska and Gold Rush being put to the test.  At $299, they are not the cheapest solution, but are one of the best.  Luckily for us, while at Oshkosh, they were offering a $100 off coupon, if you registered at their booth, so we did… 2 weeks later we got an e-mail link to a special site that allowed you to purchase the HD HERO 2 for $199 – that’s a GREAT deal!

Zero to HERO... So when our new unit arrived this week, I could not wait to put it to the test.  Today was forecast to be cooler and clear, and it was.  We played around with the mounting system and looked at locations inside and outside of the plane.  The camera is very versatile and puts out incredible video.  The ability to input audio from the panel is what had me sold.   Mounting is as simple or complex as you want it to be.  We modified one mount to go under the wing looking forward at an angle, this proved to be a very interesting view.

Video Below… After enjoying a wonderful day at the airport and in the air, I came home and managed to put a few of the clips together.  My video editing skills leave a lot to be desired, but here it is, watch it & tell me what you think!

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Road trip to Devils Tower Wyoming

Status of Caddie… So, after two hail storms and torrential downfalls at the campground near Hill City, SD our concerns turned toward the plane which was at the airport in Rapid City (KRAP).  The weather map on the iPad had the storm that was on top of us heading straight to the airport.  After limited sleep, we popped up early and drove straight to the airport to lay eyes on Caddie.  She was fine!  The tie downs were secure, the Bruce’s Custom Cover was a little askew, but there was no water inside or hail dings to be found.  The folks at the FBO said it had not rained that much there, apparently it is usually much more severe in the hills than down on the plains where the airport is.

Road Trip… So, with our fears of damage to the plane put to rest, we decided today would be a good day for a road trip.  We had 200 miles per day allowance on the rental car and had only driven a hundred or so.  We decided to head north and then west to Wyoming to see the Devils Tower.

Almost Rally Time… Our first stop, up I-90, was the infamous town of Sturgis, SD, home of the annual bike rally.  The rally was still two weeks away, but this little town was preparing for the arrival of thousands of biker dudes and babes!  A lot of them come up early and were cruising the hills on “Softails”,  “Fatboys” and choppers.  We stopped at one of the large T-shirt vendors and ran into a couple of guys from Birmingham that were running the business.  We bought a couple of T-shirts just to proclaim we had been to Sturgis and continued west.

Close Encounter… After nearly an hour of driving, we went over a hill and “WOW”, there it was.  Just rising up from the plains was this large rock formation unlike anything we have ever seen.   As we got closer, I could see how this site held such a spiritual significance to the local tribes.  It was one of those “goose bump” moments as we arrived at the monument welcome center.  The goose bumps got a little bigger when I realized there were people scaling the sides of this thing at varying elevations.  I did not realize that, not only did the Park Service allow climbing on the monument, but promoted it also.  While listening to a ranger give a talk about the turkey vultures (we call ’em buzzards) that were circling the monument, I heard someone behind me make a comment about “being caught in a storm in a tent the night before”.  I turned around only to see Jason and his family, our new friends from North Dakota that we camped next to.  What a small world… we were over a hundred miles from the camp and they had pulled up stakes that morning to head home by way of Wyoming.

“What an incredible Cinderella story!”… “Licensed to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations.”, Caddyshack’s, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) would have come unglued at the sight of the area leaving the monument. Hundred of prairie dogs infested the grounds with warning signs not to feed them.  The warning didn’t keep us from stopping and “shooting” them with a camera, nor did it stop them from coming right up to you to beg.  These little buggers had holes dug everywhere and kept popping up at random as far as the eye could see.

More Beautiful Views… On our trek back to camp, we took the Spearfish Canyon Highway route.  Once again we found ourselves looking up to some of the most beautiful bluffs and scenery we have ever seen.  At the end of this road was the town of Deadwood.  Besides the HBO TV series, Deadwood was best known as a gold rush town that saw the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.  Now, this clean looking town has lots of saloons and gaming establishments, but would justify further investigation at a later date… we were tired!

There’s Goats in Them There Hills… We didn’t see any gold but we did see the local heard of bighorn sheep just outside of Hill City.  Most of the sheep had collars around their necks, which I suspect is what set off the flashing lights on the highway when they get near.  This area is such a photo trap for us tourists, that they have paved “pull over” lanes to protect us from crashing into each other.  So after several hundred miles on the road, we arrived at the KOA to find that their workers had done an incredible job of rebuilding the roads from the prior storms.  With more bad weather forecast for the next afternoon, we decided that we should probably cut a day off of our stay in the Black Hills and head out early the next morning toward Oshkosh.  So we had a nice dinner at the camp restaurant, washed up some clothes and packed the car for an early departure…

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Awe Hail… Stormy Night in the Black Hills!

