Bill and Ken’s Excellent Adventure Continues – A Mass of Mustangs – Motogliding over Michigan – There’s FOD on the runway

aviation, aviation history, fun, Travel

When your good friend Bill Shepard contacts you and asks if you want to go down to Jack Roush’s maintenance hanger in Michigan to see the Red Tail Squadron Mustang, you jump at the chance.

3 generations of P-51 Mustangs in one small hangar.

mustangs2P-51-B “Old Crow”, P-51-D “Gentleman Jim” and P-51-C “Tuskegee Airmen”.  The B and D models are owned by Jack Roush while the C comes from the CAF Red Tail Squadron.  Bill invited me come along while he flew the Red Tail after its recent engine restoration.  The guys at Roush Aviation did a great job with only a few minor tweaks left to be done.

A nice surprise was the arrival of 2 Schweizer SGM 2-37 motogliders from the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum in Detroit .

DSC_0925Steve Tupper, Nicholas Tupper, John Harte and Mike Nutt dropped in to see Shep.  This was the first time I’d seen  one of these old training motogliders actually in operation.

DSC_0930Any disappointment I felt for not being able to get a ride in the P-51-C melted away when I was offered a ride in the glider.  “Busta” was my pilot and we somehow wedged my bulk into the seat and got the 5 point harness locked and off we went!

From Willow Run Airport (YIP) to Detroit City Airport (DET) overflying  Detroit Metro (DTW), I was treated to the bumpiest ride of my life.  A motoglider on a direct route is subject to the whim of every air current and a warm spring day provided for lots of rapid elevation changes.  Disconcerting at first but a whole lot of fun.  Mike and Steve flew as close as they could given the air in a very impressive display of airmanship.

DSC_0981DSC_0985A view of downtown Detroit and then we landed at DET.

DSC_1007We taxied in past the now sadly named Executive Terminal to the team’s hangar.

DSC_1014Spent the rest of the afternoon having a great time talking to the good folks of Detroit and looking at some of the vintage aircraft in the hangars.

What about the FOD?  That’s young Nicholas Tupper’s callsign.  A fine young man well on his way to becoming an excellent pilot at the age of 12.

DSC_0950Thanks to everyone who made yesterday so special.  Of course, the biggest thank you of all goes to Bill Shepard.  Call me anytime you need a posse Shep.

DSC_0906Just work on the music mix on your iPod.

more photos available 

Prepping for Oshkosh

aviation, aviation history, Flying Is Fun, fun, Oshkosh, Travel

1-DSC_3195Two very, very long weeks from now I’ll be arriving to take part in EAA AirVenture 2013 – better known simply as “Oshkosh”.  The world’s biggest aviation celebration and the greatest week of the year.

This will be my third Oshkosh and my second where I drive instead of fly.  All the arrangements have been made – hotels. fast ferry pass and all the tickets needed to get through the week.  The cameras have been cleaned and polished with a few accessories to be delivered next week.  I’ve cleared about 100gb on the hard drive to load the thousands of pictures that will come.  The Jeep goes in for an oil change and some scheduled maintenance next week to make sure she’s ready for some long drives.  Everyone and I mean EVERYONE at work knows that Oshkosh is coming and I will effectively disappear from the face of the earth for 11 days as far as they are concerned.  I missed one Oshkosh because of business pressures and it will not happen again.

My friends can be broken down into 2 categories.  Those who understand my passion for aviation and those who think I am nuts.  The latter ask why I continually go on and on about Oshkosh and why I get that crazy look as the end of July draws nearer.  The friends who understand what this means are happy for me. Well some are jealous but still happy.  My wife, bless her heart, is somewhere in the middle but she let’s me do this and supports me all the way which is why, along with about 10,000 more reasons, that I love her.  She’s prepared to wave goodbye not knowing if I will call her every day (I DO try) and if she’ll be able to understand me over the roar of a jet or radial engine.

For those who don’t quite understand what Oshkosh is about, let me try and convey some of the wonder that is Oshkosh.


Oshkosh takes place at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) in Oshkosh Wisconsin.  For a week every year, KOSH becomes the busiest airport on the planet.  Up to 10,000 aircraft come and go over the course of the event and listening to the ATC feed gives you only a hint of how busy they are.  The term “Rock Your Wings” is synonymous with arrival at Oshkosh and getting a “Good rock” response from a controller is a badge of honor for any general aviation pilot who braves the traffic.  People camp in their airplanes, under their airplanes and near their airplanes.  Communities of like aircraft arrive and depart together and gather in groups.  Last year, over 100 Piper Cubs arrived to celebrate an important anniversary and there was a sea of yellow wings in the Vintage area.


Oshkosh celebrates aviation in 3 major areas – Warbirds, Vintage and Homebuilt.  Each group has their own prime real estate for aficionados to meet, gather and celebrate their particular passion. I’m more of a generalist and I’ve gotten smart enough to plan my week to spend a day or more in each area.  In the era of sequestration, the normal military presence will be noticeably absent but the crowds won’t really miss them (at least they won’t acknowledge that they miss them).  Oshkosh veterans can be a little snobbish and will tell you at great length why AirVenture shouldn’t have any modern military or commercial participation.  I’m such a rookie I can say that I will miss not seeing the might of the USAF, Navy and Marines in the air and on the ground.


Two years ago Boeing sent the 787 Dreamliner to Oshkosh to show it off.  Though the news is filled with reports of problems with the ‘87, in 2012 its future looked very bright and the arrival at KOSH was one of the highlights of the week. 1-_DSC3401Last year, the Orbis flying eye hospital made an impressive entrance to the event and stayed for tours.  Oshkosh is known as a showplace for the newest, the oldest, the fastest, the most unusual and simply the most aircraft in one place at the same time. Upwards of 1/2 million people visit Oshkosh during AirVenture.

There will be 8 major airshows during the week – 6 during the day and 2 at night.  There will be movie premieres (Disney’s Planes), live music (Chicago, Gary Sinise, Tony Orlando).  There will be astronauts (Canada’s own Chris Hadfield), there will be veterans’ flights and there will be a thousand other things to do.  My schedule goes from 7 in the morning to approximately 9 in the evening.   I will probably walk close to 100 miles over the course of the week.  I fly in a vintage B-17 bomber on Thursday.  A bunch of us are meeting up at “Camp Bacon” for  an evening meal and I’m bringing the maple syrup.  I’m even up for an award in the Social Media world.

I will be dog tired, I will be hot and I will be in heaven.  Planning on attending?  Look for this goofy hat and grin.  Follow me on Twitter at @eyeno or on Facebook 


Viva Las Vegas

aviation, Flying Is Fun, Travel

Counting down the days until I fly down to Las Vegas for the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) meetings.  It’s my first time to the biggest event of it’s kind bringing performers, coordinators and support providers.

Now of course a trip to Lost Wages can’t be all work.  Saturday night I’m off to see Penn & Teller and early Sunday I board a helicopter for a Grand Canyon trip.  Monday and Wednesday are seminars and in between I’ll be manning the booth for the Jet Aircraft Museum.

Home again

aviation, Flying Is Fun, photo, Travel

Another Swiss trip in the books. 18 of them so far.

Highlight had to be plane spotting at Zurich airport. Singapore Airlines A380 doing the “Kloten Roll”. Just pure luck.

ZRH is world famous for its friendliness to plane spotters. Holes in fences to put the camera lens through dot the perimeter fences. This shot of United on rotation was taken from the “Heliport Grill”.


The 2012 planning begins

aviation, Flying Is Fun, photo, Travel


Still almost 2 months to go before the new year but I’m already antsy to break out the cameras and head out to watch airplanes.

Here in the Great White North (take off eh?) the airshow season cranks up around the beginning of June.  Looks the Waterloo Airshow will be first of the mark in this area with their show on the first weekend of June.

Since that’s a long dry stretch between here and there I took the plunge and made my bookings to attend SUN n FUN in Lakeland Florida at the end of March.

Lakeland is about 1/2 way between Tampa and Orlando and is second only to Oshkosh for Fly-In participation and large crowds of aviation enthusiasts. This event has been on the bucket list for a while so it will be good to cross this one off.

Air Canada flight to Tampa booked (thank you Aeroplan).  Courtyard Marriott in Brandon booked. Rental car booked.  Tickets purchased.  Flying down Monday the 26th and coming home late on April 1.  Sunshine, warm weather and things that fly.  That’s the way to beat the winter blahs!

Auf Wiedersehen Switzerland

aviation, Flying Is Fun, Travel

Many thanks to the crew of Air Canada flight 879 for getting me home yesterday.  Another Swiss trip in the flight log and hopefully the last one for the year.  Outside of turbulence over France it was an uneventful trip and, if you have to fly economy, seat 19K (exit row window) is one of the best.

Here C-FMWY,  a Boeing 767-300ER built in 1996, sits at gate E47 in Zurich just before we boarded.  That makes 14 flights for 2011 for a total of 20,385 miles flown with 49 hours in the air.

Another trip?


Little bit of chatter going around the old saltmine that I might need to make one more business trip this year back to the land of mountains and chocolate.  Powers that be are talking about some meetings in Switzerland.  Frankly, I’d just as soon leave the suitcase in the closet until next year but as long as they’re paying the piper, I’m dancing.

Of course, this hasn’t been a particularly busy business travel year.

More air show pictures loaded and many more to come

aviation, photo, Travel

Now that the season is over it’s time to start going through the thousands of pictures that I’ve taken this year. Under the top picture (handsome dude, right?) there’s a link called “AIR SHOW PHOTOS”. Hover over it and you’ll see a listing of shows. Click on any and you’ll be taken to a separate page where a Picasa slideshow starts. Click on any photo and you see it larger and you’ll be able to navigate through the shots at your own speed. Comments are very, very welcome.