Monday, August 31, 2009

Who built this RV-10?



I've written in the past about how some builder assistance operations are going to kill the golden goose -- forcing the FAA to scrap the homebuilt/amateur-built category because of people who are cheating.

Perhaps you saw this article on an RV-10(members) in the most recent AOPA Magazine. It turns out the gentleman says he didn't build it; someone else did.

You'll want to read this thread on the Matronics list for all the details.

You may also wish to listen to this week's podcast of Uncontrolled Airspace, in which Amy Laboda tries to explain why this is such a huge deal.

(Photo: Mark Pasqualino)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

RV Builder's Hotline article: What's the best brake fluid for an RV?



If I were still producing the RV Builder's Hotline, I'd make this week's story about brake fluid, based on a thread that's broken out on the RV Yahoogroup. But most of my Hotline curiosity is now being channeled here, so I've organized some of the various links and information on the subject and posted it on the Hotline Web site, which remains fully open.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Probe: Airplane flown by Pt. Pleasant Beach man traveling 164 mph at time of crash

From APP.com

A small airplane built and flown by a Point Pleasant Beach man was traveling at about 164 mph when it crashed into the Shark River estuary last year, according to a federal investigative report.
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The pilot, Richard J. Jahns, 45, was killed in the July 5, 2008, crash. His body was recovered two days later, along with parts of the plane.

The plane's speed on impact was among the tidbits of information contained in the factual report released earlier this week by the National Transportation Safety Board.


A year to come up with the factual report?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two killed in RV-6 crash

The crash of the single-engine RV-6 airplane occurred at the St. Charles Parish (Louisiana)Airport about 4:20 p.m. on Sunday. The plane veered left on takeoff and crashed into some woods near the end of the runway, said St. Charles Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange. Killed were James F. Miller, 61, of Gretna, and Lt. Col. Wendell Lee Collins, 42, of Hickory, N.C. (more from NOLA.com) Registration

The discussion about plane crashes has been an ongoing one in recent months. A thread on VAF that I started was deleted because subsequent comments, from what I understand, strained some sensibilities.

Is there something we can learn about accidents prior to a final NTSB report? Can we bring an educated viewpoint to analyze the data that is made available? Can it be done without offending families? It's an ongoing debate, but one that can best take place on blogs more so than bulletin boards.

OTHER ACCIDENTS

WA: Everett/ 8/21/09 . RV-6 hit a hydrant while taxiing for takeoff. (Anyone want to take a stab at this one?) Registration.

Jousting with JetFlex

Doug Weiler, the lead dog of the Minnesota Wing of Van's Air Force -- aka The Twin Cities Builders Group -- recounts the part of building airplanes he likes least: painting. He's currently working on an RV-7 and he's learned a few things since he built his RV-4. In the current issue of the RVator's Log, the newsletter of the group, Doug looks at JetFlex.

In the same issue, Pete Howell has travelogue on his trip to Steamboat Springs, and the background on an RV altitude record.

Download the issue here.

In flight RV-formation video

See what flying formation over Oshkosh in an RV airplane looks like from the air.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stranded on a jet

Here's a little transcript/annotation I made of conversations surrounding that Continental ExpressJet that sat in Rochester Minnesota all night a few weeks ago. I made it for this post for the day job.




Interesting to note that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the investigation so far "thorough." But he made his finding without interviewing Mesaba. Figures.

RV Daytripping: DC



It's the darndest thing, really. I've spent the last few weeks really working on the RV-7A project. My wife has been out of town and I've just gotten into that "zone" where all roads lead to the hangar.

Until the last couple of days. I'm sure it's only a momentary thing. Perhaps it's the lousy weather. Or maybe I'd just rather be home with my wife than alone with my aluminum friend. I don't know, but I'm working on trying to get the "zen" back, again.

Fortunately, I have RV daytripping stories and pictures to follow and I'm not sure if all the people who file these on the various Web sites know how motivating they can be.

Ted Chang is posting some now on a trip to DC. DC? Don't small planes vaporize when they get within 30 miles of the place? Apparently not.

If you're similarly motivated by these things, you'll love the selection on his Web site.

