Saturday, May 30, 2009

Video from the First Acro Session in the Super Decathlon

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These are the show notes to a video episode. You can watch online right here by clicking on this direct link.

It’s here! The second full-up Airspeed video episode!

These are highlights from my first flight in the American Champion Super Decathlon. I had flown the Citabria with some frequency in 2007 and had a couple of flights in that aircraft in 2009, but this was the first Super-D flight.

By this time (April 16, 2009), I had received word that my T-6A Texan II ride had been approved and I knew that is was going to be sometime in May. So I got out to the airport and flew acro aggressively to condition myself for the Texan ride. I wanted to be able to fully experience that ride and motion sickness can be such a buzzkill, in addition to making the coverage for you guys pretty lame.

So I headed out to Sutton Aviation and set up an acro program with Barry Sutton where I’d train as aggressively as I could and try to build my endurance for the T-6A ride. Toward the end, I was flying twice a week and getting a pretty solid 25-40 minutes of maneuvering each time. But this flight was pretty short. I rag-dolled myself pretty quickly, both because I was just getting my tolerance back after a long winter and because this aircraft is a lot more powerful and maneuverable and I was able to throw myself around the sky a lot more aggressively.

Anyway, here’s the video. For those to prefer, or miss, the audio episodes, I have more in the pipeline. I’m out on the patio this evening writing the script for the seaplane episode. And I go into the studio in a few weeks to record the music for the T-6A episode (provided that I’ve finished writing it by then).

Be sure to catch me at the Indianapolis Air Show next weekend. I’ll be there Thursday through Sunday. I’m doing a presentation for the Civil Air Patrol at Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria in Greenwood, Indiana 6:00 – 9:00 and I’m thinking about having an Airspeed meetup/Tweetup at Damon’s in the Holiday Inn Indianapolis East on Friday at 7:00. Watch my Twitter feed for details and to confirm before showing up.

Contact information for Sutton Aviation, where you can fly this airplane with Barry Sutton:

Sutton Aviation, Inc.
Oakland County International Airport
6230 North Service Drive - Waterford, Michigan 48327

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Revised 2009 Airshow Season Coverage

This is a regular blog post. You can fild show mores and links to show audio in the other posts.

Airspeed has revised its airshow coverage schedule for 2009. Look for Stephen Force strolling the grounds, MP3 recorder and camera in hand and wild look in his eyes at these premier US airshows.

Indianapolis Air Show – 4-7 June (with CAP squadron event appearance Thursday 4 June at Jonathon Byrd's - 100 Byrd Way, Exit 99 off I-65, Greenwood, Indiana 46142 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.)

Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival – 2-5 July

Thunder Over Michigan 18-19 July 2009 (with Cole and Ella Force)

AirVenture Oshkosh - 30 July - 1 August (with Cole Force, including Podapalooza)

Selfridge ANGB Air Show – 22-23 August 2009 (Volunteering with CAP)

Note that dates are those that Airspeed plans to cover the shows and not necessarily the dates of the shows. Check the show websites for more information.

As ever, with a day job, clients depending on me, and two kids to wrangle, everything’s naturally subject to change, but this is a big part of Airspeed’s gathering of material for the show and a big part of the inspiration that drives both the show and the producer.

Get to your local airshow and take your kids! There’s no better way to ignite imaginations and stoke the fires of science, aviation, poetry, and song that to get your offspring a good snootfull of recently-combusted 100LL and JP-8.

If you make it to one of the above airshows, please keep your eyes out for Stephen Force and introduce yourself! We love meeting listeners!

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Scheyden Ad in Post

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 been back and forth on Skype with Will Hawkins all day and he got a moment to put together the latest Scheyden ad. I’ll publish it as soon as it’s ready and will start putting it in episodes shortly.

In the meantime, we went over the voiceover script and some color correction stuff on the T-6A flight and we’re both pretty excited about the video episode covering the flight that’ll be coming out of the trip to Randolph AFB. I know that I've said before that the in-flight video is gorgeous, but it's gorgeous. This is going to be the best video episode yet! To say nothing of what I'm going to do with the audio!

