AirVenture – The Drive Home

This is a regular blog post. Links to show notes and show audio appear in the other posts.

We broke camp yesterday, took a walk down the main drag at AirVenture 2008, and then hit the road for home. Just before breaking camp, I got this shot of skywriting over Firebase Airspeed (the green and grey tent, the back of which appears here).

It had not occurred to me that I have been to Oshkosh three times and had not yet gotten any cheese curds. So I picked up some at the Planeview convenience store. Actually, a combo pack of cheddar cheese curds, string cheese, and sausage. Wisconsin in a plastic bag. The only thing missing from the bag was some 100LL. 12 oz. of artery-clogging goodness!

I’m constantly struck by the fact that dumbasses ride motorcycles around in Wisconsin and in other states with no helmets. I hope there’s a statutory exclusion from state Medicaid for morons who become vegetables because they can’t be bothered to wear a brain bucket.

Best vehicle seen on the way home? Easy call. This guy with the Kiss solo album cover series on the back of his Chevy Trailblazer. The Kiss Army is alive and well in Wisconsin!

About nine hours on the road. Cole stayed awake until about a half hour before home. He didn’t start asking about time to destination until about three hours out. Better than some adult passengers, I’ll bet.

10 Minutes at Oshkosh

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Another one in the series of soundscapes that many ignore (ant that’s fine and dandy), but that so many listeners seem to love. This is 10 minutes of the sounds of a walk from the big arch at the entrance to the airshow down to AeroShell Square. Cole gets a frozen strawberry Chill and we eat it in the shadow of a fighter jet.

That simple, really. Just a walk down the main drag at Oshkosh. Enjoy!

AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 – Day 2 – Part 2

This is a regular blog post, but you can listen to the episode that we recorded last night at Firebase Airspeed at

Spent a lot of time at KidVenture with Cole and got our annual Bell 47G helicopter ride. Great weather for it. And one of the best places at AirVenture to kick up your feet. The scenery beyond them is truly cool!

Here’s the obligatory shot in the chopper. Whereas Cole hat some trepidation about crawling in last year, this year, he just scampered in with no problem. He was also heads-up and eyes-out the whole time and seemed to enjoy the ride a lot. I interviewed one of the volunteer pilots for EAA Radio and the sound quality was a lot better than I expected it to be considering that he was fairly soft-spoken and we had a helicopter landing outside the hangar every two or three minutes as we recorded.

One of the Volunteer helicopter pilots with the show grounds in the background. These guys fly a full of gas (about 1.5 hours) before taking a break. The EAA owns one of the choppers and the other two are leased. No problem with takeoff and landing currency for these guys. Assuming a six-hour flight-duty day, each probably gets something like 60 takeoffs and landings a day. But nobody seems to be counting.

Cole with Jackie the Koala Bear waiting for the helicopter flight.

I had Jason Miller, Rod Rakic, and Kent Shook, as well as others, to Firebase Airspeed last night to play a little guitar, sing a little, and record an episode. Actually, the episode was a little spur-of-the-moment and occurred somewhere between beers. Jason also recorded for his show and was kind enough to pass the phone around and let Rod, Kent, and I hold forth on how AirVenture is going.

Rod Rakic got to plug’s beta a couple of times, which is great. The site is going to go huge when it launches. The community is already 130+ strong, and it’ll grow exponentially soon. I try to contribute often.

I think Jason has arrived at the pinnacle of early-21st-century rock stardom. Where Peter Frampton and Lemmy merely autographed fans’ body parts backstage, Jason transcended celebrity last night by recording the outgoing messages on two fans’ mobile phones. Jason Miller joins NPR’s/Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s Carl Kasell in the new elite!

Listen to the audio at

Stay tuned!

AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 – Day 2 – The F-22

This is a regular blog post. Please check the other posts if you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio.

The F-22 Raptor took to the skies at Oshkosh yesterday and it was a really great demonstration. I understand that airspace restrictions required that the team perform only a part of the usual demo, but the flying I saw (and heard!) was pretty impressive. The sound is reminiscent to me of the F-14 Tomcat. You get a little rocket-style crackle in the thunder and I’ve always been a fan of that.

Here’s a pass with the weapons doors open. Part of the F-22’s stealth comes from the fact that all of the weapons are internal t the fuselage. That also makes it a pretty big aircraft (weapons take up space), but it still manages to have a gnat’s-ass radar signature. A ghost in plain sight.

Here’s a shot of the heritage flight with Dale Snodgrass at the controls of the P-51 Mustang.

AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 – Day 1 – Part 2

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or show audio? Please check out the other posts.

This shot isn’t particularly well-composed or in focus, but I think I like it. The Harrier demo is usually among the loudest at AirVenture. Here it is hovering in front of the crowd and there’s this guy with his fingers in his ears. Okay, maybe I’ve blown out my ears with too much rock and roll, but I come here for the noise. Maybe it’s that this guy visually tells the story and gives the photo the noise element that the visual aspect can’t. Anyway, I like it.

I’ve seen Gene Soucy three or four times and, much as I continue to expect that some other aircraft is going to thrill me more, Gene’s ShowCat is just phenomenal every time. I saw him perform at Battle Creek in 2006 with a 1,000-foot ceiling – one of the few acts that could or did go up that day. Flying his heart out in a machine that made really wonderful noises and that is featured on the “Shut Up and Listen to the Airplanes” episode.

I also love that he turns toward the crowd to give you angles like the ones in these pictures. And either his smoke generator is oversized or he’s flying more slowly. Either way, his smoke trail is really thick and, in good light like we had today, it’s really dramatic.

That’s Theresa Stokes on the wing. I’m not fan of wing walking. I get the willies watching someone get out there and do something that depends for the thrill on the danger of the activity. I love to watch flying because it’s beautiful and graceful and can be done safely with the right precautions. I don’t think there’s anything in the pose or anything else in wing walking that adds much to the flying. I guess the defiant gesture in the shot here is pretty dramatic . . . I’m torn.

Can I say this without anyone thinking that I’m beating up on Theresa (or Gene)? I’m not. I met Theresa two years ago and she’s really together and is very good at what she does. And she’s an accomplished visual artist, too. And wing walking is a time-honored barnstorming tradition. But wing walking just isn’t my cup of tea. Doesn’t mean I won’t have the camera out and ready whenever she’s on the wing. And doesn’t mean that I’ll never get it. Just trying to reconcile what seems to be heresy when I actually type it.

More when I can get out on the net again. Connectivity here is really awful. Haven’t been able to get on the WiFi since I’ve been here. And haven’t talked to anyone who has.

And AT&T connectivity for wireless web is awful during the day. Couldn’t even tweet for most of the day, much less check e-mail. Kent suggested that it’s all of those iPhone users who had to take the AT&T service and who then descended on Oshkosh. I don’t know. I was a Spring customer last year, but didn’t depend as much on Internet access on my prior Blackberry device.

Anyway, it’s a little frustrating to be here with all kinds of content oozing from every crevice of the grounds and not be able to get any of it out without really working at it. I guess that, if you see these posts, it’ll mean that there’s at least some means by which to connect.

More later!

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