Trailer for Chapter 1. EAA Air Venture 2014
Last Friday evening saw me head out to Ascot with my former flying instructor Tim Baish (who’s setting up an interesting new business, which I’ll keep you posted about as it unfurls). We were guests of Cirrus at the pre Red Bull Air Race event, and the party was a casual yet deluxe affair with plenty of great food, drinks and most importantly, company.
The pilots were all on hand to meet us and were unfailingly polite and happy to chat, despite the fact they were prepping for an intense weekend of competition. I was happy to see my pals Greg Gibson (Mike Goulian’s support team) Nicolas Ivanoff and Jean Paul Kieffer (Nicolas’ team coordinator and photographer) and the fabulous Jim DiMatteo (Red Bull Race Director) from Oshkosh a fortnight ago, who were perfectly happy to carry on larking around with me.
For those of you looking for more in-depth coverage of the fantastic event – go to Jets Magazine or Flyer Magazine for those superb editors and pillars of British GA magazine journalism Steve Bridgewater and Ian Seager were there, too.
If you haven’t seen them, the Red Bull Air Races are a fantastic watch, comprising an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time. Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of pylons, known as “Air Gates.”
The races are held mainly over water near cities, but are also held at airfields or natural wonders. They are accompanied by a supporting program of show flights. Races are usually flown on weekends with the first day for qualification then knockout finals the day after. The events attract large crowds and are broadcast, both live and taped, in many nations.
At each venue, the top nine places earn World Championship points. The air racer with the most points at the end of the Championship becomes Red Bull Air Race World Champion.
This Sunday at Ascot – (and discerning readers will note how much of this text is nicked from the Red Bull site..) in front of a 30,000 crowd – Britain’s Paul Bonhomme produced a stunning flight to secure victory in the thrilling Final Four round, stopping the clock at 1m 11.579s. His flawless flying edged fellow Brit and birthday boy Nigel Lamb into second place with a time of 1:11.750, while France’s Nicolas Ivanoff (1:11.884) claimed third.
The win moves him to within two points of current championship leader Hannes Arch after the Austrian suffered his worst result of 2014 to date. He now leads Bonhomme 43 points to 41 heading into the next round at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas on September 6–7, and with just three rounds of flying left in 2014, the championship battle between to duo looks set to be a thrilling one.
Am aiming to be at Vegas to watch, so will keep you posted!
Finally…am writing this from the comfort of my own home in London. The trip was a blast from start to finish. The Hilton evening actually marked the last night in the Wenzel. I was soooo beat after 8 nights camping in a tiny tent. Prepared to soldier on, but so many people saw the state of me on Friday morning that I had several offers of air beds for the evening. Hat tips to Amy Laboda and Paul Berterolli of Avweb for their generosity in offering me something more comfortable. However, my knight in shining armour turned out to be Philippe de Segovia, the PR guy for Daher Socata. I had given him a book and interviewed him about camping for the epic opus that will be released next week. He was leaving Camp S for foreign parts (returning home to France) and wondered whether I might like to take over his trailer for the evening. I did actually kiss him – caught on camera for posterity. I was so exhausted by that point. The Wenzel had done sterling service, but had leaked slightly in the night (honestly it was it and not me. If I had, I had become so feral by then that frankly I wouldn’t have cared anyway.)
I did my best to remain around the show and act in a semi professional manner, but was so thrilled by the prospect of a real bed and a private space for the night that I was practically skipping around the ground. Which is my excuse for a very cheeky conversation I had with the Smoke n Thunder guys, particularly Steve the Sausage Man. See pictured. Wish I could ID Dax though. Steve’s pal told me he was really famous. I thought he was Emilio Estevez, but was in the resounding minority of one. That’s being a Brit for ya.
I hoofed it over to Camp Scholle just as the heavens opened big time. A tiny beautiful Welsh lady called Jude hailed me over. God, I”m so witty, did you get that everyone? ‘hailed’ me over. Comic genius. “Hailed me over” Wow! Anyways…Jude and her son Matt hefted me and the innards of the Wenzel over to 105 Shaik Avenue, off’ve 35th. I donated the plant and some sundries to them and squelched my way into my new home ecstatically.