Update 8/24 1:48 p.m. - Ted has posted his travelogue here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

RV accident reports

NEW INCIDENTS

SD - Tea. 8/17/09. Two people were killed when N98AW was doing some aerobatics in an RV-8. Witnesses said the engine sputtered. Argus Leader. Judging from this picture, this plane was affiliated with the Vanguard Squadron, which touts the benefits of ethanol.

FINAL REPORTS

CA. Fresno. Probably cause released, 8/13/09, in November 2008 incident in which an RV-6 crashed on landing, seriously injuring the pilot.

The pilot reported that during the initial climb the engine misfired and only produced "marginal power." As he executed a left turn back towards the airport, the engine lost power and he performed a forced landing onto a golf course. During the landing roll, the airplane struck a berm and became airborne again. Subsequently, the airplane landed hard and came to rest upright. Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the airplane fuselage was structurally damaged. Examination of the converted Ford engine by the pilot revealed that the fuel system was intact and undamaged. The pilot also reported finding "no obvious" anomalies with the ignition system. The reason for the loss of engine power was not determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The loss of engine power during initial climb for undetermined reasons.


FL: Titusville. Probable cause released in the 3/1/08 crash that killed three people in a runway collision between a velocity and an RV-8. (More)

The accident, an on-ground collision between two airplanes at a non-towered airport, occurred when the lead airplane in a flight of four RV-8s, which had landed and exited the runway, was struck by a Velocity not associated with the flight. Witnesses stated that the flight of four RV-8s announced their intentions to land in formation on Runway 15 over the radio and on the same frequency that the Velocity announced its intention to conduct a straight in approach to Runway 15. The Velocity arrived on final just behind the fourth RV-8, and touched down on the runway close to the approach end. The Velocity then drifted left off the runway and onto the grass. It passed to the left of the three trailing RV-8s that were still on the runway, and struck the lead RV-8, which had cleared the runway to the left on a taxiway in the vicinity of the departure end of the runway. At some point prior to the collision, engine power on the Velocity increased. Examination of the Velocity did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions, and the weather in the area was conducive for visual flight rules operations.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The pilot of the Velocity’s failure to see and avoid the flight of four RV-8s that had landed and were in the process of clearing the runway.

The ultimate Oshkosh write-up



Over the years, I've seen tons of write-ups about Oshkosh, but none better than this one posted on Van's Air Force by Vlady Spassky. I may skip next year and just read his write-up; it's that good.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Firing up the Vertical Power 50

The more I work with the Vertical Power system, the more I love it. I mean, think about it: There are no circuit breakers to wire, no fuses, no buss to wire, no holes to drill in the panel (except for the control unit).

Basically, you take a wire from whatever device you want to power, stick it into the correct pin on the Vertical Power system, then fire up the system and set the circuit breaker and amp value, and assign it to a switch on your panel. Could it be simpler?

Of course, my newfound perfectionism (which, for the record, rarely yields perfection itself) bit me. I didn't like the original power cable from the master to the Vertical Power unit. The terminal connectors I got from Van's had a hard plastic and I didn't like crimping them with the B&C Connectors' bang-the-crap-out-of_it crimping tool.

So I ordered new terminals and heat shrink and made the cable over. Can you tell the new from the old?



I'll carry the old cable with me as a space in case something happens sometime.

Then I hooked one end to the VP-50...



... and the other end to the ANL on the firewall. Yes, I know this is not wired properly at this point, I just wanted to tap into the power.



The other reason I wanted to make a longer power cable is to run it -- via Adel clamps -- down the engine mount tubing.

Then, I reconnected the ground cable from the battery, climbed into the cabin, flipped the master switch on and...ahhh,.....



How sweet is that? Then I flipped to the setup menu because at this point the VP-50 doesn't recognize anything and isn't passing power.



The VP-50 monitors your electrical system constantly. No need for a bunch of annunciator lights on the panel. In the shot above, it's telling me it's got 12.3 volts form the battery (normally it would be about 13.4 but all I do is drain the battery since it's not connected to a running alternator), and .3 amps and that the system status is OK. If it wasn't OK, the red light would light up and the screen would tell you exactly what's wrong. How can you not love this?



