Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Acro Conditioning and Shooting Video

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Got up for 1.1 in the Super-D with Barry yesterday. Started out with a 5,000-foot overcast, but that was plenty of vertical room for acro and the overcast moved out toward the end and we had sunny skies.

Tolerance is getting better. We had a break in the action to take care of the oil door about halfway through, but generally got some good acro time. Loops, rolls, hammerhead, four-point rolls, and some inverted. All designed to keep building the tolerance. The inverted is what gets me, so we’re saving that for the end of each session. Didn’t feel as ragged out this time, which is a good sign.

+3.5/-1.5G. Not pushing for the gee tolerance. I’m fine with up to 4.0 and that’s about the unassisted equivalent of what I expect to pull in May (assisted by a gee suit, which adds +2.5G to +3.0G to one’s tolerance) In fact, lower gees for these maneuvers is a pretty decent proxy for the smoothness that I’m developing.

I’ve also been very pleased with the video so far. The camera mount is working well and giving really good angles, especially now that I’m including more of the view out the side and roof windows to give a better sense of the motion. Once I get some time, I’ll start editing and putting together the music.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Acro Tolerance Going to Two a Week

This is a regular blog post.  If you're looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Just a short update.  I'm scheduled to go up with Barry in the Super D for acro twice a week between now and mid-May, when I've scheduled the T-6A Texan II flight down at Randolph AFB.  The weather's not looking too promising for today's flight, but I'll be there and preflighted at the appointed hour and we'll make a go/no-go decision then.

Tolerance at the moment is an abysmal 20 minutes, so it's imperative that I get up and inverted a lot between now and mid-May.  Above is a frame grab of the video that I shot the week before last.  The camera is working well and I'm pretty excited about how things are going so far.  Look for more video episodes soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sun 'N Fun 2009 - Saturday and Sunday

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Ella and I are back from Sun ‘N Fun 2009 and a side trip to Kennedy Space Center. Heck of a good time.

Ella’s least favorite (and one of my most favorite) of the day was the USN F/A-18F Super Hornet East Demo Team, shown above in the Heritage Flight phase of the flight. Sun ‘N Fun is a little easier to photograph because the sun is a bit more behind you and you can shoot to the right from the announcer’s stand and get a much better sun angle than some other venues.

Matt Chapman flew his Eagle 580 to the edges of the envelope again. Really nice low-energy maneuvers and masterful handling of the aircraft. I’m not sure that many of those watching really understand what it takes to do some of the really slow stuff, but I was amazed. Embry-Riddle Eagle 580. Lycoming IO-580 engine, 330hp. 1,300 lbs. 400 degrees/second roll rate. +/- 10 gees. Yeah!

The Uncontrolled Airspace team was in full attendance for two episodes of its show and to run the Gathering of Aviation Podcasters on Friday. Good to see Jack, Jeb, and Dave all in one place!

Ella and I took Sunday and headed over to Kennedy Space Center. She’s not huge into the whole space thing, but, then again, she’s four years old and was a champ about everything. Here she is in the rocket garden just after arriving. There’s a dearth of family rest rooms throughout the center (rough for daddy-daughter pairs trying to navigate the premises), so we rode the fine line between not needing the facilities too often and dehydration.

I have pictures of her with the Saturn V from a January 2006 visit to KSC when she was 13 months old. I took another few of her in roughly the same position at the aft end of the first stage for comparison and I think we’re going to try to keep doing that for years to some. In the meantime. Here’s one of the both of us (which might also develop into a tradition).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Second Day at Sun 'N Fun

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Day two here at Sun ‘N Fun in Lakeland, Florida. We got up at 4:30 a.m. yesterday to make the flight to Orlando and didn’t get to the hotel until around 10:00, so no blog post yesterday.

But we’re back at a reasonable time tonight, so here are a few views of the day.

