Saturday, August 2, 2014

Oshkosh 2014

After skipping OSH '11, '12, and '13, and figuring that there will soon come a day when Co-pilot Egg is no longer interested in doing things with her old Dad, I decided that we should go again. Fortunately I decided early enough to get some preparations done, having learned over the years what is and what is not important to bring along. I also figured that others would have also discovered the benefits of our special secret lodging in West Bend, so the first order of business was to make our reservations. That was back in April, and I got one of the last three available rooms.

With the idea of the trip on the back of my mind, I started acquiring things whenever I would run across them in the course of our normal shopping.  Most of this stuff was "impulse" buys from Wally Mart:
  • The backpack was a real find. It's just large enough to carry the bare essentials, and includes a 2 liter water pack. The blue hose is the drinking tube. I have not forgotten the miles long trek across the airport in hot summer weather just to get off the airport for a $1.00 bottle of water. In the event, I filled it with a bucket of hotel ice and a pint of water and it stayed frosty cold for the entire day.
  • The tripod was something I found while buying the Wifi router for Dad's Netflix-on-the-TV project. It's very, very light, and fits easily into a pouch on the backpack.
  • There are three 32GB memory cards in the little plastic box, all freshly formatted. 
  • There are two spray vials of sunscreen that I found in the Wally clearance aisle for $.30 each.
  • The ear plugs were intended for hearing protection during the Thunderbirds show, but will come in handy in many other ways.
  • There is a vial of sunscreen for Egg - she burns like dry tinder.
  • You can't see it, but a value size bag of beef jerky fits in there too.
  • And, of course, plenty of Schmetterling cards to hand out.

We have a choice of cars, in theory, but there was really only one that I wanted to take on a 500 mile drive.  And I wanted to be able to put the top down. That requires a strict 'pack small' strategy (which is not to be confused with 'pack light', as I was to learn) - we just barely got it all in there.

This is Co-pilot Egg three hours into the eight hour trip:

Three and a half hours:

Three hours, forty-five minutes:

She missed the halfway landmark:

We made it around Chicago by cleverly declining the Garmin Gal's suggestion of traversing The City via I-94 and using the I-294 bypass instead. The lengthiest delay was the minutes waiting in line at a toll booth while the oblivious woman in front of us tried to find a $1.50 in loose change rolling around on her floor mats. I was tempted to get out and pay the blasted toll for her.

Just across the Wisconsin border, we stopped for Egg's fave Wisconsin delight, deep fried cheese curds. It seems that they don't look the way she remembered them.

Here's a little something that I posted on Facebook when we got back:
The coolest, most memorable thing at Oshkosh 2014? Easily decided:

It was getting to spend four entire days with Erika Gamble, the most genetically predisposed person on the plant to share the entire gloriously wide spectrum of my sense of humor, who is now at age where we can make no holds barred, gloves off, anything goes, 'That's what he/she said' jokes.

By the last day, all one of us would need to is say "That's what" and the remainder was just assumed, although there were times when gender ambiguity in the opening led to spirited debates over whether it was "he" or "she" that was being quoted.
For those blessedly unaware of the nature of that type of puerile jocularity:
"Said the actress to the bishop" is an informal exclamation, said for humour in the form of a punch line after an inadvertent double entendre. The equivalent phrase in North America is "that's what she said".
I mention this now because, well, the gloves came off early. For example, she noticed a similarity in shape between one of her curds and a few bits of male anatomy that she commented on:

Oddly enough, there was no such comment about my repast.

This is the restaurant we were at - we chose it since it was pretty much named for her.

Did I mention that she is a huge fan of cheese curds? Well, I am too!  We were simply flabbergasted at what we called The Miracle Mile of Curds.

This is the panel of a factory-built RV-12. They do a great job!

I was mostly interested in seeing these new Dynon knob panels. They are primarily used for interfacing with the autopilot. I don't need the panel on the left, but I was very interested in the one on the right. It makes it much easier to adjust the altitude and heading that the autopilot is holding than diddling with the little multi-use joystick on the lower left of the main screen. It's not cheap, though - it's about $250.

Worth it, in my opinion, but still... I was still in the "thinking about it" phase.

At least until I stopped by the Dynon booth. Their booth is usually packed, but attendance seemed to be way down this year - there was very little crowding anywhere. That gave me a chance to ask about the new panel. The booth guy initially asked it I was interested in the new touch screen. I told him that I was not - my airplane bounces around a lot and it seems like a touch screen would be hard to use in rough air. He replied "that's why we left the knobs and buttons on it," to to which I replied, "Yes, and I already have those, I just want three more."