Exciting stuff! Watch this space!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Airspeed Video Feature - Aerobatic Conditioning

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

These are the show notes to a video episode. You can watch online right here by clicking on this direct link.

So here it is! The first full-up Airspeed video feature. 14 minutes of good stuff featuring my last acro conditioning flight before heading down to Randolph AFB for the T-6A Texan II ride.

This is some new ground for Airspeed. I’m by no means abandoning audio. Audio will remain my primary vehicle. But some stuff just works better in video and this is a great example.

Please let me know what you think and how I can continue to improve Airspeed for the greatest and most loyal audience in the world: You guys!

Many thanks to Will Hawkins of Wilco Films for his tutelage in the mysterious ways of video editing. This would have been possible without him, but only with a lot of suffering and trial and error!

Contact information for Sutton Aviation (where you, too, can strap on a parachute and fly this very aircraft with this very Barry Sutton!):

Sutton Aviation, Inc.
Oakland County International Airport
6230 North Service Drive - Waterford, Michigan 48327

Airspeed Alfresco - Inaugurating the Patio for the 2009 Season

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or links to ahow audio? Please check out the other posts.

So I’ve finally had the opportunity to set up the studio in one of my favorite authoring spaces, namely my patio. It’s in the low 70s and sunny and it’s the perfect circumstances to categorize, edit, assemble, write, and think. Which is what I intend to do, along with a whole boatload of work from the office (three hours already billed today, so I’m taking a little break here and I feel good about that).

I have a lot to do. I have the seaplane rating audio to categorize and edit. I have pictures and video of that, as well, that I need to figure out how best to present. I have loads of audio and video from recent acro training that I need to marry up and then cut for release. And all of this is to say nothing of the great material from the T-6A Texan II ride (as well as the voiceovers that I need to write and record for that).

(By the way, thanks, Uncontrolled Airspace, for the kind shout-outs in Episode 135. I’ll try to not disappoint your listeners that hop over here for a taste!)

I’m still on a high from the Randolph AFB trip. Here’s a shot of Jo Hunter and Will Hawkins in the conference room that we used for the preflight briefing and as a staging area. One of the few pictures I think we have of Jo. She’s a wizard behind the lens but seems to avoid the other end of the lens for the most part.

One of the central resources of any incarnation of Firebase Airspeed (and especially in 94F San Antonio) is the beverage station. The hotel was very nice in almost all respects, but no fridge. So we loaded up the sink with ice and brushed out teeth using the bath tub. Got to get your priorities right!

Back to herding electrons. Look for really good stuff in the feed soon!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Shots from the T-6A Texan II Flight

Check out the Airspeed episode Firebase Airspeed: T-6A Style right here:

The crazy-talented photographer and fellow aviation enthusiast Jo Hunter of Futurshox was a part of the coverage crew at the recent T-6A Texan II sortie at Randolph AFB and she made her Airspeed debut that night on the episode Firebase Airspeed T-6A Style, along with Will Hawkins of Wilco Films and A Pilot’s Story.

Jo shot stills, assisted with video, and contributed her distinctive Texas drawl (listen to the episode for details) to the proceedings.

Jo has posted several shots from the coverage at her site, and in a blog entry at Please be sure to check it out!

The lead shot of this blog entry is one of my favorites. After the flight, will shot some commentary from me for a Scheyden ad next to the aircraft. Glad I got a haircut the day I left for Randolph. I had developed a pretty good rooster tail in the helmet, but a little water and it looked like hair again for the shoot. And there’s nothing like a zoom bag, gee suit, helmet, and oxygen mask to make stuff like that just not matter.

Here’s a shot of the aircraft taxiing in. Maj Jarrett Edge in front and yours truly in back.

Just after takeoff. You can see the video camera pretty clearly in this one. I remain very indebted to the 559th and AETC generally for the accommodations that they made to allow this coverage. The in-flight video came out very well and we’re all pretty excited about it. I recognize that the jet teams have gee- and systems- based reasons for not flying better-resolution cameras, but I’m not complaining a bit about the Thunderbirds ride, but the video from this flight is orders of magnitude better than any I’ve seen from a jet team flight.