Rod Rakic, the mastermind behind, got to hold Sean Tucker’s pole (at least one of them) for one of the ribbon cuts at the show today. Ella and I talked our way up onto the announcer’s stand and shot this picture of the moment. That’s Rod in the orange shirt holding the near pole.

Yesterday, we hit the Splash-In at the Fantasy of Flight museum on the way to Lakepand. We hooked up with Will Hawkins and Rico Sharqawi of Wilco Films and got to help set up for Kermit Weeks’ interview for A Pilot’s Story. Ella was the stand-in for Kermit during the setup phase.

The Viper East Demo Team was there with a single-ship F-16 demonstration. I shot what I could of the demo, but this was the first time I could get really close to the announcer end of the presentation. Here, the major is handling the communications with the aircraft during the demo while the chief did the announcing.

Be sure to join me on the Sun ‘N Fun Radio porch tomorrow right after the airshow (approx. 5:30) for the very first live rendition of Airspeed! I’ll tweet as we get close to airtime. See you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This I Believe

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

I’m trying to put things to bed at work so I can get down to Lakeland and Sun ‘N Fun. But, being that I’m going to be recording a show live on the air for the first time (at the Sun ‘N Fun Radio patio on Saturday 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET), I’ve also been working up a couple of things to use for that show.

I once read a piece by Robert A. Heinlein in a collection of his stuff. It was called This I Believe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Heinlein’s essay was probably written for the five-minute CBS Radio Network program of the same name, hosted by Edward R. Murrow from 1951 to 1955. NPR revived the series a couple of years ago.

I don’t know if Heinlein’s essay ever made it on the air, but it got me thinking that I should try to write one as well. It’s not as good as Heinlein’s but it’s mine.

I’m thinking about reading it on the show at Sun ‘N Fun on Saturday, so you can think of this as a blog-only exclusive preview.

I’ll see you down at Sun ‘N Fun!

I believe in altitude, airspeed, and options. And that we don’t spend enough time thinking about options.

I believe that the Hobbs meter should run backward when the aircraft is inverted.

I believe that 100LL on your hands during preflight on a blustery January day in Michigan is the coldest substance in the universe.

I believe that pilots, musicians, actors, composers, and others like them do a special thing in an environment hostile to dreamers.

I believe in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and all who preceded them and all who will succeed them.

I believe in Joseph McConnell, Jr.

I believe that there is no courage in facing a thing of which you are not afraid. The bravest thing you will ever do is to face a thing of which you are afraid when the only person driving you to do it is you. When you could back out without anyone else knowing. Where the dream is a gnat’s ass larger than the fear.

I believe in Fletcher Lynd Seagull.

I believe that you should go ahead and cry when you hit a rough spot or get discouraged. If it’s not worth crying about when you run into a rough spot, it wasn’t worth doing in the first place. And I believe that you shouldn’t take on projects that aren’t worth crying about if you fail.

I believe in the patient competence of nurses.

I believe that, short of a guy who has actually bent your airplane, there are vanishingly few line personnel or gas jocks who aren’t deserving of a $5 tip before you climb back into the aircraft.

I believe that all of our eggs are in one basket and that it is a species imperative that we place live, walking homo sapiens DNA on other celestial bodies as soon as practicable. I hereby volunteer for Luna, Mars, or such other destination as becomes available.

I believe in the Mercury 13.

I believe that the mainstream media is hopeless, will never understand aviation or any other science, will never really try, doesn’t care, and will continue to be our worst bugaboo in our ongoing quest for legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

I believe in anyone who has washed, marshaled, fueled, or maintained aircraft in trade for flight time.

I believe that no flight instructor should ever have to pay for lunch or beer.

I believe that anyone who has sat in an airplane all alone, firewalled the throttle, and rotated is a pilot, regardless of whether any certificate says so.

I believe in actual IMC and those who seek it as an environment in which to train.

