AirVenture, Day 2.
I woke up across the room, having leapt there to answer the nerve-shattering wake-up call while still asleep. The calls are automated, rung with impertinent precision by some kind of PhoneBot, so my groggy attempts at "hello", "yes, I’m up, okay … ", and "thank you, I’ve got to go get ready now" fell on … well, no ears at all. Once I’d sorted out who I was and just what I stood for, the day began to improve.
I took the first hour off from the Flight Sim booth in order to see the ceremonial first use of a batch of computers that were donated to the EAA by our friends at Intel, with a bit of help from EAA’s friends, us. The machines are setup in the EAA’s Flight Simulator lab and are to be used to run FSX as part of a number of their educational programs for visiting students. Brett attended, as did Aces alum Roy McMillion, and we were joined before long by our friend Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, a consummate aviator whose bio makes me feel so terribly inadequate that I’m going to conveniently forget to mention it here. This will catch up with me shortly.
Here’s a look at some of the PC’s in action, being wrung out by a group of kids from all over the US who are attending the EAA Air Academy:
My time at the booth brought with it the usual series of conversations, questions, connections, interviews, and even a reunion or two. And then, having brought those things, it scampered off before anyone noticed.
In cruising around the grounds, we came across a newly-nearly-restored P-38 Lightning making it’s official first AirVenture appearance. I say nearly-restored because the finishing touch – the application of the "Ruff Stuff" nose art commemorating the airplane flown in WWII by Wisconsin native Norbert Ruff, was taking place right there on the field, in front of an audience.
The tour of the grounds also found a lovely Australian Tiger Moth, about which I waxed authoritative and rhapsodic, while people whose room and board is being charged to my credit card did a credible job of feigning interest. You can see me in action on Roy’s blog, specifically in this shot.
A bit later on we spent a couple of hours watching the airshow from the decadent comfort of the "flightline pavilion", a combination of air conditioned buildings, an outside seating area, free drinks, and two rows of chairs under an awning on top of a trailer. I stole about a half an hour from the show catching up and strategerizing with my friend Ron Kaplan, executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He apologized for the fact that my name was misspelled "Hall" in this year’s program, and he felt doubly bad when I told him that the surplus "L" had happened last year, as well. I told him that I’d let him get away with it if he simply renamed his organization the National Aviation Hal of Fame. It wasn’t all that funny then, either.
Later in the evening, after a premade-pulled-pork sandwich that actually had no discernible flavor whatsoever, we made our way to the so-called "Fly-In" theater, where the aforementioned "Snort" was going to be introducing the movie Top Gun. As it happens, Dale was an instructor at the titular school portrayed in the film (though, unlike Kelly McGillis’ character, he was a fighter pilot not an astrophysicist, so he actually had some useful information to pass along), and some of the broad character sketches of Tom Cruise’s Pete "Maverick" Mitchell character were based on him. We were sitting and waiting for the movie to start when Brett got a phone call, and ushered all of us into the VIP section of the screening. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that it was snapped during the scene when Goose ejects from the F-14 and, in a tragic miscalculation, is shot straight into the Sun:
From a practical standpoint, all this actually did was move us dramatically further from the screen, but the chairs were slightly more comfortable, and we were safely protected from the unwashed hordes of which we were so recently a part by a plastic picket fence. However, we were very well cared for and catered to, and I’m the first to admit that my vanity enjoys nothing so much as the chance to be on the other side of a fence from a lot of people. Besides, the company was good – Dale sat with us for a bit after he wrapped up his introduction of the film with a mention of the American Topgun Challenge, he gave a resounding plug for Flight Sim, and thanked us with considerable grace for attending. Getting a chance to talk to Francesco "Paco" Chierici and tell him exactly what we thought of his film Speed and Angels was an unexpected pleasure as well. (Note: we liked it.)
The contacts, the connections, the ideas, and the friendships continue to crackle and spark, and this was only day two, with five to go.
Oh, and a quick aside to Laurie Doering: In answer to your question, exactly what you’d think would happen at a Rubber Chicken party. And thanks for reading! 🙂