Oshkosh UCAP*

Sunday, July 25: Buffalo to Brevoort.

We rolled out of Sanborn, New York, in a small convoy. Wayne, his cousin Joel, and I had the fifth wheel on the left. Pete Smith, his dad Bill, and Al the Rocket Scientist were in the big rig in the middle. Andy, Michelle, Emily (age 5), and Elly (age 2.5?) were in the camper on the right.

The weather going and returning couldn't have been better--severe clear. It was great to have a restroom and refrigerator with us at all times. While wading in the lake at Camp Brevoort, Emily told her grandfather, Wayne, that this was the best thing she had ever done.

Tuesday, July 27: Greeting Planes

There was some snafu with the volunteer work that our team was supposed to do, so I joined the EAA and paid for admission to the show. On the way in, I saw a recruitment shack for volunteers, so I signed up to greet airplanes. I spent three hours up on the northern side of the E-W runway. I may have greeted five or six planes--attendance was way down, according to everyone but the press officers for EAA. They told me that last year's rains were horrific. I'll bet that scared a lot of people away. And when it rains, EAA doesn't issue any rain checks.

This is Patty Wagstaff's Extra. I've got a 25% semi-scale RC model of it:

I watched the airshow from the shade of a sign near center stage. I alternated napping and paying attention.

This is one serious bush plane. The photo does not do justice to the size of those tundra tires:

The Griz, designed by Burt Rutan:

Wednesday, July 28: Classic Point

I was eager to get started on our volunteer work, so I rambled off into the Vintage aircraft area, where the guys had told me our office was located. I arrived just in time to take the 9 AM training class for the Vintage Aircraft Association. Then I got assigned to Classic Point, where Arlo was letting a couple of pilots give rides in his Lockheed 60. I was one of the lucky few who got to take the tour!

Back on the ground, I signed out a brand-new Honda scooter and started learning how to guide planes to their parking spaces. I just followed at a safe distance behind the planes and watched the veterans do their job.

After three hours on the scooter, I was sent out to the flight line to do security during the airshow. This meant that I had one of the best seats in the house--fifty feet in front of the crowd and perhaps fifty feet from the taxiway.

Mary Dilda in the Two of Hearts. She races at Reno and does a very graceful aerobatic routine.

The Masters of Disaster: loud, smoky, explosive:

Thursday, July 28: Flightline Safety

During my nine-hour shift with Vintage Aircraft, I realized that none of my buddies were showing up--I had reported to the wrong office! I got better directions this morning and found the Flightline Safety shack. It is located in the Vintage area, but is not part of Vintage operations. <sigh>

Flightline Safety has cooler scooters than the Vintage volunteers. They're bigger, heavier, and have got a fuel gauge. I worked for three or four hours; a storm came along and soaked me, so I checked out, went back to the RV, got into clean, dry clothes, and napped until the Masters of Disaster woke me up.

There are at least 60 chopped VWs at the airshow. This is the granddaddy of them all, driven only by Paul Poberezny. I caught a glimpse of it a few times while I was there.

Friday, July 30: 16 Miles on a Scooter

Here's our camp site. I wish I'd gotten a better shot of the pink flamingos, Wayne's RV mascots:

You may notice three or four wine bottles on the table. They're from Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, run by Pete Smith and some partners. Pete brought along a case of his wines to share with folks. NLWC has got about 150 acres of grapes growing next to Smith Field, an airstrip run by his dad in Cambria, New York, at the foot of the Niagara escarpment (pictured in the logo below). Pete says he's made some sacramental wine, so I may sample some of that some day.

I worked for seven hours on Friday. My scooter had 14 miles on it when I started and 30 when I was done. I didn't take my camera with me--my bad!

A 2005 Ford GT raced aerobatic aircraft every day. It generally held its own. They say that a factory stock GT is capable of 200+ mph right out of the box.

Saturday, July 31: On the Road Again

On Friday evening, Wayne, Joel, and I decamped and drove over to Wayne's brother's farm, where we had an outstanding Rivers family reunion with a fabulous pot-luck dinner. Wayne had provided us with redneck gourmet meals all week (the best grits by far that I have ever tasted), but the family pot-luck took our dining experience to a whole new level. I gave my talk on my search for the bones of Amelia Earhart for the third time this week. I finally wrassled my projector into submission and Jeanette found a great screen for us to use, so it was the best night of the three for me. More importantly, Jeanette let me use her washer and drier to clean my clothes. That is camping heaven as far as I'm concerned.

On Saturday morning, I tried to learn how to throw a lasoo. Just getting the thing coiled is a skill all in itself, let alone whirling it and getting it over the plastic cow head on a bale of hay. Once in a while, I'd catch a horn, but most of my throws were laughable in the extreme. The real cowboys at the farm made it look so easy!

Our camper suffered a blowout while we were retracing our steps through Michigan's upper peninsula. Traffic was moving slowly beside us, so I had time to grab my camera and catch a shot of this passing car. I only had time to tell them what a beautiful car it was before they drove away, so I didn't get any details on it.

Sunday, August 1: Home

When I got back to Buffalo, I had about 750 e-mails in my inbox, poorly sorted because of an upgrade in the College's e-mail system. I didn't see any Internet Cafes at the airshow. Other than that, I've got no complaints. It was a splendid trip!

*UCAP: "Up Close and Personal" (an ABC coinage, I think). Folks from rec.autos.sports.nascar and rec.autos.sports.nascar.moderated are supposed to write UCAPs when they attend a race.