I believe in Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, Bell’s Oberon, and Maker’s Mark. I have no idea why anyone would put Scotch of any kind into his mouth, but I will concede the inexplicable levelheadedness, pragmatism, and solidity of almost every person I know who likes that sort of thing.

I believe that picking a landmark on a map and then locating it out the window – in that order – is a great way to fly cross country. And that that order of operations is the worst possible way to do science.

I believe that, when it comes to truth, there’s no such thing as no harm, no foul. Veritas! Veritas! Veritas! Pascal’s Wager is for the lazy and the criminally self-deceiving.

I believe that moderates in a wrong-headed doctrine make it okay for the extremists.

I believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I believe in whatever altitude lets you drag the gear in the top of the overcast layer.

I believe in leaving the beacon and nav lights on and looking at the airplane one last time before you get in the car to make sure that the master switch is off.

I believe that anything worth writing should go over the head of at least 50% of any general audience. Otherwise you reduce the writing to mediocrity. An audience that must be spoon fed and refuses to learn through context is not worth writing for.

I believe in telling approach that, not only do you have the Mooney in sight, but she’s gorgeous against those scattered cumulous clouds.

I believe in Tom Hanks.

I believe that you should always return the courtesy car with a full tank.

I believe that, if you can do so while having adequate reserves, you should leave room in the tanks of your airplane to buy fuel at the smallest field at which you land.

I believe that there is no volume at which one could play the music of Aaron Copland or David Kneupper that is “too loud.”

I believe in the patient and noble service of members of the armed services. I disagree from time to time with the policies of the elected officials who direct the actions of the military, but I will never look askance at the pilots, maintainers, and others who follow difficult orders under trying circumstances. I believe that it is out patriotic duty to read everything we can get our hands on, engage in public discourse, and thoroughly vet candidates for elective or appointive offices who would presume to command or direct such men and women as these. Thus – and only thus – will we preserve our civil society.

I believe in taking children to airports.

I believe that there is no other demographic like “pilot” that is more likely to identify competent, kind, and skilled people who will give you the shirt off their backs, their last quart of oil, a couch for the night, a jump start in the parking lot in the middle of the night, or directions to a good restaurant and I’m so proud to be one that I can barely stand it.

This I believe with all my heart.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SETI with Dr. Jill Tarter

Subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your favorite other podcatcher. It's all free!

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen online right here by clicking:

This time on Airspeed, we talk to The SETI Institute's Dr. Jill Tarter about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and how we can get involved.

More information about the institute:

SETI Institute
515 N. Whisman Road
Mountain View, CA 94043
Radio show/Podcast
Volunteer opportunities

More information about Dr. Tarter:

TED Prize address

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CAP G1000 - Scenario 2 Flying the Glass

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

4.5 behind the glass yesterday. This was Flight Scenario 2 in a four-flight series learning to fly a CAP Cessna 182T Nav III with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. We launched around 4:00 local and got back around 9:00 with a break at KJXN for fuel and bio break.

A pretty exhaustive flight. From KPTK up to KBAX with the RNAV 22 and published miss and hold, over to KMBS with the ILS and published miss, then to KJXN for the VOR 24 before heading back to KPTK for the LOC B/C for 27L. The idea here was for me to do most or all of the flying and the operation of the G100 and the GFC 700 autopilot.

This I did. I competently navigated the aircraft, but clearly have a bit of learning to do when nonstandard stuff happens. I was fine when Cleveland Center routed us over to the Peck VOR (ECK) instead of giving us a couple of intersections for which I had asked. It has something to do with the limitation of radar coverage by Cleveland Center over there in Michigan’s thumb.

The issues I’m having have largely to do with how to pick up an approach from various places, including how to get the airplane to fly an approach from some intermediate point on the approach. I’m fine if I’m going to fly the thing full-procedure from the IAF. But the moment a controller tries to be helpful and set me up for something less than the full procedure, everything goes to hell and I end up flying it with the heading bug and controlling the VNAV myself with the VS key and the Nose Up/Nose Down. I know that the avionics are capable of doing a lot more than I’m squeezing out of them and that’s both frustrating and a motivation to hit the books and the Garmin-provided PC Trainer to nail it down before the next flight.