The first device I configured was the flap switch. I set it to always be on (it's not slaved to a switch on the VP-50 unit because the flaps have an up and down switch on the panel. Set the amps to 10 and the circuit breaker to 10 (I have to change this to 6), hit "save" and the flap switch worked!

Then I did the same with the Dynon D-100 electronic flight information system (EFIS). This time I assigned it to switch two. What I can do here is use that as an avionics master switch if I wish. I can also use put all the non-essential avionics on that switch and then, should I have an alternator failure, I can shed load by hitting one switch. In the case of the Dynon, it has an internal battery backup, so I would disconnect it from drawing battery power in the event of an alternator failure.



The goal in this system is to have an electrical system in the plane such that any alternator failure will not be a major issue. People who are using circuit breakers and fuses are creating emergency busses in which a flip of a switch brings the backup system online. I could do something like that, but it would defeat the purpose of the VP-50 system in the first place.

For me, the goal is to have backups (the internal battery on the Dynon, the battery on the Garmin 296, a handheld radio) on the avionics, and I'll also have a switch for the electronic ignition and also the fuel boost pump so -- if something happens to the VP-50 system, I can flip a switch and bring power to those items directly from the battery.

This is a major step for the construction project. I suppose the next big step is the first start of the engine. That's at least a year -- and several thousand dollars -- away.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Get it in writing



Hello, welcome to the Aircraft Mechanic Course for Dummies 101. I'm Bob. Today we're going to talk about a very critical part of being an airplane maintenance dude. Please turn to chapter one in your workbooks. It's the one called, "Make sure you have the owner's permission to fly his plane."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pick the RVs on the EAA mag cover

The EAA is running a little contest on Oshkosh 365 to select the cover for the next issue. A couple of acrobatic airplanes? Cool. Their fancy sponsors would like the free publicity, I'm sure. Airbus 380? Yeah, fine it hasn't been on enough aviation magazines.

The RV formation folks in taxi? Ding! Ding! Ding!



Why? Because they represent what EAA is supposed to be -- and, for the most part, is -- about. Regular people who fly for fun, not their jobs. And represent all that is good about aviation.

Vote early and often.

The women of World War II

My colleagues at my day job put this feature together:



And here's the story that goes with it.

How can you not love this woman?

Final RV-12 kit available

From the company. It sounds like we should be investing in Rotax:

Van’s began taking orders for RV-12 Powerplant Kits at about 3:30pm on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. By Tuesday evening, we had received orders for all of the engines that we had in stock (25). An additional 25 engines are scheduled to arrive at Van’s shortly.

We will be shipping Powerplant Kits to customers based on the sequence in which the orders were received and in as timely a manner as possible. (see note below). The engine itself is only one of 60 components in the Powerplant Kit. While we do not anticipate significant delays, logistics may cause variations in estimated delivery times.

We anticipate being able to keep a steady flow of engines from Rotax to Van’s.They should arrive so as not to drastically disrupt delivery of engines to our customers.
Thanks for your support!

Van’s

Note: Shipping priority will be given to customers who have already received their Empennage, Wing, Fuselage and Finish Kits (Receipt of Avionics Kit is not necessary to receive shipping priority).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nathan Peterson's RV-8


Nathan Peterson of Blooming Prairie is building his own airplane in his shop just outside of town.

Since Peterson was 10-years-old he has been fascinated with airplanes. His father, Harris, had a plane in the hangar at their home.

"I could drive everything else in the shed, so I decided to try airplanes," Peterson said.

The plane builder is a 1977 Blooming Prairie High School graduate.

Peterson worked hard for decades, working all week on the farm to be able to afford lessons on the weekend. In 1980, he got his Airline Transport Pilot License.

Today, he is a pilot for Pinnacle Airlines where he has been for over 23 years. He flies out of Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport.

"It was a long haul to get where I am at today," he said.

(More from the Blooming Prairie (MN) Times)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NPR gets it wrong

NPR missed the mark with this two-way last evening with NPR's Robert Benincasa, who reportedly had "analyzed" data showing many near-misses among pilots who fly via "visual flight rules." The piece doesn't say what data was being analyzed. Pilots aren't required to file any paperwork to report a "near miss" and there's no definition of what a "near miss" is.