I haven’t mentioned what else was going on all around the show. Press conferences, exhibits, lots and lots and lots of flying. Special areas dedicated to Warbirds, Ultralights and Innovation. Workshops. Forums. Restaurants. You name it, it was going down.
What was a real pleasure though was getting ready – having a shower in my very own trailer. I didn’t want to leave. But eventually wound up, courtesy of chauffeur friend Jeff, at scheme designer Craig Barnett’s house for a lovely party. That I had to leave almost as soon as I arrived at since I had no clue how I’d get back to camp Scholle, so gladly accepted a lift from the Smiths, a kindly British couple who knew the ropes of scooting around Oshkosh.
The next day saw me up bright and early for the annual 5k run, which I ran in my best time ever. Huzzah, despite the Wenzel and another fun trawl around the show, getting in depth interviews with the likes of the famous Smoke n Thunder guys. Then another cozy night in the trailer after watching the night airshow with the lovely Borghi family, taking in the sounds and sights of the South African Camp on the way back – and on to the Hilton for my last night in Osh. The fabulous James W brought me back to NYC in his Mooney and I’ve been buzzing on the show since. If you’re looking for the hard news from the show go to www.ainonline.com or www.fligntglobal.com or www.loop.aero or the EAA website itself www.eaa.org. If you’re looking for some entertaining prating about capturing some of the finest points of the show, come back here later in the week, where we’re laying it all down in glorious motion technicolour.
Well, surprisingly enough to all concerned (i.e. me) I’m still hanging in at he Wenzel. Have given up a great deal semblance of civilisation now and become almost feral. If I’m hungry I insist on eating. Anything. Donuts, unidentifiable meat in white soggy bread, bright coloured cupcakes. Since there’s sugar in everything (especially the vegetables) I’m resigned to eczema on my face and a bloated stomach. Goes with the scruffy hair and damp clothes littering the Wenzel.
I don’t think I actually smell bad. I’ve been showering and wearing clean clothes, but if I do, nobody’s been impolite enough to tell me. What can I tell you about yesterday? The lovely neighbours Sherry and Clay left for Chicago. They were great fun and I”m missing them already. They did tell me before they left that we are parked in the handicap area of Camp Scholler, which is why we got such a great accessible spot. Apologies to all concerned. Yet another blooper. Once I got on site yesterday I was scooped up by the lovely Steve Els, a fellow journalist, who snuck me into the Harzell media lunch area. I troughed. I poked Simon Caldecott, CEO of Piper Aircraft, to share thumbs ups as we’re both from the Wirral in Merseyside, near Liverpool UK. As he was speaking at his presser yesterday all I could think was how familiar I am with that twang. I can recognise one of my own anywhere, no matter how long he’s been away from the homestead.
After some serious sugar filled meat and two veg, I headed over to talk to my pal Kate Dougherty of Kestrel. And roped her and Alan Klapmeier into my incisive hard hitting news video (to be revealed after the show when I can upload some files).
I am delighted to report that one of aviation’s finest pioneers totally threw himself into the spirit of the thing, to the extent of arranging a ladder and directing me on exactly how to shoot it. The result was very funny, and if he ever decides to stop making aircraft, a new career in Hollywood beckons I’m sure…
Kate also introduced me to the secret palace of pleasures behind their booth. But my lips must remain sealed for now.
And then I hitched a ride with my pal Jeff up to the North 40 to go and stand on the roof there, talk camping to one of the veterans and enjoy the warbirds landing up close and personal on the runway. And a look at all the people camped out. A quick visit to the Mooney barbecue – they were generous enough to offer pizza, beer and coke, and then I snuck into the Hamilton watches event at the museum to meet Matt. Steve Pope of Flying magazine was there and gave me the lowdown on some of the cool aircraft on display.
We also played flying simulators and were privileged enough to see the trailer for the new film, sponsored by Hamilton Watches. They also showed a film about Air Zermatt, the Swiss rescue helicopter pilots. What those guys do is nothing short of heroic. Hamilton’s ambassador Red Bull pilot Nicolas Ivanoff was also on hand and joined in my ridiculous video – God bless him. Greg Gibson, director of business development at Sun-n-fun also joined in the jollities.