As ever, Michigan Wing check airman Capt Tim Kramer was there in the right seat. A lot more quiet this time, as is appropriate for this scenario. Tim did a lot of explaining on the first scenario flight last week. This week was all about letting me figure out when I had problems and at least describe the problem, if not fix it.

I’m having that slightly bewildered feeling that usually proceeds a few critical “a-hah!” moments. I’m going to spend some more time with the manual and the PC Trainer to see if I can work out these kinks. I really want to competently fly the next flight with the avionics taking me all the way to minima. Because I’m also going to have to deal with failures and related stuff on that next flight and I really need to have my poop in a group on the fully-functional platform before dealing with failures.

The plan is to fly Scenario 3 and then do a fourth flight to put it all together and get the rest of my CAP-required 25 landings before the Form 5 checkride with the wing check airman. I’m planning to fly with LtCol Leo Burke, with whom I’ve not yet flown, the better to get to know him and to fly with as many of the wing check airmen as possible. You learn something new every time you fly with a different check airman and I’m looking forward to that, too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

First Flight in the Super Decathlon

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Okay, there’s aerobatics. Then there’s aerobatics in the American Champion Super Decathlon. Holy crap!

I’ve been flying the Citabria Aurora at Sutton Aviation since last April. No flies on the Citabria and I really like that airplane. 118 hp and great flight characteristics. But the Super-D has 180 hp, about 2.5-ft shorter wings, inverted fuel and oil systems, and a constant speed prop.

The Super-D has enough power and maneuverability to really rag you out if you want to go up and do that. And that’s exactly what I set out to do yesterday. I have a military demo flight scheduled for May and I need to go up and start rebuilding my acro tolerance so I’m good to go for the flight. Not that I have any problem hurling when it’s called for after a reasonable amount of maneuvering, but my tolerance is way down from last year. That’s okay. Even airshow performers have to build up after a long winter by flying progressively longer aerobatic sessions.

My tolerance is at about 20 minutes with some breaks between maneuvers. The best I’ve ever had was about an hour straight last right after the Thunderbirds ride. The goal is to try to fly every week or so between now and mid-may to build that tolerance back to an hour.

And the Super-D is the right platform for that. Because of the better power and the inverted systems, Barry Sutton, my acro instructor, added the Immelman (a half loop after which you roll right side up at the top), knife-edge flight (rolling to 90 degrees of bank and then kicking in all of the top rudder to fly sideways), four-point rolls (stopping the roll at 90, inverted, and the other 90 before rolling wings level), and rapid aileron rolls. We also did a hammerhead.

The Super-D makes the old maneuvers more intense because the additional power means that you can do aileron rolls in level flight without losing lots of altitude as with the Citabria and you get a lot more hang with the hammerheads. You can’t quite helicopter up there with two full-size humans in the aircraft, but you get a lot of hang. And the Super-D makes the new maneuvers possible, mostly because you can add sustained inverted flight to the repertoire.

I’m looking forward to flying this aircraft a lot more over the next few weeks!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Flying the CAP Cessna 182T - Capt Force Transitions to Glass

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

I’ve begin training on the new CAP Cessna 182T Nav III, which is to say a gorgeous 14-month, 450-hour old Cessna 182 with the complete Garmin G1000/GFC 700 avionics system with Capt Tim Kramer, one of the Michigan Wing’s check airmen. Tim is a real evangelist for the glass system and he’s put something like 15 Michigan Wing pilots through the training in the last year or so. He approached me about getting qualified in it and I jumped at the chance.

It’s a great airplane and it’s very capable. It’ll do everything from cruise at 600 AGL at 90 KIAS to haul hiney at 135 KIAS at 10,000 MSL, all while essentially flying itself to ATP standards.