The Atlantic's James Fallows, points out the lack of expertise in some of the reporting on the incident and subsequent calls for further restrictions.

I mentioned shortly after the tragic Hudson River aerial crash that a person who had never driven cars - let's say an Amish farmer -- might look at traffic on a busy roadway and think: how do they keep from hitting each other?!? How can it possibly be safe? Similarly, people with no experience in airplanes might look at areas like the Hudson River "VFR corridor" and think: how do they keep from hitting each other?!? How can it possibly be safe?


NPR's conversation also suggested that VFR (basically, see and avoid) pilots have only their eyes to save them. That's not true. There's also a service provided by air traffic controllers called "flight following" this is available on request. Controllers, using their radar, will alert pilots to conflicting traffic. The pilot has to request this service and the controller's workload has to permit it.

The NPR conversation also said:

There's also been some talk of requiring aircraft that fly in this corridor to be equipped with transponders. And these are these electronic devices that allow air traffic controllers and other aircraft to know where a particular aircraft is.


This one is particularly puzzling because such a mandate already exists. It's called a "Mode C veil" and it exists within 30 miles of major airports (including the Twin Cities) in which all planes must have an altimeter-reporting transponder that can be picked up on radar.

In addition, many pilots are equipping their planes with new, relatively inexpensive traffic alert systems that alert him/her to conflicting traffic.

Former CNNer Miles O'Brien gets it right:

It is NOT the Wild West up there – as one congressional staffer suggests. Not by a long shot. There are rules that pilots follow and the safety record speaks for itself.

It is a busy place with a lot of traffic and you have to pay attention all the time. But that’s New York for you. When two cars collide in Midtown Manhattan, do we instantly insist the traffic laws be changed?

The odds of this accident happening were long indeed. If either pilot had taken off five or ten seconds later (or earlier) it would not have happened.

It is a terrible tragedy and we all mourn the needless loss of life. But it was, statistically, a black swan – and not the result of some endemic, systemic flaw. Let’s resist the temptation to try and fix a system that is not broken. More often than not, the unintended consequences simply make matters worse.


O'Brien gets it right because he knows what he's talking about; he's a pilot. And it's worth pointing out that the "media is against us" mentality is as inaccurate as NPR's reporting. There are pilots who work in the media.

So why do these inaccuracies get into the reporting? Speaking from an experience, I'd say it's the arrogance of the editorial process. Editors, and some reporters, don't like to admit that they don't know everything. So you can have a resource of expertise in the newsroom on an issue that's not mined by a less-expert editor and reporter.

The dirty little secret of the media is also that the editorial process starts with an assumption, and then mines data to confirm that assumption. Technically, the facts are correct, but contextually the resulting piece is wrong because data and facts that might challenge the assumption might be ignored or, even worse, not sought in the first place.

I suspect that's what happened at NPR.

Disclaimer: I have an opinion on the issue that's almost as strong as my distaste for inaccurate reporting.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Buyer's remorse

I rarely have buyer's remorse, but when I do, it usually falls very close to when I renew my AOPA membership.

I'm not a big fan of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association because of their "us against them" attitude and constant belittle of the media. As I've written before, the amount of good media coverage of general aviation far exceeds the negative.

So I was surprised to see the phrasing of the top story in today's AOPA E-brief:




Et tu, AOPA?

The predictable response

A small plane and a helicopter collided over the Hudson River on Saturday as you, no doubt, know by now.

3.... 2.... 1...

Roll 'em!

The StatenIsland.com takes the obvious bait:

"They all navigate by sight. We don't even ride the streets like that," said New Brighton resident Vincent Montalbano, who has long been calling for a ban on aircraft flying over residential areas.


You don't. How do you do it? Rosary beads?

"It's not just because they're so obnoxious," McMahon said of the noisy helicopters. "This is another example of the tragedies that can happen."


And so we must eliminate all risk in our lives.

Had one or both of the aircraft crashed into a neighborhood, "you could have had a huge tragedy on the ground."


