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2004 Western Trip - OSHKOSH Day 3

What Actually Happened:

Date: July 29th, 2004

I woke around 7 AM and got the plane ready for a demo flight for Steve Campbell, a long time builder. We pushed the plane back and taxied out. It was already getting VERY busy, with a lot of arrivals and departures - far more than the previous two days. We eventually got off the ground and flew south, climbing to 3500 ft.  I gave Steve the stick, let him fly for a while, and then slowed it down to demonstrate stalls.  Steve (as is everyone else) was impressed by the nose bob, and the fact that we could descend, climb or stay level, all controlled with throttle, while bobbing the nose either in straight and level flight or while turning at bank angles up to 45 degrees (on this flight).  We flew around a bit more and then headed back. The arrival was a LOT busier than the previous days, and we were tight behind a slow taildragger landing on 18 Left. After turning off the runway, it must have taken us a good 1/2 hour to taxi back to the tiedown spot, and due to the fact that I had to prepare for the COZY Forum in a couple hours, I told Mark Knaebe that I'd have to postpone his ride till the next day, when there'd be a bit more time. Bob Tilley (a brand new builder in Georgia) wandered over and asked if he could get a ride, so I told him he could ride back seat on Mark's ride the next day, assuming it happened..

I then wandered around and bought (actually was given for free - I guess it costs them more to sell $3 items than to hand them out) some windscreens for my headset microphones, talked to Lightspeed Aviation again about how to time their electronic ignition systems, and prepared for the Forum. I rehearsed for about an hour, reviewing everything, and then headed over to the forum tent to set up.  Connecting the computer to the video screen was a piece of cake, and the tent filled up pretty good, not the least cause of which was the torrential rain that just started, forcing folks in out of it. I was following a forum by Lane Wallace, a writer for "Flying" magazine, so that crowd left as the COZY crowd filtered in and took their seats.

I was introduced by one of the EAA volunteers that administers the forum tent area, and I got started with the presentation, which will be on the web in the near future for you folks that missed it.  Mark Beduhn videotaped it, so we'll have that available in the future as well. I spoke for a few minutes and then noticed that the competing conversation was some guy still talking to Lane Wallace off to the side of the tent.  At a convenient pause in my presentation, I asked them if I was interrupting them with my speech, and they gave me dirty looks and moved out of the tent.  I guess I won't be getting any articles published in "Flying" magazine in the near future, but hey, it got a laugh.

 The presentation went very well - I was still a bit wooden, reading the script too much and making too little eye contact, but everyone was great. There were some questions at the end, most of which I could make up answers to, and people seemed pleased with the information provided and the tone as well. Next year, if asked to present, I'll tilt it a bit more toward current builders and flyers, rather than mostly toward prospective builders.

I yakked with folks a bunch after the forum, and then headed back to the tent to check it out after the rain.  As it turned out, the groundcloth made a wonderful bathtub, and the sleeping bag and most of the bottom of the tent was soaked, also partially due to the fact that I left the window(s) open. I tried to dry everything out as best I could, but it kept drizzling every once in a while, and didn't stop until late in the afternoon. I took everything out of the tent and either put it in the plane or in Alan Barnett's tent, and really only my towel and sleeping bag were really wet. Finally I just said screw it, and wandered around for an hour or so, and then headed over to the homebuilt dinner at the Nature Center. Many of the canard folk were there and we drank beer and yakked about airplanes (surprised, huh?) and football for a couple of hours.  The food was actually pretty good, and plentiful (as was the beer).

When that was getting boring, a bunch of us hiked over to the "Theater in the Woods", since Burt Rutan would be speaking at 8:55 PM. We got there around 7:30 PM, and had to listen to a bunch of boring crap for about an hour and a half - awards for "the best avionics technician" and "best maintenance mechanic manager", and stupid jokes and political pap from Marion Blakely (head of the FAA). However, when Burt and Mike Melvill came on and talked about the X-Prize space mission that they had just flown, it was all worth it.  Burt is a tremendous presenter, as well as the most brilliant and innovative person in aviation since the Wright brothers, bar none.  They showed a video of the flight from the inside, described all the issues they had and the reason for the design they came up with, and basically held the audience spellbound for almost two hours.  It was brilliant.

I headed back to the tent, brushed my teeth, and went to sleep in a still relatively soggy sleeping bag.  It was not the most restful night I've ever had, even in a tent.


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