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.
See Spot Run… or better yet, see Paul & Beth fly! We have had our Spot Satellite Messenger in the plane since our first flight almost two years ago. While we rarely use the tracking feature, it is nice to have the peace of mind that we could get a message through to the authorities from a remote location if needed. This handy little device keeps up with where you are and has the ability to transmit your location automatically for tracking purposes or in the case of an emergency, we can push the red help button and the unit will contact search and rescue, giving them your exact coordinates for a speedy rescue. Spot’s website boasts almost 2,000 rescues initiated by the device with 314 rescues in 2012 alone. I hope we don’t need it, but like insurance, it is a good thing to have, especially since our trip will take us over “The Badlands” – not a place I want to spend much time in.
New “TRACK US” Link… If you’ll notice at the top of the page, I have put a “TRACK US” tab. This will take you directly to our Spot Messenger publicly shared page. I will “try” to remember to turn the unit on when we take off (yes, it is on the checklist) so that those interested can see where we are and where we have been. Just a note… if you see it just stop tracking in mid-air, don’t be alarmed, it runs on 3 little AAA lithium batteries that will die without warning and I do have a handful of replacements. I had hoped to embed the linked page into our site, but apparently WordPress does not allow embedded links due to web security concerns, so for now you will just have to hit the “TRACK US” link and be routed to Spot’s shared site.
The plane is packed… the GPS databases are updated, the oil has been changed and we are ready to go! Plans now are to leave after work on Thursday, weather permitting and fly to Flippin, AR and stay in the camper Thursday night. Friday morning, we will head to Rapid City, SD with probably one stop around Grand Island, NE for fuel and a potty break. After a few days tent camping in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore, we will head on over to Oshkosh to enjoy the rest of the week at AIRVENTURE! – can’t wait…
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.
Let the packing begin… We have started getting things ready for our annual trip to Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. For 5 years we pulled our camper for the 2,000 mile round trip to the mecca of aviation and last year we were able to fly our newly built RV-9A. This year we are planning a little “side trip” to the Black Hills area of western South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and the Custer National Forest.
Dining room table overload… So, about two weeks before we take a big trip, we start setting things on the dining room table, “so we don’t forget anything”. Yes, we do have a list, but this just seems to work well in organizing the packing. First a few towels and hats, then the sleeping bags, mats, tent, rain gear… you get the point. We figure, once the table is full, thats it – it probably will not fit in the plane! Luckily, most of the stuff we have is VERY light weight and we only carry five days worth of clothes since we plan to hit the laundry mat when we transit from Rapid City to Oshkosh. Our biggest issue is the volume of stuff that goes in the plane not the weight… the baggage area in a RV-9A is not very big!
Wall of Fire… Two years ago, while at Airventure, I took the short video below on my iPhone. It was very exciting and since it was the first night airshow at Oshkosh, I’m not sure any of us were prepared for what we saw – enjoy, and I apologize in advance for the “S” word and yea, I know I sound a little like Larry the Cable Guy…
Tracking our progress… In an effort to keep family and friends up-to-date with where we are and how things are going, I plan to put a link on the blog next week to our SPOT emergency locator tracking page. I just bought $20 worth of the required Lithium batteries to keep it going while we are moving around. We also plan to “live blog” with the iPhone & iPad and will try to push a few postcard pictures up when we get near some wifi. So, to keep up with the trip’s progress, please enter your e-mail address in the box to the right of the page or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica.
This Last Weekend… we wanted to make a short trip Saturday morning just to get in some flying because we were going to drive to Laurel Saturday afternoon and visit family for Father’s Day and attend a benefit for a friend who was hurt in a motorcycle accident. Friday night, while we were trying to decide on where to fly the next morning, I received an e-mail about a fly-in breakfast at the Concordia Parish Airport (0R4) in Vidalia, LA, just across the river from Natchez. We had been to their breakfast events sevreal times in the past and always enjoyed the food and fellowship, so this was a perfect trip that allowed us to get our flying “fix” for the weekend and get a great meal too.
Short Trip… Concordia is only about a 30 minute flight in the 9A, so we went “wheels up” at about 7:45 to be sure we were there by 8:30 when breakfast is served. As we arrived, we heard one plane in the pattern doing touch & go’s and several more in-bound for a meal. The usual “landing judges” were standing at the back door of the FBO building and greeted us as we climbed out of “Caddie”.
Great Food and Conversation… Turn out for this morning’s breakfast was a little light, but that did not stop Mike McCrory and crew from fix’n up a nice assortment of breakfast foods ranging from the usual biscuits, bacon and eggs to fancy wraps. Throw in some homemade jams and jellies, some STRONG Louisiana coffee and this was a diet busters delight. Of course, when more than one pilot enters a room, talk of all things aviation ensues. This has to be the best part about breakfast events like this, the sharing of information and stories will keep us coming back time and again.
“I’ll show you mine”… Soon after all of the bellies are filled, most folks walk out to admire each other’s planes and talk about Lycomings vs Continentals and fuel injection vs carburetors and any number of other “mechanical” topics. Some take advantage of the cheap fuel ($5.00 / gal) at the pump and others go on their way to their next stop for the day. We hopped in and “hot started” the fuel injected Lycoming and took off into the clouds, a little heavier and a lot happier that we had our flying “fix” for the day.
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Panoramic view at Concordia a few months ago when 12 RV’s were on the filed at once (click to enlarge)…
Air Festival… So we got up early Saturday morning to head to the Jennings, LA Airport (3R7) to fly into the Barnstormers Air Festival. We intended to be “wheels-up” at around 08:00 with us in “Caddie” and our friends Charlie & Tupper England in their RV-4, but the weather at the destination was 100′ and overcast. The forecast was for it to clear out to VFR around 10:00 or so, so we decided to wait around until about 09:30 to leave. After an hour & 15 minute flight down, we found some holes in the clouds to descend into Jennings. This is a BIG airport covering lots of acreage with two paved runways and one grass strip. Runway 13/31 was closed by NOTAM and was being used by the car show folks, so we landed on 08 and taxied into parking. After securing the plane and meeting up with Charlie & Tupper, we headed to show center to see the what there was to see. There were only a handful of airplanes at this time and most were “spam cans” with a few RV’s and other homebuilts. There was one food vendor and a lemonade stand next to a stage and that was about it for food. At noon or so, the band cranked up and they were very good. Unfortunately, they just did not have much of an audience to listen to what they were playing.
Cars, Cars, Cars… Lots of cars, I actually think there were more cars there than airplanes. There were a lot of good looking classic and antique cars along with several chopped up rods… There was plenty to look at and I took a bunch of pictures. But, after a couple of hours in the spring sun and not a lot of airplanes to look at, we decided to head back home. Charlie had told us about the Jazz Festival in Ridgeland, MS that was featuring some folks he was interested in hearing, so off we went…
Final Thoughts… While we were a little disappointed in the turnout at Jennings, it was understandable due to the low IFR conditions that plagued the area up until 10:00 AM. Most folks just aren’t going to file IFR to go to a casual Saturday event or “Scud Run” at 800 feet to get there. So, take a look at the car photos (click them for larger view) and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by entering your e-mail address in the box in the right hand column. You can also “Like” us on Facebook in the right hand column.