But they didn't crash into the neighborhood, did it? The only plane that crashed into a New York neighborhood was a jetliner that was under the control of air traffic controllers. Yeah, the same air traffic controllers who seem to be suggesting this accident wouldn't have happened if it were under the restrictions in the higher airspace.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Just a girl

Tired of watching first-flight videos with soundtracks from Top Gun? Good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Return of the Red Tail

The red-tailed P-51 Mustang, which crashed in Red Wing, killing pilot Don Hinz years ago, returned to South St. Paul's Fleming Field today after years of restoration by the Red Tail Project. It's a traveling piece of history to educate people about the Tuskegee Airmen.

I didn't make it out to the ceremony this afternoon, but I happened to be standing by the runway Wednesday evening when it went out for its evening constitution with its hangar mate.



I love having my RV project at this field, and being able to run out to the side of the runway at a non-towered field for a big dose of aviation inspiration.

It's the cows

Truth be told, about a week after I get home from Oshkosh, I begin to think that maybe I'll skip the next year. But I keep going back. It's the friends, I suppose. But truth be told it's also the cows.

In hangars and garages all over America, there are these posters of Amoolia the cow, perhaps the most brilliant marketing campaign in aviation history. Aeroshell came up with it years ago to promote Shell Oil's line of aviation products. Every year, there's a different poster.

Today, when I found myself thinking I'd skip next year's event, my first thought was, "I'll have to find someone to get me a cow poster."

Here's this year's and previous years versions.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Paul Wise's RV-12



Once again, another example of the media out to get general aviation (/sarcasm)

From the Hickory Record


Paul Wise is building an airplane. In his garage.

The northwest Hickory resident loves to fly and wanted an airplane of his own.

But, "There are no airplanes to rent, and buying one is pricey," Wise said.

The idea of building his own took shape when he went to the Osh Kosh air show, one of the biggest and most famous in the world.

Wise is a member of The Blue Ridge Aviators, an Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter. The EAA puts on the Wisconsin show, AirVenture Osh Kosh.

"I saw plans for a kit plane there," he said, "and was interested."

Formation flight



The 37-ship formation at Oshkosh was quite a lovely site for those of us on the ground. But it appears we've forgotten something: Reminding the people on the ground that formation flight isn't stunt flying.

In fact, we really haven't seen much in the way of explanation for the masses about what formation flying is and how professional -- in particular -- these flights are.

A blog in my neck of the woods today shows the danger of this lapse:

We can't help thinking about planes falling from the sky when we watch these stunt air shows, but we have to admit these incredibly close and perfected formations in the sky are beautiful. Thanks Wisconsin!


Sure, we can lapse into the tried and true "oh, there goes the stupid media" nonsense again. But formations are intended to look thrilling and a little scary to the people on the ground. That's why we want them to look up.

As a non-formation flyer, I've done what I can to educate that particular blog, including showing them what it looks like from the air and explaining the training that goes into it. Fortunately, I had these pictures to help;.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Flying drunk

joe_balzer.jpg

"Tell those people up in Minnesota 'I'm really sorry,'" Joe Balzer said to me as I left our meeting at the EAA air show in Oshkosh a few days ago. "I had my worst day," he said of the day he committed what many, perhaps, believe to be an unforgiveable act. He and two others on the flight crew of a Northwest Airlines flight with 91 people aboard, were drunk when they flew from Fargo to Minneapolis.

He was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison.

Before the flight, he and his crew spent hours in a Moorhead bar, pounding down rum and Cokes and beer.

"That evening I was full of fear," he said. "I was on probation from Northwest Airlines, things weren't going well with the crew, we were a little dysfunctional. It was a terrifying event. It was the culmination of the ultimate struggle. A year before I had a blackout in Los Angeles as a pilot for Eastern Airlines. I tried to quit drinking on my own... I didn't have a support group, I didn't have a 12-step group, I wasn't seeking wise counsel from others. My chances of success were not very good."

Balzer, who's just released his book, "Flying Drunk", says he got drunk for the first time when he was three years old, drinking with his grandfather.

