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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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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.

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

By Beth Hardy Duff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And as always… You can subscribe to our blog by entering your  e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica and now you can “TRACK US” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page.

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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Playing with our New GoPro Video Camera Today

Kirby Chambliss @ the GoPro Booth

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

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

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

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Mercedes Benz?? Best Airport Crew Car EVER!

Flying for work… One of the perks of my job is having the ability to fly to our distant locations when needed. Flying the RV-9A actually burns less gas than my Dodge and when  I can avoid the cost of an overnight stay its a win-win for me and the company. This was the case earlier this week, when I needed to do some work at our location near Bay St. Louis , MS.  This is nearly a seven hour round trip drive that could be made in Caddie in about 50 minutes, one way, and the Stennis International Airport (KHSA) is just a couple of miles away.  All I needed now was a ride to the plant…

I’ll take the Mercedes… Since renting a car would defeat the justifiable savings of being able to fly, I usually try to get a local employee of ours to pick me up or secure a crew car.  So, I called the local FBO at Stennis (MILLION AIR), and asked if they had a crew car that I could use.  “Yes Sir, we do…” the young lady said, so I gave her my tail number and told her when we would be there.  Upon arrival at Stennis, we taxied to the ramp area, topped off the left tank (all of about 8 gallons)and proceeded inside to pick up the car. After photocopying my license she tossed me the key… well, not exactly a key, but a big plastic thing that had Mercedes written on it.  “It’s the black E350 just out the door” she said … WOW, I’ve had crew cars from a Jeep Cherokee with the rear window taped up to retired police cars to a new bright yellow Camaro (KJKA), but I’ve never been offered a Benz.

NO PReNDLe… OK, “you know you’re a red neck when…” you can’t get the car in gear.  We built our own airplane, wired the all glass – high tech panel and fly it all over the country, but put me in a car without a gear shift and i’m lost.  There was no standard gear shift with the normal PRND12 symbols – aka “PReNDLe”, instead there was a “little shifter like thingy” that you pushed forward to go into reverse and pulled back to go forward (German engineering at its best).  I did finally get the car going in the right direction without taking out the chain-link fence around the airport and the ride to work was great.  This is a very nice car that had a real smooth ride and nice high tech gadgets in the panel.

After a successful trip to our plant, we returned to the FBO and pulled out our snack lunch and enjoyed our meal in front of the big screen TV.  The folks at the FBO were very nice and the fuel prices were reasonable at around $5.70 a gallon.  The airport has a nice big runway for the area we were in in Mississippi.   At 8500 feet long by 150 feet wide, they can handle all sorts of large aircraft.  Being an old “space nut” I may bring us back to visit the Stennis Space Center which is only a few miles down the road and maybe even get another ride in the Benz…

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