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.
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.
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.
“LIKE US”… if you have not done so yet, please go to our Facebook page and click “LIKE” – THANKS!
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!
“LIKE US”… if you have not done so yet, please go to our Facebook page and click “LIKE” – THANKS!
By Beth Hardy Duff
HOME, SWEET OSH, HOME… So arrive at Oshkosh, we did. In perfect RV style, packed to the hilt with our belongings, looking somewhat like Santa’s red & white sleigh. We followed our guide to our appointed spot and parked Caddie. Great spot this year, we thought to ourselves – on a slight incline so no rainwater would pool up beneath our tent and very close to the road making for an easy taxi out when it’s time to go home. We hopped out and quickly snugged Caddie to the ground with our trusty “Claw System” (don’t leave home without it) and began to set up our Big Agnes tent. We had purchased Big Agnes just for tent camping with the plane in mind – she’s a big, roomy tent with plenty of headspace – enough for Paul to stand and just enough room for the two of us (Big Agnes is considered a 6 man tent) and weighs less than 13 pounds. Awesome tent! We got the tent all set up and headed to registration to pay our tent camping fee and to register. Within 15 minutes, we ran into two of our hangar buddies from home, Tom and Webb. They had gotten here earlier in the week and looked and sounded like they were having a blast! We chatted for a minute and headed on, so much to see and do and oh so glad to be back here again. The afternoon passed by quickly and we began to meet some of our new neighbors. Mel and Taylor, a father and son team who had flown in from Colorado. They were cattycornered across from us and quickly became two of our newest favorite friends, such great people! We, ourselves, were sandwiched in between a white Velocity and a blue and white RV-10, not too shabby company either. As it got close to dinnertime, we met up with some more folks from home and headed over to the Charcoal Pit for dinner. Everyone was having a great time at AirVenture, but most were planning to head back tomorrow being that they had gotten there much earlier in the week than us. Not us, our fun was just beginning…
5150, SOMEBODY CALL THE POPO!… Our first night at OSH, a great dinner had been had by all and now it was time to go night night…or so we thought. About 3:00am or so, Paul and I were awakened by the most terrible racket! We sat up and struggled out of our zippered sleeping bags and unzipped the opaque part of the back of our tent. We rubbed our eyes and stared into the darkness. It sounded like someone banging a Port a Potty door, shortly followed by a LOT of yelling and hollering! A young man apparently high on “something” was standing on top of another guy’s AIRPLANE and screaming not just gibberish, but was on some sort of wild rant about “sustainable development”. Now how does that topic grab you at 3:00am in the morning?? The owner of the plane bolted out of his tent yelling, “Stop It, Stop It, GET DOWN” and jumped the guy standing on his airplane knocking him to the ground. The young man on the ground was very strong and it was hard for the plane’s owner to hold him down. Thankfully, a LOT of help ran to his aid and helped subdue the assailant until more help could arrive. First, Grounds Security showed up on 4 wheelers and flashing lights, then the police showed up along with the K-9 unit shortly followed by an ambulance. He was still thrashing about on the ground with 3 or 4 big men sitting on him and his utterings eventually became x-rated. The paramedics finally injected him with something that didn’t knock him out, but slowed him to the point they were able to get him strapped to a gurney and hauled away. Eventually, everyone finally settled down. We found out later on that the young man was high on bath salts which caused his delirium. Hopefully, that night ended his career of experimenting with them, although, I’m sure his troubles didn’t end there, with his visit to the local hospital and the fact that there was a certain amount of damage done to the owner’s airplane. SHEW, that over, we re-zipped our tent and went back to sleep.
CAN I HAVE IT? CAN I HAVE IT? CAN I HAVE IT?… Wednesday morning rudely rolled around, after we finally got back to sleep Tuesday night. We were ready to start out the day by looking at all there was to see in the newest crop of “airplanes and airplane accessories”. We spent part of the morning strolling though Van’s display and their new announcement – the RV-14. If we had not already built our beloved RV-9A and were still looking for the perfect airplane, this one would have been it! A Lycoming IO-390 (210 hp engine) as opposed to our 160 hp, the ability to hold 50 gallons of fuel as opposed to our 36 gallons, had a little larger baggage capacity and area (maybe those golf clubs would actually FIT in this one) and not that this was a must, but it was aerobatic! Hmmm….for a brief second or two, Paul and I began to drift off into the dream world of breathing life into yet another airplane. We had enjoyed building over those 3 years and had made mention of the fact that both of us did miss the process some. At times, it had become rather Frankenstein-ish, but it was overall a fun and exciting adventure. HOWEVER, snap back to reality – we absolutely do NOT have the funds to start this again without selling our “first born beloved” and I absolutely will NOT give up the ability to fly just to have another airplane ready in “a few years”. NO! We both looked at each other, more or less shook ourselves back into “now-time” and completely agreed that we were most happy exactly where we are in life right now with our “completed” airplane and things will just stay that way…for now. BTW, thankfully Webb and Tom both lost their bets that we would have the tail section to a brand new RV-14 ordered before we left OSH – give us credit, guys, we have some restraint (but mostly, lack of money)…
CAN YOU HEAR THE WIND BLOW?… Wednesday afternoon, found us strolling around looking at some of the vintage warbirds. We always enjoy seeing these old beautiful birds that people love enough to maintain in excellent form and fly them to AirVenture – the “Mecca for all things Aviation”. The wind was beginning to kick up a good bit and the forecast called for bad weather that afternoon. The wind had already removed my hat from my head twice. Thankfully, I was wearing my “fishing hat” which has a chin strap that kept it with me (I promise, it’s not quite as “gooberish” as it sounds). Anyhow, Paul got a call on his cell and looking down, didn’t recognize the number right off hand. He answered and someone with the grounds crew at Oshkosh had called to let us know that our tent had blown down and we might want to go back and tend to it. Apparently, the winds had gotten a lot worse over on that side than where we had been. Thankfully, it never rained that afternoon, it just blew. We walked back toward the plane and immediately noticed that we could see the tail of our plane, but could no longer see Big “Tall” Agnes standing. When we got there, Agnes was lying in a pitiful heap on the ground with a broken tent pole staring us in the eye through a newly poked hole in the rain fly. We picked her back up, looked her over, and really, very little harm was done. The tent was still just fine, only one broken tent pole and a “somewhat” minor hole in the rain fly. Our good neighbor, Taylor, helped us by locating some duct tape and helped us mend Big Agnes and her broken tent pole back into an acceptable position and she was deemed good to go again. I talked to Taylor for quite some time and found out he was a remarkable young man and just as easy and fun to talk to as anyone I’d ever met. I told him about meeting Brittany, the beautiful young pilot and her grandfather on our stop in Mankato and Taylor told me I needed to find her and let her know he was available! So, Brittany, if you are checking out our blog, let me highly recommend chatting with Taylor (if you are not already taken) because I think you two would be a perfect match! You have TONS in common!!! Now, Taylor, I have fulfilled my duty and done what I can, the rest is up to you!
STAR WARS ON THE HUDSON… Wednesday night came and we attended the EAA Chapter President’s Reception hosted by Ford Motor Company. This year’s special guest was George Lucas – yes, THE George Lucas! Jeff Skiles was also there as one of the Young Eagles Co Chairmen – you’ll remember him as Chesley Sullenberger’s co-pilot from “Miracle on the Hudson”. So the night was full of fame, food and fun. We ran into our dear friend, Steve, from home and spent quite some time chatting and sweating with him as it was as hot as a Mississippi night in July in Wisconsin that night.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2… “Where’s the tent?”
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.