As if that wasn’t enough fun, we headed over to the famous Acey Doucey bar for the Gama event. The great and the good were on hand, and I spent a happy evening chewing the fat with Matt, Steve, Mark Phelps, and Philippe De Segovia and Wayman Luy test pilot for Daher Socata. Also checked with Captain Steve Taylor of Boeing whether he’d brought a Dreamliner along to camp out under the wing.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that I’d also been to a wonderful annual party hosted by Pat and Steve Owen at their house. They run it every year and God knows how Pat finds time to cook up a storm and turn her beautiful garden into a party place. But she does, and I’m entirely grateful for their hospitality.
And so back to the Wenzel…
Another early start on Thursday. Not because I have to, more because I have to if you get my drift . It’s not the kind of place you want to lie in. Sun’s up. It’s bright inside. There is a lot of noise outside. Time to get up and enjoy one of those invigorating showers at Cell Block H. Followed by a soapy cup of coffee at the Red Barn restaurant. Horrible news on site when I arrived. A Breezy had crashed killing the pilot and leaving his passenger in a critical condition. Very sobering.
Matt and I then headed over to an annual event at Osh – meet the administrators. What a fantastic idea. I wish they’d do more of this in the UK and in Europe. All the major association heads were there, and evidently meet regularly with Michael Huerta and his team at the FAA. Jack Pelton led the discussion, asking about Class 3 medicals,. EAA and AOPA are petitioning to exempt recreational pilots from needing Class 3 medicals. Mr Huerta also talked at great length about the ADSB mandate for all aircraft flying in US classified airspace, and about the administration’s efforts (alongside the associations present) to improve safety with a monthly weather briefing.
It was a fascinating discussion, then Jack and Ed Bolen (NBAA chief) kindly also joined in my video game. Alas, I didn’t hit the record button on Jack’s speech, so will have to ask him again. Once more demonstrating what a total pratt I can be :)
And so to lunch with Matt, followed by a scoot over to see Amelia Earhart. I”m a big fan. I think she’s doing a wonderful job promoting flying to young people, and was lucky to hit the stand just as one of the scholarship winners Sheridan B Godfrey had arrived. I gave Amelia a copy of my book and she was gracious enough to pose for a pic with it. I watched her deal with the public and she really is a true ambassador for women in aviation. I’m very impressed.
another wander around the site, and lucky enough to bump into another young crew, who are promoting Aviation Careers Education. The kids were totally excited and about to get a tour of the tower, but generously posed for a pic for this. Thanks guys!
I missed seeing the God guy (he blesses flight plans apparently and has a booth). But met up with Matt and Jeff again (via a quick visit to Kate’s house of pleasure at Kestrel because Hall C was CLOSED). Then nipped over to the Warbird’s cafe, where we got caught in torrential rain. Fortunately that gave me the opportunity to meet the fireworks crew, who add the pyrotechnics to the night display. Kathy Ploekelmann is the first female member and says the thing that keeps her thrilled is the roar of the crowd. They were all pretty psyched to be at Osh and I have to say from what I saw last night, the show is something else.
After the downpour I felt uncharacteristically subdued and headed to the Hilton for shelter from the rain and a bit of much needed downtime. Personal space is not that available when camping, and this place is so infectiously social that I keep getting sucked into great conversations and fun times with people. All lovely of course, but I usually need a bit of R&R on my own for a time.
I have two ambitions here that I cannot reveal until after they have been done. Now am about to sign off and wait for my chariot in the form of Mr Thurber to take me back to the mothership.
“So Liz, how’s the camping?” So goes the question from friends I encounter here. It’s still going on. The Wenzel on 48 has its downsides, certainly, and I’m still hunting for the spa and jacuzzi on Camp Scholler, but generally tis all good, as I”m only there to sleep.