I’m an approx. 230-hour pilot with (as it pertains to this kind of flying) an instrument rating and complex and high-performance endorsements. And I’m as competent with electronic systems as anyone I know. I was the only primary student that Eamon Burgess ever had from whom Eamon had to take away the VORs. But the G1000 is another animal entirely.

The idea with the G1000 is to give the airplane to the autopilot at 800 AGL and let the autopilot fly her until you’re at minimums. Which means a whole new level of understanding the systems and a whole new way of looking at flying. First, I have to know the systems a lot better than I’ve known systems on simpler aircraft in the past. And, most counterintuitive and new of all, I have to become an airplane manager in flight.

That’s right. You give the airplane to the autopilot and then you monitor and manage it en route. For a guy who’s spent most of the last six or seven years hand-flying airplanes and having instructors ignore the autopilot (even where the airplane has an autopilot in the first place), it’s a really new experience.

But it makes a lot of sense. CAP is a professionally-run organization with big shoes (er, boots) to fill. We do 95% of all Air Force supervised inland search and rescue in the United States and we need all of the sophisticated tools we can get. This airplane will help a competent pilot get to and from the search area quickly, accurately, and efficiently and it’ll fly the search pattern automatically to ATP standards. Then it’ll get everybody home for crew rest and to prep for the next sortie. If I’m going to be a valuable asset to the squadron, I need to be able to operate this aircraft to its full capabilities and that’s what this training is all about.

And, even if I was just flying CAP’s aircraft for selfish reasons, I’d still want to learn to fly the glass. It’ll be awhile before it becomes hard to find round-gage aircraft to rent, but the time is coming and you need to be comfortable with glass if you expect to fly long-term.

The training is very involved, but I’m doing it right. I did a full day in the classroom last year and then Capt Kramer and I spent four hours on the ramp with a ground power unit going over the systems. Only after that did we launch. We did an approx. 200-mile four-point trip around the state last week VFR. Gorgeous day and I learned a lot about the airplane. Friday, we file and do roughly the same thing IFR (I'm planning KPTK KBAX KMBS KJXN KPTK). The third flight will be IFR with gage and system failures. Then the Form 5 checkride in the airplane, probably with LtCol Leo Burke, with whom I have not flown yet.

I’m excited about learning to fly and manage this aircraft. And, by the way, as a Civil Air Patrol pilot, I fly this gorgeous airplane for about $38/hour dry (and fuel runs about 14 gallons/hour – call it $56/hour at $4.00/gal.). You can’t rent a beat-up C-172 wet for $94/hour! And I only pay to fly CAP aircraft when the Air Force isn’t paying for my flights. And the Air Force pays for a fair amount of flying.

If you’re a US pilot and not in the US Civil Air Patrol, what the heck are you thinking? Truly! What the heck are you thinking? Yeah, you! Check out for information and a unit near you.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Eleanor Flies

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These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen online right here by clicking:

Okay, this might be overshare, but I thought that I’d share it anyway. Not a lot of 100LL or JP-8 in this episode, but maybe some hypergolics and other propellants.

I grew up with folk music of many kinds. My godfather is a folk musician who occupied my parents' couch for some time in the 1960s. Both of my parents made genuine attempts to play and sing, even if they never bought into a lot of the words.

If you don’t know what a hootenanny or fake book is, then you and I probably came away from the movie A Mighty Wind with much different impressions. I lived a little of that. Yes, some of the music in my housewas a form of child abuse. But the rest was amazing. I was ten years old before I realized that Tom Paxton, Tom Rush, and Bob Gibson weren’t necessarily household names.

I got my first guitar at the age of six. I started alto sax at 10. Drums at 12. I’ve never become particularly good at any instrument but, in the course of the last 20 years or so, I’ve become passable on about a dozen instruments.