Sorry about the delayed posts... but, the weather was pretty bad and we found ourselves without internet access for most of the remainder of the trip and since we have been home, we have been caught up with catching up.  Trust me there was plenty to talk about, both from South Dakota and Wisconsin!

The night from hail… after we made the previous post about what we did on day one in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we decided to head into Hill City to get a quick bite to eat.  As we approached town, the clouds got darker and the rain started.  Beth said “Was that hail I heard”… “naww, it’s just raining hard”, I said… Oh well, in about 30 seconds, I was looking for a place to pull over to escape the ice falling from the sky.  We did find a parking lot that was slightly protected and luckily the hail ranged from pea to marble sized, so there was no damage to the rental car.  After sitting in the hail storm for well over 10 minutes, we decided to bypass dinner for now and go back to see if the tent was still standing after the rain settled down.

KOA, Washed away!…Wow, as we pulled into the campground, the second wave of rain hit us.  The hail from the previous wave was pilled up inches deep as we turned into the campground.  At this point, we just knew the tent was destroyed and all of our stuff was wet.  When we made it to the bottom of the hill where our tent was located, we were met with a wall of rushing water carrying sand and gravel and most of the road down from above… this made for VERY loose material to drive on and that is where we stopped moving!  Well crap… at least we were stuck right in the middle of the road, so the KOA folks would eventually have to

Big Agnes after “round one” with the elements…

come push us out – so we waited  – but, not for long.   Out of the woodwork, help came from every direction in the form of six or seven barefooted, kind-hearted souls who literally picked up the front of our underpowered rental tin can and moved us out of the loose sand and gravel.  In no time at all, we were liberated and moving up the hill again.

Best Tent Ever! (hold that thought)… So when we did make it up the hill, much to our surprise, the tent was still standing!  Our neighbor’s large “kitchen” tent had collapsed with broken poles and such but our Big Agnes was still alive.   After the rain stopped we went through all of our stuff in the tent and it was all still dry and in good shape.  A few minutes later our neighbors arrived to assess the situation and from the looks of it, their “sleeping” tent was OK too, but… it is starting to rain again!  So, to get out of the weather, all 6 of us pile into the Chevy Aveo for shelter.  It is amazing how much camaraderie there is among campers and folks that like the outdoors.  Our new friends from Bismarck, North Dakota had two great kids and were fun to visit with.  After this last small shower passed, Beth & I decided we would head back into town to eat.

Karaoke from hail…  We rolled into Hill City and found what kinda looked like a “Biker-Bar/Mexican Restaurant”.   Margaritas seemed to be in order for the two of us, along with some pretty good food.  As we were finishing off our meal, a guy came around and handed out the song books for “Talent Time” … yep, it was karaoke night!  While I have been known to partake in song, I think my lack of body “ink” and facial hair would set me apart from this crowd in a way that would keep me way away from the mic.  Luckily, there were many “takers” to provide entertainment and within minutes it got loud in the building, just not from music, yep, hail again!  Lighting was crashing, the power went off, boy is this fun… At this point all we could do was order another drink and think about what shape the tent might be in now and enjoy the entertainment.

Check out the short video below…

Best Tent Ever! (hold that thought again)… After dreading what we would see when we arrived at the campground near midnight, once again we were surprised to see our tent standing in the head lights and in good shape after surviving two torrential downpours with hail.  At this point our thoughts turned to our plane, which was sitting outside in the weather about 30 miles away at Rapid City.  Our hearts were sinking as we watched the storm on radar move over KRAP, but there was not anything we could do tonight, but ride it out and hope for the best.  Our plans now included heading straight to the airport the next morning to see how Caddie made it through the storms.  More to come in the next few days….

New Video…. made with our GoPro Camera!

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

Today in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Today was great…. Pancakes at the KOA for breakfast, Mt. Rushmore in the AM, the Needles Highway in Custer National Forest midday and Crazy Horse in the afternoon.

20120721-173230.jpg

20120721-173303.jpg

20120721-173336.jpg

20120721-173328.jpg

Got Out of Mississippi Just in Time!

First Stop KFLP… Well, we made it out before the storms hit the Jackson area and into Flippin before it started raining here. We started out from Raymond at 8500 feet and went to 10,500 and realized we could not get high enough to get over the buildups, so the last 30 minutes of the trip was “down and dirty” at 4500 over the Ozarks. The Foreflight screen shot below shows what it looked like about two hours after we landed:

20120719-171043.jpg

Clear Sailing, but HOT…  We should be out in front of all of the weather that will be affecting the south.  Tomorrow’s plan is to get up early and head to Grand Island, NE (KGRI) for gas and a stretch before the temps get so bad. Unfortunately, when we roll into Rapid City, it’s supposed to be 100+, but we should have clear skies most of the way. That’s all for tonight, we are in our “happy spot” in Arkansas with a nice bottle of wine and a cool place to sleep…

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 and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

%d bloggers like this: