Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oshkosh: Day 2 - The Fabric of our Lives

Since we didn't have the tightly scheduled morning rendezvous that we had yesterday, I let the tired Co-pilot sleep in until 0645. I know that sounds cruel, but keep in mind that we crossed a time zone demarcation on the way up here so that was really more like 0745 to our EDT calibrated circadian rhythms. Not that Egg feels that way about it - early is early to her, and anything else is simply an argument over semantics.

I tried to duplicate my eminently successful parking coup of yesterday but managed to botch the job. I turned into the first available $5 parking, failing to realize the that lot that I had used yesterday was still a good quarter mile down the road and thereby that much closer to the destination. I won't let that happen again tomorrow!

There actually was a little bit of time pressure on me. I wanted to attend the 0830 gas welding workshop. I've always wanted to try welding and this seemed a perfect opportunity. Additionally, I needed a hard and fast excuse to not be walking back and forth to the GWW booth to deliver things to Egg the Booth Babe and/or hiking back to the car to engage in the Oshkosh version of indecent exposure. Sure, I know what you're thinking: what are the odds of getting caught with my pants down (figuratively and literally) in the car two days in a row? Well, here's what I'm thinking: what were the odds of it happening yesterday?? I rest my case.

My feet were killing me after all of that walking yesterday so I decided to lighten my load by carrying only one camera. I also decided to just wear cool clothes from the get-go. That meant I wouldn't need to bring the extra bag. You know, the extra bag that also carried such luxury items as sun screen. For me, forgetting the sun screen is no big deal. I rarely burn. Egg, however, is a different story. She can get sunburn simply by standing in front of an open refrigerator too long. (Sigh. Because of the little light bulb. It's a joke, see?)

I dropped Egg at the exhibition building at 0815. She has an exhibitor badge so she can just stroll right in. I do not. I explained to the volunteer at the door that she is a minor and I wanted to make sure there was an adult at the booth before leaving her there. He couldn't have cared less and just waved me through. After all, why would I lie about something like that? Well, because I didn't want to confess to my actual agenda. I had seen something in there yesterday that I really wanted to get a picture of, and I wanted to do it before the crowds arrived. What could possibly be so compelling you ask?


The idea behind that goofy little gizmo is that you can provide supplemental oxygen to your dog when flying at high altitudes in an unpressurized airplane. It is my firmly held belief that they are completely missing a huge business opportunity by concentrating and what most certainly is a very small niche market. No, I think they should make a human sized version. Why? Have you ever used a week-ripe Port-O-Let? I'd wear one of those things in a heartbeat in a situation like that!

I got my picture and ran off to the welding workshop. The only problem was that it was very nearly 0830 and I couldn't find it! I found the Tig welding demonstration, but I was very much in a hands-on mood; I didn't want to watch someone else weld. As I paged through the handout and saw a grim two hour seminar talking about exciting things like Argon and other inert gases, I saw that right next door they were getting ready to start the fabric covering workshop. I had a picture of that here yesterday - it was those old guys learning how to iron. Good enough for me! I've long thought that I'd like to know how to cover a fabric plane. It was one of the A&P school classes that I was looking forward to taking but they never seemed to offer it.

It was actually quite fun. We started with a bare metal flight surface (probably assembled in the gosh darn gas welding workshop that I couldn't find):

I commented to the older couple next to me that that part must have been covered more times than Michael Jackson's funeral, but got nothing but a grunt. I swear, some people just have no sense of humor. Maybe it was another "No English" couple.

In any event, we spent the next two hours putting Poly-Fiber covering on the metal frame:

It was quite a bit of fun, and my regular readers will know what comes next: I decided right then and there that I absolutely must build or restore an airplane with fabric covering! Right after we finished with the workshop I headed out to look at fabric covered airplanes. These are Pietenpol Campers:

I don't know why they're called 'campers', but if I were to hazard a guess I'd say it's because they do something like 75 mph straight down. You're in the air so long, you might as well be camping up there! Ok, that's just a guess. I'm sure there's a better, less insulting reason.