After a bracing shower in the plush facilities, Matt Thurber – roving reporter from www.ainonline.com and I drove over to the site for breakfast and a fascinating programme update from Aspen Avionics, who are going great guns with their retrofit programme for lighter aircraft. Its ADS-B product line now include more options to meet the NextGen ADS-B mandate.
John Uczekaj, president said, “Designed to work with what aircraft owners already have in their panels, Aspen’s NextGen ADS-B line provides an easy, cost-effective path to meeting the upcoming ADS-B Out mandate.” The kit is available for smaller aircraft, though they assured me they are aiming for larger birds in future, For indepth coverage and more hard news, read Matt’s excellent stuff on AIN’s website. He and Mark Huber are doing sterling work, as is Steve Trimble of www.flightglobal.com.
Then Matt kindly drove me to Target, because I’d lost the cable to the US cellphone I bought. After lots of Faffing around, I realised that I hadn’t, in fact done so, I’d actually tried to fit a micro USB into the headphone port. Reminding me again that lack of sleep and I don’t do all that well together. Fortunately I bumped into Sam Spurdens, publisher of the brilliant www.loop.aero digital magazine at Rockwell Collins booth. He, Josh Baynes and Kelly Holland were sympathetic in that kind of way where I know they were laughing WITH me rather than at me…:) That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Lunch came courtesy of Flight Design, whose C4 is almost production ready now. The firm announced at Aero Friedrichshafen earlier this year that it and added the new Garmin G3X avionics to its light sport aircraft. Comprising two 10,6 inch glass displays of the new Garmin G3X Touch series that does not have a TSO approval on its own, but will be certified together with the airframe, allowing for a significantly lower price point with much greater flexibility for future system enhancements and upgrades.
Had coffee with my camping mentors Sherry and Clay Furst (who know how to live the highlife under canvas) and then a fascinating discussion with the marvellous Michael Kraft of Lycoming, who knows how to bring a dry subject to life. One of his key messages is for GA people to stick together in associations to lobby governments to reduce taxes on our sector. He’d also like to see training that reflects the fact we live in the 21st century and analogue cockpits are becoming a thing of the past. That’s him, not Lycoming speaking I hasten to add.
I had a wander and bothered the One Week Wonder guys who are building a plane in a week. They let me rivet away, before heading over to look at the LSA guys. There I found John Hurst, who is promoting the Flight Design LSAs and also Yuneec remote control skateboards. Of course he had a go. And of course he made me had a go. I was a bit creaky, but managed to make a complete pratt of myself while distressing him. (I know I did – he had to watch me operate the iPad to take photos and videos.) He tried so hard to be polite about my inept operation, but I could see the pain on his face…
I barely had time for a quick scoot around the back of the static and warbirds park, before heading to the media centre. Did not quite finish this up before sneaking into the back of the #oshbash presentation hosted by blogger extraordinaire Dan Pimentel, he of Av8orDan tweet fame. He’s got a bunch of people together from the likes of Aopa, Women in Aviation International and the 99s to work on how to get people flying at Airplanista #Oshbash.
Day one and I’m already exhausted. In a good way. Sitting in Starbucks with friend and http://www.ainonline.com colleague Matt Thurber trying to download what’s happened today to a page. I have zero brain left and am still feeling totally blissed out with the experience.
Yesterday involved a twister, a new aircraft launch, a meeting with Mr Fang, a Chinese entrepreneur who is building said aircraft, a couple of parties and a campsite ghost. And yes, I’m still liking camping.
First things first – the brand-new aircraft launch and a pretty cool first proper story to learn about for my Osh. Minneapolis-based MVP Aero played to a packed house at the media centre yesterday when it unveiled the mock-up of its new amphibious two seater. Spearheaded by ex Cirrus stalwart and design genius Mike Van Staagen, the firm is developing a $189,000 light sport aircraft that can morph into many fun varieties. Set to fly in 18 months (thanks to a carefully thought out production process), the MPV should start delivering in the experimental amateur-built category in three years. The MPV can land on water, and offers a hammock, a fishing seat and a method of moving the instrument panel out of the way among its many option.
