Oshkosh day 4 – Waking up at the Wenzel

waking up in the wenzel

 

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).alan k

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.

helicopterwbwarbirds1mooney1

 

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.

chrysalismuseum

 

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.

pat and steve

 

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.

michael and jack

 

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.

amelia12

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!

kids

 

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.

kathy

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.

 

 

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