And the T-6A is such a wonderful-looking (to say nothing of performing) aircraft, I think the footage is actually more exciting than the jet team footage I’ve seen.

Will is hard at work editing and I’m going to be providing music and voiceovers to put together the video episode. I’ll also be doing a comprehensive audio episode of the whole thing and I’m hard at work writing and editing for that.

Are there luckier people on the planet? Three days of hanging out with perfectly resonant folks who love what you love for all of the right reasons. Having access to beautiful airplanes that turn mere pilots into the best-trained aviators in the world. Meeting and talking to the people at the top of their games who train the trainers. And now having a little breathing space to take that raw material and use it to tell a story to a loyal and enthusiastic audience.

I can’t thank Will, Jo, the US Air Force, and many others enough. Look for a great couple of episodes (probably a couple in audio and one in video) soon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Airspeed Video Teaser

So Will Hawkins of Wilco Films and A Pilot's Story has begun to create a monster.  Namely me.  Will gave me a quick tutorial on Final Cut last night and I've now had a chance to integrate some of the video I've been shooting into a teaser for future Airspeed episodes.  The first will likely be the coverage of the T-6A Texan II ride at Randolph AFB last week.  But I'll also try to load in bits of video from other experiences this summer and try to do at least a couple of bits of aerobatic video.

Stay tuned as Airspeed just gets better and better!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Frame Grabs from the T-6A Texan II Flight

This is a regular blog post. Check out the other posts for show notes and links to show audio and video.

I’m just now getting a chance to look at the video from the T-6A Texan II ride and start parsing out the pieces that are going to be the most useful. It’s also a great way to remember the flight and make sure that I get all of my impressions down so that I can incorporate them into the episodes. I thought I’d post a few frame grabs so that you could see what I’m working with.

The day was fairly overcast, which means that we’re going to have to pump up the color a little in places. That said, we have a lot of great sequences of flying by - and through - big ragged cumulus clouds, and those are going to be great once we make the clouds pop a little better.

Here’s a shot of the strap-in process just after we turned on the camera. The camera is mounted on one of the vertical structures above the front ejection seat and the horizontal stabilization bar of the canopy just barely clears it coming down. I mounted the camera and Maj Edge turned it on and hit the REC button just before strapping himself in. Here, the LtCol is helping me complete my own strap-in. I’m carrying the audio recorder in my shoulder pocket and I have a condenser tie-clip mic (sans tie clip) dangling behind my ear to capture the intercom and ATC sound. I was pretty worried about the audio because I’d never tried doing it this way before, but it ended up working very well. You need to adjust the audio levels once you’re taxiing to make sure that you have it right, but it worked very well.

A nice shot of me and the Texas countryside as the aircraft went vertical in a maneuver. It’s a little gray and shadowy, but Will is working on that in post. Want to talk superpowers? Will can change the weather in post and actually use those clouds to his advantage!

Just before touchdown on Runway 14R at Randolph AFB. It’s hard to see much up front for landing and I’m craning a little to get an idea of Maj Edge’s sight picture.

A lot to chew on over the next few weeks. I need to write the backing music, hit the studio to record it, and get the mix in process. I wrote a lot on the flights on the way home last night from San Antonio and there’s much more yet to write. And then there’s the triage of w3hat I’ve written to get the whole thing down to the core story. I feel a little like Quincy Jones sitting down with a whole bunch of stupendous material and trying to figure out how best to tell the story. My favorite problem!

Friday, May 15, 2009

T-6A Ride - Starting to Look at the Video

This is a regular blog entry.  Looking for show notes or links to show audio?  Please check out the other entries.

We started looking at the video and other media from the ride yesterday.  It's looking pretty great and we're pretty happy about it.  I wanted to get a frame grab up this morning, so here it is.

More soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

T-6A Texan II Flight - Emergency Training and Life Support Fitting

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or links to show audio? Check out the other posts.

This morning, I headed to Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. There’s a locker in the life support equipment room there with a helmet, mask, harness, and gee suit.