Alan Klapmeier serves on the board of advisors and strategic partners include Glasair Aviation of Arlington, Washington, and Fibercraft of Spruce Creek, Florida. Chinese entrepreneur Fang Tieji has the rights to manufacture and distribute the aircraft in Asia. Mr Fang is a pretty cool aviation man in his own right. He owns many and diverse businesses in China and is currently building airfields throughout the country with a view to taking advantage of the new relaxations offering access to Lower Altitude Airspace for civilian pilots. His ‘if we build it they will come’ attitude is heartening, especially when backed up with the machines to take wannabe pilots from field to field.
And so on to Garmin, which announced a new 7-inch G3X Touch touchscreen display option for experimental amateur-built and light sport aircraft. The new high-resolution infrared touchscreen display complements the OEM’s existing 10.6-inch G3X Touch system, offering new panel design options and redundancy. All G3X Touch displays support Connext cockpit connectivity between avionics and mobile devices featuring wireless flight plan transfer capabilities.
When paired with a 10.6-inch display, the 7-inch G3X Touch system can serve as a dedicated display for a variety of features including traffic awareness, full-screen moving map, geo-referenced charts, engine information and even serve as a back-up primary flight display (PFD).
The most exciting thing for me was the additional connectivity the system offers with VIRB, the firm’s HD action camera that uses an easy-access BNC composite video connection. Viewing live, full-screen video on the G3X Touch display is possible when integrated with the camera, which also allows pilots to start and stop video recording and take photos using up to 10 VIRB cameras, right from the touchscreen. Synthetic vision now comes standard with the package.
A quick hop over to Cirrus for some warm food, shelter from the gathering storm clouds and a look at the first of its Vision 50 production jets to fly at Oshkosh. While we were toughing the prototype trundled by.
And so over to Redbird. The company has remanufactured a Cessna 172 Skyhawk with ah new interior, a glass panel and a turbo-diesel engines. Combined with time in its flight simulators, the firm is offering an attractive package for flight training schools.
And then we saw it – a TWISTER – actually a swirl of water droplets that vaporised as we watched. But that did it. Sent us scurrying to Ard’s diner for my first root beer float and a surprise meeting with James Wynbrandt and the team at Air Venture News. Back to the Wenzel on 48th, when the ghostly campsite piano player started up. For at least a half hour we had what some might call a pleasant backdrop to tented bedtime. Others, such as myself, may be less charitable. I was too tired to argue with my ears and fell asleep anyway, despite the cacophony.
Day one official
Started nicely with a bracing shower in 12-degree cold weather, followed by a wonderful warming media breakfast at Bendix King’s chalet. The Honeywell owned Albuquerque based company has increased its offerings of affordable certified Automatic Dependent Surveillance –Broadcast (ADS-B) solutions with the introduction of its KGX 150/130 Series ADS-B Transceivers and Receivers for flights below 18,000 feet offering an integrated Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) GPS with optional wireless capability to display traffic and weather on a tablet.
Of potentially greater interest to my readers at Inflight mag is the company’s announcement that it is to offer an affordable data plan for its AeroWave 100 in-flight Internet system aimed at general aviation aircraft including pistons, turboprops and light jets. This new data plan allows people to buy data based upon how many hours they use, versus how much data they consume. Operators will be able to purchase 50 hours of Internet connectivity for $1,999.
“With the data plan for AeroWave 100, we eliminated the ridiculously expensive price barrier for obtaining in-flight connectivity for the light jet and turboprop market,” said Kevin Gould, president.
BendixKing’s new service plan, combined with the AeroWave 100, offers uncompressed data speeds of up to 104 Kbps through an active low-gain antenna, providing regional services covering major land masses worldwide. Service plans are available in blocks of 3,000 minutes (50 hours) for $1,999 and the AeroWave 100 are available through authorized dealers.
Then it was off to the Boeing Plaza for a glimpse of the first production HondaJet making its public debut today. The place was packed. “EAA AirVenture Oshkosh has been the setting of several HondaJet firsts and in many ways, this event was the true beginning of Honda’s aviation venture,” said president Michimasa Fujino. “We decided to debut the first production HondaJet here as part of Honda’s commitment to inspire others through the power and realization of our dreams.”
