Monday, July 26, 2010

Oshkosh 2010 - Day 1

After a restless night of sleep interrupted by the constant on/off cycle of the room air conditioner ("Cry me a river!" yell the campers) and a filling if not overly palatable breakfast at the hotel, Egg and I headed north for our first day at Oshkosh. It's an easy drive, but once off the highway and on the road to the parking lots a stream of drivers that were seemingly convinced that we were all in competition for the only three parking spots left on the entire airport and that letting me over in front of them would dangerously reduce their odds of scoring one stood between us and our desired lot. Finally a kind fellow in a pick-up truck gave us a break and we were able to park in our usual non-EAA lot. We park there because Egg likes the kid that waves the attention-getting flag and the lot is close to the exhibit building she's working in. Besides, it's the same price as the EAA lots and I like helping out the poor guy that has to suffer this massive invasion of his neighborhood each year. The pick-up truck guy that had finally allowed us over to the lane we needed pulled in and parked  right next to us and we shared a laugh at the expense of our less civilized brethren of the roads.

We had purchased our tickets online, and that is definitely the way to go.  While the masses of "wait-until-we-get-there" folks stood in a massive queue, Egg and I went right up to the special window for those who had used the online option and were done in moments.I dropped Egg off at the Girls With Wings booth and headed off on my daily missions.

First was to start gathering pictures of retro paint jobs to assist in making the eventual decision  as to how to paint the RV-12. I gathered up quite a few during the day, but the first was right outside the building where Egg was working.

My next stop was over at the Van's Aircraft tent where I had hoped to get a look at a RV-12 they had on display. For some reason Van's is considering selling quick build RV-12s, or so I hear. At first glance that seemed like a pretty ludicrous idea to me given how quickly the -12 goes together anyway, but after giving it some thought I can see how it would appeal to others. It's easy for me to forget that I have the luxury of a flying RV and that many, many others that are not so blessed are anxious to get into the air in one of these sprightly little airplanes. As I was peeking around the display plane doing what I swore I'd never do (comparing the quality of workmanship, if you must know. I'm ashamed...),  I noticed an older fellow standing beside me. Why, it's the man himself!

I didn't hang around there very long. It gets crowded very quickly. As I continued my walkabout, I came across a new entry in the Ugliest LSA competition:

Oh my!

But as luck would have it, a couple of fine looking Stearmans were on their way out to do some flying.

Figuring that Egg would be in full swing back at the booth by that time, I worked my way back over there for a visit. Just as a matter of dumb luck, one of the booths that I was going to go hunting for later in the week was in the same aisle as Girls With Wings.

My boy Cabot is in for a real treat when I get home! Now that I have hearing protection for him and he has gotten used to wearing his harness, he's going flying with me.

As predicted, Egg was already dealing with a massive influx of customers. I think GWW is going to do very well this year.

Having verified that she was doing okay, I headed back out. I might have mentioned last year that the EAA annual extravaganza is getting ever closer to being all too extravagant for my tastes, and I feel it even more so this year. VIPs zipping around in golf carts and feasting in air-conditioned private tents, major airplane manufacturers selling business jets, and homogenized food concessions with a monopoly that ensures that the same bland food is ubiquitously available across the entire show may be good for EAA, but it all serves to leach away some of the grassroots feeling of the annual event. I seek out pockets of the old EAA whenever possible. Last year it was the seaplane base. This year it was the museum area. I hoofed my way over there, ducking under the incessant stream of $40 a ride helicopters.

I found what I was looking for. It was a veritable treasure trove of retro paint schemes.

This is also the area that best serves families with children. One of the tenets of EAA is education, and this is where it happens. They have an entire hangar full of booths where EAA volunteers spend their precious time at Oshkosh teaching kids about airplanes and piloting. Just as I was thinking that I ought to bring Egg over when she was done working the booth, she texted me to tell me that she'd be done at 1:00. I walked back across the airport to get her and we rode a shuttle bus back to the museum side. I guess extravagance isn't all bad.

She spent a couple of hours learning how to do all kinds of airplane stuff.

First up was riveting:

Then it was on to blind riveting. I hung around close enough to hear what the instructor was telling her and ended up learning a few things that I didn't know myself. Ironically, they were using an RV-12 wing for their training aid. She pulled a dozen or so rivets.

Then she learned about torque wrenches.

Followed by a quick introduction to safety wiring. There'd be more of that later, including an extremely important lesson.

She got to remove and replace a cylinder.

And learned what it feels like in the pit of your stomach when you find yourself with left over parts.

Then she removed and replaced a brake caliper.

Just before doing the brake job, she had another try at safety wiring. This is where she learned something critical about safety wire: there's nothing safe about it at all! It's sharp and pointy and always, ALWAYS trying to bite you. See her thumb? Ouch!

The nifty name badge is what she made in the riveting class. I'd kind of like one of those myself!


  1. Looks like you can just about farm out your maintenance on the RV-12!

  2. Hi there Dave! I have really been enjoying your blog but haven't commented for quite a while. I hope that you enjoy your OshKosh this year but I must caution you on your hasty judgment on the ugliest airplane thing. Take a closer look at the profile of that particular aircraft... then try to imagine which one of your children might just relate to it. I'm just puttin it out there.