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Copiah County Fly-in 2016

Beautiful Saturday to Fly…   Just a short post to show the video we made while at the Copiah County, MS Fly-In a few weeks ago.  We had a GREAT turn out with some really nice planes!  Good food, FAA Wings credit, cheap gas, and I found someone to buy my old magnetos… perfect day!

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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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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!

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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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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“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?”

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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…

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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…

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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…

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