Then a whizz over to Avidyne, which is offering new hardware dubbed new IFD540 and IFD440 FMS/GPS/NAV/COM to support both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity at no additional charge to its existing offerings.
“Having access to both WiFi and Bluetooth capability in the aircraft gives pilots and passengers maximum breadth of connectivity,” said Dan Schwinn, Avidyne’s president. “With throughput rates of up to 3 Mbps, Bluetooth provides terrific point-to-point connectivity for specific devices and App-based tasks, while our WiFi provides a higher-bandwidth connection of up to 65 Mbps for more robust purposes including laptops and browser-based connectivity.”
Then a gallop over to Textron Aviation, which had a slew of announcements, perhaps the most significant of which was the launch of the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A, which will join the Turbo Skylane JT-A as the latest diesel powered platform in its single-engine product line up. The company is displaying the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A this week at AirVenture.
“We’ve been working for a few years now to find new, reliable alternate fuel solutions for the Cessna Skyhawk to meet changing environmental regulations, particularly in Europe, as well as the limited global supply of currently used 100 low-lead gasoline, and technology has led us to the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A,” said Joe Hepburn, senior vice president.
Oh, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff to tell you all about, but Starbucks is closing and I have to post this up. We did attend the Hartzell Props and Hops and now I have to go back to the campsite, get the airbed rebooted and clean up my act ready to start it all again at sparrowfart tomorrow…
Arrive in style with fellow reporter pal James Wynbrandt in his Mooney over Lake Winnebago to land. Awesome. Park at the Weekes museum static and see loads of vintage stuff being prepped for the show. Alas Camp Scholler is miles away :(
Young gent in golf buggy sees us wandering with suitcases, so picks me up and ferries me there. Waits while I get registered. Drives me to a spot next to Wifi, near to showers and store and site and totally lovely couple. Who help me pitch the tent and stake my spot.
We drove via a group of south africans who invite me to pitch next to them as well. (Because I’m meeting up with another journo pal, who’ll be camping next to me later in the week and have strict instructions not to do so – I don’t. They are seriously hard partiers. I’ll certainly be popping over for a visit though!)
Day winds up in Target quaffing much needed coffee and picking up my innards for the tent – sleeping bag, lantern, artificial pot plant etc. Driven here by golf cart buddy, who’s also loaned me his airbed and swung by to see if he could help me as Target’s on his way home. Now the Target employees are offering to drive me back to the site so I don’t have to pay for a cab. There’s a problem with returning my airbed, for which I now have no use, so Target give me the cash plus a ten dollar apology freebie card. Then the girl in Starbucks drives me back to the campsite and spends fifteen minutes locating my tent. Which has a flashlight left outside, left by the lovely couple next door. Who pop over to check I’m okay…
Day 2 – The magic of Osh continues.
Everyone keeps being so lovely. Bumped into someone I know, who’s given me invites to some parties and to her booth tomorrow for free hat and sunscreen (to add to my collection of 3 hats and 5 pairs of shoes I’ve squeezed into the Wenzel). Meet Mooney ambassadors to introduce to James Wynbrandt and who invite me to visit their Californian place to learn about the museum they just built with the auctioned profits from the sale of their first new production aircraft for decades, the Mooney Acclaim.
So THEN I wander over to get a chicken salad from the A&W concession. And the lovely guy behind the counter hands me a free box of chicken nuggets while I wait. I couldn’t quite hear what he said, but murmured “thank you” thinking it’s the English accent that’s doing it, along with the sprit of Osh. I tucked in and devoured a piece.
and THEN a lovely young gentlemen behind me reached over and took the box and said ‘you’re welcome,’. I had actually stolen his food. Thanks to young James Soyk for forgiving my derelictions and laughing with, rather than at me.
Then Jeff Decker, who’s been storing a book I wrote ages ago for aeons turns up with copies of said book, drives me to Wipaire to see the seaplanes. I buy dinner. It’s the least I can do. Get taken back to the site and almost don’t want to go asleep now am having so much fun!