About five years ago, I began collecting small instruments. I like them because they’re portable and I like the sounds that most of them make. I think that the mandolin is about the sweetest-sounding instrument on (or off) the planet. I’m not very good at it, but I amuse myself with it. That’s me on mando on the theme music, by the way. I also picked up a set of shuttlepipes, a very small version of the bagpipes with a concert A chanter and two drones encased in a box about the size and shape of a baking power can.

If you were at Firebase Airspeed over the last two years at Oshkosh, you know that I usually pack up six or seven small instruments and bring them along in the hopes of launching ad hoc jam sessions of the kind that erupted when Jason Miller, Kent Shook, and others visited one night.

About five years ago, I was thinking about interplanetary travel. As busy as the first mission to Mars is going to be at times, it’s also going to be very boring at times, especially in the cruise phase to and from the red planet. That would make for exactly the kinds of gaps and spaces in which pioneers and voyageurs of all ages have written, played, and sung enduring folk music.

Hey, what would the folk music of a journey to mars and back be like? The instruments would have to be small enough and light enough that the astronauts could take them along in their personal volume and mass allotments (and we’re talking about decisions like cutting off all of your hair so you can take along an extra set of mandolin strings). And you couldn’t really use instruments that you couldn’t effectively play in microgravity.

So I kept on acquiring little instruments when the opportunity arose. Like the Ashbory bass with its 18” scale length and silicone strings. Or the Kikkerland hand-cranked music box mechanism that comes with paper tapes that you punch and then crank them through the music box.

So I decided to do an album project. Songs from the Sheffield: The First Folk Music of the Journey to Mars and Back. Theme from Milliways, which you heard in the last music episode, was the first tune and I need to re-record that on the smaller instruments for the project.

With a busy work schedule, flight training, airshows, and a great family, I’m generally too busy to lower myself into the musical well for more than about a song at a time. I know, cry me a river, Steve. Everybody’s busy.

But in November of 2007, I heard a piece on PRI’s Studio 360 about The MacDowell Colony. It’s the oldest artists’ colony in north America. It’s located on more than 400 acres near Peterborough, New Hampshire. The application process is tough and I gather that about one in eight applicants are accepted. But, if you get a residency, you get a studio out in the woods for between two and eight weeks do your art. No phone. No cellular signal. No other buildings within sight. A magical person named Blake Tewksbury sneaks up to your studio door at lunch time and leaves a picnic basket for you. In the evenings, you head to the main house and have dinner with the other artists, who might be composers, novelists, architects, painters – you name it.

Who knows. You might get the studio where Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town. Or the studio where Aaron Copland wrote Billy the Kid. Check out the short film MacDowell Moments at the colony's website for a great overview.

Or you might get the studio where Steve wrote that piece that gets played after dinner all the time in the crew quarters on the way back from Mars.

That’s the idea, anyway. I’ve been planning for more than a year to apply for a residency and this is it. The deadline is April 15 and I’m putting the finishing touches on the application right now.

It seems unlikely that I’ll actually get in, especially in light of the caliber of the artists that they usually choose. But a MacDowell residency with that two weeks of solid, solitary, and protected opportunity seems to be the only chance of getting it all out of my head, on paper, and onto a hard drive. Can you imagine two weeks in a studio in the woods fully of tiny instruments, a few microphones, and a MacBook Pro?

I’m applying as an interdisciplinary artist and I have to submit two samples of my work. Sometimes Alternates Fly is going to be one. I thought that the other should be an example of the kind of song that I’m going to write. There are going to be raucous songs making fun of flight surgeons and noble ballads about exploration, but the one that immediately came to mind deals with the long separation from friends and family that any interplanetary journey necessarily involves.

It’s called Eleanor Flies and it comes directly from imagining how I’d feel if I were on the outbound leg of a Mars mission, having recently left my four-year-old daughter, Ella, (pictured at the top of this blog entry) knowing that she’d be pushing seven before I returned.

