Oshkosh Day Three, Corn Roast!

The weather couldn’t be any better here this week, highs in the mid 70s and no real rain yet. We have walked  a lot and still only covered a portion of the show. The pedometer on my phone has me at over 20,000 steps Per Day since we have been here. We partied with the warbird group last night at SwampFest, thanks to Dan Fordice and crew and just finished some great roasted corn at homebuilt camping (only in Wisconsin).  At 8:00 tonight is the mid week night airshow… Probably the best event here!
Half way through Airventure and all things are well in Oshkosh!

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Oshkosh Day One – Best Porta-Potti Day!

Waked up to reveille
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from the nearby warbird  camping at 0630.  Temperatures are in the mid 50s and the Porta-Pottis are in the best shape they will be all week! With the smell of coffee in the air at the homebuilt camping area, we stopped for a cup and headed to see the powered parachutes at the ultralight area before the winds pick up. The P51s are cranked and the Aeroshell T-6s are in the air, let the show begin!

The Big BS Theory

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By Beth Hardy Duff

I think the highlight of my day today was when Paul began to explain how the bumble bee was responsible for the invention of Velcro! And that it was NASA that did the study! This all stemmed from a story on the radio (live radio, I might add – during the Trading Post segment. The Trading Post which died away everywhere else at least 30 years ago is alive and well in Arkansas). We don’t miss it when we’re here. Anyhow…when one guy explained to the other that the bumble bee was actually covered with hair. Not just his legs, but his “rear end” – as the polite Arkansan stated on the radio. I looked at Paul and said,”Ah, the unknown virtues of the hairy butted bumble bee”. If you know Paul, this is all it took as the blossoming and weaving of the story of the discovery and invention of Velcro by NASA using the bumble bee grew to enormous proportions. I looked over at my husband of 31 years to declare “bulls**t magnifique” and he could hardly contain his laughter. I told him he got an A+ for effort as it has been a long while since he had taken the time and effort to create the total bs explanation! This is one reason life has been so interesting for 31 years and absolutely why I will go to Oshkosh, WI for s 7th time and spend an entire week sleeping on the ground in a tent beside our airplane for a week. It’s because after that long, we still sincerely enjoy each others’ company and enjoy the same things in life in the same manner. I truly would wish this part of my life on everyone I know! It’s been a wild and wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend!!

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Sunset Cruise / Oshkosh via Arkansas

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Our original plan… was to start our Oshkosh trip on Friday afternoon by heading to the camper in Arkansas for a couple of days, but the weather forecast for for Friday didn’t look very good. With this front coming in it could have delayed us several days, so we decided to get out in front of the weather and get to Arkansas Thursday night.

You wanna do what?… My phone call to Beth on the way home from work Thursday was interesting. “I think we can be packed and on the way to the airport in an hour” I said… I detected a hint of skepticism in her voice… “So you want to pack and leave tonight?” “Yep”, I said, “If we hurry, we can be on the ground by 9:00 pm in Flippin”. Beth has never been one to back down from a challenge, so by the time I got home she was ready and all I had to do was throw 10 days worth of t-shirts and tighty-whitys in my stuff sack and we were on our way!

Perfect Flight – See photo above… this was a great sunset flight. We touched down at KFLP at about 9:05, cranked “Jane” and headed to the camper to get the AC turned on. Sure enough, as forecast, the weather moved into north Arkansas about 9 am and by the time we would have left Friday it was a real mess, see photo below…

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Fixed the Hooter Valve… Since we were a late arrival in Flippin, we decided to go to the airport and put the plane in a hangar before the weather came through Friday. After this was done, we took Jane back to the repair shop to have her defective “hooter valve” replaced… Long story, but she now runs much quieter!

As we drove by Dally’s fly shop, we saw our buddy Ron’s truck and stopped by to visit. After an hour of catching up and buying a few flys and tying supplies we had a plan to fish in the am. So, our plan now is to visit the Norfork in the morning to fish and head to Oshkosh on Sunday, the weather looks great there and we can’t wait!

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Packing for Oshkosh 2013 & Where have we been?

By: Beth Hardy Duff

FIRST DAY OF THE BRITISH OPEN… (okay, sooo…)  It is Thursday, late afternoon on July 18th.  We are sitting in front of the TV watching the recap of the first day of the British Open.  The weather there looks to have been pretty good for the first round.  Exceptionally good… as opposed to our own weather in Madison which was host to the Sanderson Farms Championship.  It treated our entrants and spectators to a spectacular display of Mississippi weather in July at its finest.

EARLIER IN THE DAY…  When I finally crawled out of bed this morning and went outside to complete a long put-off chore of cleaning out the gutters on the back of the house, it was as oppressive and humid as Junior Samples’ shorts!  I got the ladder up and dug out all sorts of dirt, leaves, shingle dust and the occasional displaced skinks.  All finished, I swept off the 50 pounds (or so it appeared) of stuff I had pulled out of the gutter and sacked it up for the “garbage fairies” to haul off.  Garbage Fairies are my term for the garbage men who come to my house on Mondays & Thursdays and magically make my garbage disappear…. I LOVE them!

Shortly thereafter, it began to thunder, then it rained, then it poured.  I LOVED the fact that the deck was getting a freebie wash-job and that the gutters were operating correctly and getting a great hosing out.  As I turned my back, a bolt of lightning plunged into the ground somewhere very close and I ducked and almost ran for cover.  This continued on long after the rain ended providing a special viewing of Mississippi lightning in July in the daytime.  Those imported spectators visiting our area were now fully versed in the bizarre weather Mississippi can sport and probably headed straight to Wal-Mart to replace their now soiled undies!