The low point of his life was hours after his flight landed in Minneapolis. "There we were in (Northwest Airline's) headquarters and the results came back and they said, 'All three of you guys tested positive for alcohol,' and I thought, 'This is bad, I'm going to lose my job and I'm going to lose my pilot's license.' That night I was stranded in a hotel in Minneapolis and I paced it off in the room. I walked back from the window and I thought, 'If I get going good I can get through that window and do a swan drive.' That's how ashamed I was about what I'd done. I let myself down and I knew that, but I looked at that window and I thought, 'This isn't the right thing to do; it'd be very selfish.' I had a good cry from deep inside and I just decided to accept responsibility and change my life."

Nineteen years after the incident, and years after prison in Georgia, Balzer rebuilt his aviation ratings. "One day I walked into American Airlines after they saw me speak. I'd been rejected by over a hundred different airlines." He was hired.

Not all airline pilots have forgiven Balzer. After the arrests and trial in Minneapolis, airline pilots were the target of jokes from late-night comedians. "What matters is I own my part and I've made amends to my professional brothers who made a living," he said. "At the time I thought I was OK to fly and I know today with the clarity of a recovering person... I had no business being near an airplane that morning. Had it happened before? Yes. Does it happen with pilots? Yes. It's a problem with brain surgeons, and pastors, and school teachers, and everyone. Ninety-eight percent of alcoholics show up and do a job. There will be pilots who will still hold it against me personally and all I can do is say 'I'm sorry.'"

He's still flying for the airline and still speaking to people, knowing that there's probably a drunk in the audience. "The pilot who knows he has a problem is really playing with fire. Alcoholism is a 100-percent fatal disease. It's very important for pilots who have scared themselves ... just like I did out in Los Angeles ... if people are having episodes like that and finding themselves with DWIs, they need to get some help," he said.

One of his messages to airline pilots is seeking help doesn't have to involve losing a career. He says the FAA, pilots unions, and the airlines have created programs for recovery.

"First they can save their lives. Then they can save their careers," he said.

Listen to the interview:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Oshkosh Awards for RVers

The list of winners at AirVenture in Oshkosh have been announced. These are the ones to RVers.

Kit Outstanding Workmanship - Plaque
Gary Daubert, Banks, Oregon
2006 Van’s RV-8, N97MM

Kit Outstanding Workmanship - Plaque
Joseph Card, Austin, Texas
2007 RV-9A, N4822C

Kit Outstanding Workmanship - Plaque
David Wilson, Galesburg, Illinois
2009 RV-8, N876ND

Kit Champion - Bronze Lindy
Phil Lamb & Richard White, Blue Springs, Missouri
2009 Van’s RV-8, N53LW

Kit Champion - Bronze Lindy
Glenn Vokac, Oswego, Illinois
2008 Van’s RV-8, N81GV

Kit Champion - Bronze Lindy
Joe Czachorowski, Wilmington, Delaware
2008 RV-10, N87FT

Kit Champion - Bronze Lindy
Michael Rossum, Longwood, Florida
2007 Van’s RV-7A, N33MR

This is the famous "mermaid" paint job that had everyone talking.



As I understand it, the painter hired to do this does quite a few planes, and -- for the right price -- will fly to your base and do your airplane.


Reserve Grand Champion Kit Built - Silver Lindy
Richard Gray, Vincent, Ohio
2008 F1 Rocket, N251RG



Congratulations to those above who actually built their RVs (Rick Gray, I know for sure, put the craftsmanship into his plane that won the award. Here's an interview I did with him a few months ago). To those who bought their way to an award, well, big deal.

There was a lot of talk around the campsite about the 51% rule and the usual discussion ensued. Van, of course, served on the committee that is trying to come up with standards. Van can stop this nonsense anytime he wants. When Van's ships a kit to the same address in Texas -- or Oregon or wherever -- over and over and over, he knows exactly what's happening.

My guess is a lot of people who worked hard on their airplane -- themselves -- didn't get the full credit due them. They are, in my books, grand champions all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Oshkosh Diary: Back home and counting



I left Oshkosh yesterday morning and have returned home. Unfortunately, I didn't get to say goodbye to the half dozen or so people who are pretty much the reason I go in the first place.

So if you're reading this -- and you know who you are -- they should make a video about you all. Planes are nice. Airshows are nice. Fancy gadgets are nice. But they're not what makes Oshkosh Oshkosh.