As will shortly become clear from the demo recording, I’m not applying to MacDowell as a vocalist. Or a performing musician for that matter. The instrumental parts are a little rough and my furnace decided to add a little realism to the session by dying the night before I started recording. I recorded the whole thing crouched in front of a little electric space heater. But, then again, this project is about imagining the constraints of making music in the process of making the big journey. Taking the next step. The people who will play and sing whatever music comes out of the trip will, after all, be pilots and mission specialists first and musicians second, if at all.

Maybe a lawyer and pilot crouched in his basement over a space heater cranking a music box mechanism on a banjo head or trying to get his fingers to work in the cold while playing mandolin is a pretty good proxy for what we can expect. Regardless, I know for sure that it’s a good proxy for those who dream a little harder than most about this stuff and care about it more than they can say among the usual cocktail crowd that they encounter.

So take a seat right over here on the bulkhead in Cargo Area Charlie. I know it looks like a suburban basement with a tangle of cables running all over the place and a little space heater in the middle.

But close your eyes and imagine with me. It’s not hard. I know.

This is Eleanor Flies.

Download a full 256 MP3 version of the song here:

Friday, April 03, 2009

Indianapolis Airshow and Indy Transponder with Roger Bishop

Subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your favorite other podcatcher. It's all free!

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen online right here by clicking:

It’s time for the annual Airspeed prelude to the airshow season! This year, we talk to Roger Bishop, the chairman of the Indianapolis Airshow.

Many of us go to airshows, but too few of us appreciate what goes on months and even years before show day to bring you the experience. We got the inside story from Roger about what it’s like to schedule acts, attend the ICAS meeting, coordinate volunteers, plan for general aviation arrivals and departures, and make the whole thing come together seamlessly on the show days.

Roger is also heavily involved with the Indy Transponder, a premier aerotainment news and information site and we talk about what goes into maintaining and growing that resource.

More information about the Indianapolis Airshow

Indianapolis Airshow website:
Volunteer opportunities:
Maps and driving directions:
Contact information:

Thursday, April 02, 2009

MacDowell Piece Takes Shape

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other entries.

Crunch time yet again! I’m applying for a residency at The MacDowell Colony, North America’s oldest artist’s colony. It’s located on 400-odd acres near Peterboro, New Hampshire. At MacDowell, they give you a studio (read: cottage, barn, or similar structure appropriate to your particular art) and between two and eight weeks to just soak in your creative juices. No phone, no pool, no pets.

A mysterious guy named Blake sneaks up to your door and leaves a picnic basket at lunch time. You head to the main house for dinner and chow down with the other artists in residence and feed off of their energies. For a really great encapsulation of the experience, check out the December 14, 2007 installment of PRI’s Studio 360 or head to the colony’s website and watch the short feature MacDowell Moments.

Anyway, I’m applying as an interdisciplinary artist to write a series of folk songs and essays imagining the first folk music of the journey to Mars and back. All composed on instruments not larger or more massive than what an actual crew member would be expected to be able to take along in his or her personal volume and mass allotment. For me, that means, travel guitar, mandolin, Ashbory bass, music box mechanism, tin whistles, xaphoon, and other small instruments.

I have to submit two pieces of my work along with the application. Sometimes Alternates Fly seems a no-brainer. The other will be a song of the kind that I intend to write there at MacDowell. The song, Eleanor Flies, finally made it into a tangible medium this weekend and I sent the tracks to Scott Cannizzaro on Sunday to mix. We’re through two mixes so far and I think Scott’s going to finalize it today. Then I burn it onto CDs, do the written parts of the application (actually, finish them – I’ve been writing pits and pieces since early 2008), and send the whole thing to Peterboro.

Shown above is Scott’s workspace for the mix. It’s kind of cool to see the whole thing as waveforms. His skills are well in excess of anything of which the music is worthy and I’m really glad to have access to his services.

I’ll post the song here and/or to the show sometime soon. Probably after the application is complete.