He proceeded to demonstrate just how wrong I was.  You will note that he went through it twice - I thought I had forgotten to hit the 'record' button the first time.

I was completely sold by that time. Had this been a product from Garmin, it would stop right there. Garmin is an extremely arrogant company, and they would think nothing of just leaving me behind as they upgraded the product line. Remember, it would have cost me $575 plus shipping just to have them look at my radio when I thought it was broken. That's roughly half the cost of the thing! Dynon will accept my old non-touch screen a a trade-in on a touch screen for $800.

I'm sorely tempted.

I also want to buy their ADSB unit in order to have weather and radar reporting in the plane. The guy went past it pretty fast, but you can see some of the weather stuff in the video.

One of the other fun things about Oshkosh is it allows you to consider future options. For example, I am very likely to move out of Ohio when I retire, and depending on where I go, I might want a different type of airplane. High on the 'maybe' list is the Searey:

There are usually a handful of military planes there, and they're pretty good about letting us tour through them. This is an Osprey from the US Marines fleet of cool toys:
The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, military, tiltrotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

I am quite proud of that picture; as part of my preparations, I broke down and bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements to replace the free version of Picasa that I have been using to edit photos for all of these years.

Here is the same picture from before I fixed it up in Photoshop:

More of the Osprey:

As I was touring one of the exhibition barns, I ran into a vendor that I have always been interested in: Skip Barber Racing School. Again, there was no crowd, so I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking to one of the both guys. I started off with an intriguing "Ah, I've driven hundreds of miles in one of these."  Which is only slightly true - I've driven hundreds of miles in a very accurate simulation of one. In fact, the sim in question is advertised by the decal on the side of the car right under the roll bar.

Pilots and racers have at least one thing in common: we talk with our hands. We were able to compare notes about various turns and a collection of tracks that we have both driven, him in real life and me on the computer. The sim is accurate enough that our experiences are nearly identical.

This is a video capture of one of my laps. The track is Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, one of my favorite tracks of all, and basically one of the home bases for the Skip Barber school.

This is the view from the driver's seat of the real car.

Eventually I wore out my welcome. Mostly, I suspect, from the shocked "not anytime soon, Bub" look on my face when I found out that a three-day school would cost a princely $3,200.

Egg had one job, and one job only: get some pictures of me sitting in the car since it is highly unlikely that I will ever be able to afford allowed to take the class.

Yet again, I learn the lesson of leaving her unchaperoned with my camera.

As I was standing there talking to the sales guy, I glanced over and saw an opportunity to gain a little more standing in our relationship of wannabe vs. accomplished racer.

Page 92, baby, page 92.

Egg was getting tired by then, and the best place on the whole airport to have a rest is the museum. We were close enough to walk, so I was able to get a nice picture of one of the airshows within the airshow.

Dinner was with The Jackson Two and their entourage. This is our usual place: the Riverside Brewery. It's right on the bank of the Milwaukee River. I know this as a fact certain now - the first time I said it, a woman at the table next to us corrected me by saying that it was unlikely to be the Milwaukee River because Milwaukee is miles east of West Bend.

I postulated that perhaps the Milwaukee River takes a bend to the west....

It does.

On the second day, we went to another of the airshows within the airshow.

The little tripod was really coming in handy!

Here is another Searey. My desire to build one increases incrementally every time I see one.

I actually sprung for the $100 to ride in one back in 2009:

Can you see the appeal?

Something like this would work too, but there is just something about a true flying boat...

I wouldn't need to build it - you can buy one already built. And if I wanted to go back to a non-Experimental for some reason, I could also look at the Lake Buccaneer, the benefit of which would be having four seats:

I couldn't decide which picture I liked better, so you get both:

On the way back to the main show, we took our traditional main gate picture.

Five years ago:

Oh, an alternative LSA seaplane!

The weather started getting bad - a number of thunderstorms would be passing through.

Talk about being prepared!! She had fingernail polish all ready to go at a moment's notice. Remember how I said that packing small is not the same as packing light?

There was a break in the rain, so we looked at a few more airplanes before heading out to dinner.

It was something of a plague dinner. First came the high winds - that had the staff scurrying around taking down the umbrellas and collecting the napkins from the tables. Then there was a sudden swarm of gnats (I had bug spray!), and finally...

Remember how I said that there would be a number of thunderstorms passing through?


Plus hail. That, at least, solved the gnat problem.

Everything got drenched, including the food. It was disastrous for my pizza, but the folks having seafood said it made it taste even fresher. My biggest disappointment was that I couldn't dry off the table with a nice piece of sponge cake [rimshot].

We left the next morning. The drive back was a bit more hectic, but we did pretty good on gas mileage:

I love that car!

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