So after that, I went back to the TV… I planned to watch the day’s recap of the Sanderson Farm Championship, however, there wasn’t much to show as the rain and lightning scared off everyone including the Golf Gods and forced not just a “rain delay”, but a “rain postponement til the next day”.  Better luck tomorrow, guys.

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Miaow helping Paul with weather planning…

WHERE ‘YA BEEN?  You haven’t heard much from us in a long time and it’s not because we have forgotten about you or have abandoned the blog.  Frankly, we had no idea that anybody really REAALLLY paid that much attention to us….but we found out differently!  Recently, everywhere Paul and I have been, one or both of us have been politely chastised for being so delinquent in our writings.  If we didn’t run into you telling us this, we actually got emails from you!  What a boon to our egos!  You like us!  YOU REALLY DO LIKE US!!  (Move over, Sallie Field, we’re good too!)  So, we will try to do better.  We have both endured our fair (and very unfair) share of family sicknesses and woes over the past several months and that does a lot to kill the flow from the writer’s fingers.  It just doesn’t flow at all.  A couple of weeks ago, Paul mentioned that he intended to sit down & write a few things for the blog and that he sat at his computer, fingers poised and nothing….just nothing happened.  Nothing except Miaow hopping into his lap and loving on him as she has learned to do when I’m gone.  She has quickly become Paul’s cat as I am no longer her favorite.  She’s Daddy’s girl and she knows it and plays it to the hilt.  Perhaps she has forgotten who feeds her, changes her litter, bought her the $30 S-Curve upholstered cat recliner and a zillion dollars’ worth of assorted toys.  When I do come home, she twines around my ankles until I pick her up and then she bites me in a somewhat playful and somewhat Freddy Kruege-like manner.  Somehow, Ialways forgive her.

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Where are ya’ll going now??

PACKING FOR OSHKOSH…  While I was at my parents’ house, tending to them, I asked Paul if he would start getting out stuff for OSH and just put it on the dining room table.  He said he’d be glad to.  In fact, it was exciting to think of packing up for our annual fun cross-country trip and would help get his mind off things too.  When I finally got home, dead on my feet, I expected to come in to a view of the tent, sleeping bags and other assorted stuff piled high in the middle of the dining room table.  Instead, I caught sight of the paperback Notam and a single sheet report from AV Lab of our oil analysis and that was all…except cat hair and dust.  I asked what happened and I never got a real precise answer other than, “I wasn’t sure where the tent and sleeping bags were”, “Uh, I never got a good start on it”, “Uh, well, I needed your help.”  For all you other married pilots out there, number three is the proper answer.  After 31 years of marriage, floundering around until you cough up, “Uh….I needed your help” or something related to this greatly aids your case immensely.  All is instantly forgiven and packing immediately gets underway.

More to come as we continue to pack this week.

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Off To Houma, LA

Track us today… to the Cajun Fly-in in Houma, LA. Details are here: http://www.eaa.org/calendar/eventdetail.aspx?id=12383

Click here to track or the “Track Us”  link at the top of the page.  We hope to have some photos later in the week.

Plan B… No, Make it Plan C

Plan A… Yesterday we had signed up for the civilian fly-in at the Columbus Air Force Base.  We had our standard government paperwork filed to land at CAFB and we were excited about spending the day around the jets on base and spending some time in the simulators. The weather was looking good until we arrived at the Raymond Airport to depart… heavy fog.  We waited as long as we could for it to clear, but no luck and our time ran out.  In order to land at CAFB, we had a designated slot time for arrivals and if we were not “wheels up” by 0715 from Raymond, we would not make the slot.  At this point we threw up our hands and drove to Starbucks for coffee and a muffin and to come up with Plan B.

Plan B…  One of the things you learn as a pilot is to always have an alternate plan.  Our Plan B, was to go to the fly-in and camp out down at Pineville, LA (2L0) and check out the planes and eat lunch.  We have been to Pineville for their monthly breakfast several times, but not to the fall fly-in.  I started looking at the weather south of here only to see that it was still socked in near Pineville.  1/2 mile visability and 200 foot ceilings still  plagued south Louisiana, so we decided to rub on the plane for a while until the weather broke at our destination.  2 hours later and a call to the automated weather system at Alexandria confirmed the poor computer reports… It’s still low IFR.  Now we are getting stir crazy and ready to go somewhere.

Plan C…  We had been invited to fly to Starkville with some friends to watch Mississippi State play Tennessee, but had decided that flying home after an 8:00 game was not for me.   But, this is the south and 90% of the fun of college football is the pre-game campus environment.  So, Plan C turned out to be flying to Starkville, MS (KSTF), eat lunch at our old favorite place, Oby’s, and walk campus before the game.  This was perfect, after a great lunch, we spent some time shopping in the book store, visiting the Student Union, watching other college games on various TV’s and tailgating with friends.  After walking miles and covering the beautiful MSU campus we flew home to just in time to catch our Bulldogs on ESPN.

#HAILSTATE…  After waking up at 0500, this had been a long day… We were tired, but wide awake in front of the TV until 2330 when our beloved MSU Bulldogs defeated The Tennessee Volunteers 41 to 31.  Our now 15th ranked Bulldogs are 6 & 0 for the first time in many years and should be 7 & 0 when they roll into Tuscaloosa on the 27th of October to play the #1 ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama – GO DAWGS!

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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?

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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…

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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!

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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.

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