Being at Oshkosh is a lot like what it must have been like to be stationed at an airbase in England during WWII. You get somewhat inured to the sound of deep, throaty piston airplanes flying overhead. Some folks (not me, of course) even get to the point where they don't even look up to see what's flying over. Fortunately, I still look up. As I was looking at the Pietenpols, a deep rumbling formation flew overhead. Lo and behold, it was the world record setting 37 ship RV formation, led by none other than Stu McCurdy who you may remember from yesterday's lunch. He was sitting right behind Popeye the Co-pilot as she ate her spinach salad. (Caesar salad, actually, but just look at that face and tell me you don't think 'Popeye')

From a different angle:

Photo also from a different, unknown source. I shamelessly purloined it from VansAirForce.NET

Right around that time I received a text message from a hungry booth babe. As I was walking over to the GWW booth to retrieve her, I was reminded of the old joke that held that 'Ford' was actually an acronym for Fix Or Repair Daily, or as others would say, Found On Road Dead. See, they were pushing this old broken down Ford:

As I was limping along lamenting the poor state of my tired feet, I got a glimpse of how the other half live:

Ha! And I get called a wimp for staying in a hotel! Geez, that kid has it made!

When I arrived at the Girls With Wings booth, Lynda caught me to tell me that she was thrilled with all of the help she was getting from my Co-pilot. In fact, she said that Egg was very good at everything, with the exception of folding T-shirts properly. I figure that she comes by that deficiency naturally, though. It's probably one of those genetic traits that she got from me.

Egg and I then headed over to the food tent, only to be confronted with a line that looked to be at least an hour long. I sent her ahead to reconnoiter the menu and was actually somewhat happy when she returned with the message that there was nothing she wanted. She'd wait and have McDonald's on the way back to the hotel. Fine by me! I suggested that we instead go look at Warbirds. Here's a very spiffy P-40:

While we were wandering around, I received a text message from home notifying me that the Co-owner's cousin the airline pilot just happened to be at Oshkosh too, and that we were welcome to go visit him at his booth over in the Fly Market. He sells airplane tugs as a little bit of side work. As we were walking over, the Airbus A380 arrived. Since cousin Bill recently moved from the venerable Boeing 737 into the Airbus A320 (I think he got tired of thinking for himself and decided to just let the Electric Jet do all the work instead) I figured he'd have some interesting observations about the massive A380. Pretty impressed with it, he was.

And since I finally had someone knowledgeable to ask, I finally got around to learning what that horrible noise that Airbus jets make as they taxi from the jetway to the runway: it's a PTU, or Power Transfer Unit. The PTU is mechanical pump that links the yellow and the green hydraulic systems. It is energized when either system has been turned off (ex: when one engine is off which they sometimes do to save fuel while taxiing) and it produces a loud high frequency noise when it turns and produces 3000 psi hydraulic pressure for the opposite system. Basically it means that a single engine can't always produce the full 3000psi hydraulic pressure, so the PTU starts itself up to make up the difference.

Or something like that. It's a French thing - you wouldn't understand.

We finally found Bill and Mary Jane deep in the rows of the Fly Market:

We socialized for awhile before heading back to the car for our return to the West Bend data center:

Then, of course, there was dinner. Egg and I are getting to the point where our solvency is being challenged by eating at cash-only fast food joints. We desperately needed a meal that could be paid for with a Visa card. Lucky for us, Jim and Lisa were in town for their annual Oshkosh visit. Regular readers might remember them from the time they flew their gorgeous Mooney down to Columbus to partake in some JP's ribs. Tonight we went to the Riverside Restaurant in downtown West Bend. It was fantastic! I had a blackened Angus (are there any other kind of Angus? Aren't all Angus assumed to be black??) Prime Rib sandwich and a Dizzy Blond Weissen beer to accompany it. Delicious! We also shared a basket of beer battered deep fried cheese curds. Only in Wisconsin! Were they ever amazing!

If anyone is still wondering why I stay in a hotel rather than camp, let this be my final answer: when we got back to the hotel, we changed clothes and went down to the heated whirlpool to relax our aching muscles. Try that in Camp Scholler!


  1. the problem with assumetions....
    have a great week, i will be checking in every day and be with you in spirit at least.

  2. For what it's worth, that French PTU is a 2-sided hydraulic pump that operates between the two hydraulic systems. The system with the greater hydraulic pressure operates the pump. If one engine fails, the hydraulic pressure from the operating engine powers the pump and pressurizes the inoperative side. They try to do the same thing when the engines are shut down at the gate. Makes it sound like the airplane is slowly dying.