The locker is labeled “Mr. Tupper.” (Too stinking cool!)

Long story short, I just got a ride in the mighty T-6A Texan II with Maj Jarrett Edge of the 559th Flying Training Squadron at Raldolph.

I’ll post more as I gather in the pictures and video that Jo Hunter of Futurshox and Will Hawkins of Wilco Films shot during the process. We got great images in both cases and I’m very excited about the processof putting together both audio and video episodes covering the experience.

For now, I have the pictures pretty well organized from yesterday, so let’s talk about that.

I spent yesterday morning getting the training and fitted for the ride. The initial phase involved spending an hour or so with Reynaldo (“Ray”) Gutierrez.

I brought my own flight suit and boots. (Yeah, that’s the mark of a real aviation fanboy – “Ray, he brought his own zoom bag . . .”) All I needed to do was pull my Civil Air Patrol patches and cut the rank off of my shoulders.

By the way, if Civil Air Patrol aircrew members meet the Air Force height, weight, and grooming requirements, they can wear Air Force issue Nomex flight suits – Yet another reason to join CAP if you’re not a member already!

Then it was time to get familiar with the gear. Ray hooked me up with a gee suit and harness and taught me where and how everything connects. Then the helmet and the face mask. A quick tour of the seat kit (a small bag of vital survival stuff with an emergency beacon, a UHF radio, flares, and the like), and then it was time to meet the hardware.

First stop was the seat. It’s a full mock-up of the ejection seat and it’s used to familiarize the pilot with the straps, garters, and other stuff that makes you a part of the aircraft. It’s really necessary because you have seven buckles holding you in or holding onto the stuff that’s attached to you. Then you have your oxygen and your gee suit connection.

After you understand the hook-ups, you need to understand how the ejection system works. I flew with the safety pin in my ejection seat so I couldn’t inadvertently pull the handle. I could still remove the pin and punch out if Maj Edge in the front were to become incapacitated, but only then. Generally, the drill was that, if we were going to bail out, he’d announce “bail out, bail out, bail out!” and I’d simply assume the position (head back, chin in, elbows in, feet on the rudders) and prepare for the ride.

Here, I’m demonstrating for Ray that I understand the correct position for bailout. In this case, I’ve pulled the pin and I’m pulling the handle and punching out.

Next is the egress trainer. If bad things happen on the ground, you have to know how to get out of the aircraft in a hurry. You learn the operation of the canopy first and demonstrate that you can get out. Then you go into more detail, including the possibility that you might have to eject on the ground, shatter the canopy to get out, or otherwise egress in nonstandard ways.

You don’t unstrap until you’re sure that the canopy won’t open. Unstrapping basically eliminates your ability to eject and you don’t want to abandon that option until you’re sure that there’s no hope of ejecting. The T-6A is rated for zero-zero ejection, which means that you can punch out right there on the ground and still get a full canopy deployment and decent chance at a survivable landing. Ideally, you don’t want to eject unless you’re at least 6,000 feet AGL in an uncontrolled ejection or 2,000 feet AGL in a controlled ejection. But the aircraft will give you the ejection option under lots of circumstances and you don’t give that away until you know that ejection isn’t an option.

Anyway, I completely strap in and put on the helmet, gloves, and oxygen mask. Ray closes the canopy and talks to me over the headset. He tells me that there’s a fire in the cockpit and “egress, egress, egress.” I get the canopy open, unhook myself (two harness points, one lap belt point, two seat kit points, and two leg garter points. Then I stand up with authority and all of the hoses and other stuff tears away so I can get out.

Then comes the dangle. Ray goes over the parachute. What it’s supposed to do, what it looks like, how to use the toggles, and how to deal with malfunctions. It covers everything from line twists to how to land (toggles at eye level, eyes on the horizon, knees bent, toes down and just wait for contact). The idea is not to flare or otherwise pay attention to the landing, other than to assume the proper attitude and just wait for it.

And this isn’t just a stand-there-and-listen exercise. The facility has two hoists with parachute risers on them. Ray connects the risers to my harness and hoists me up off of the floor. I get to demonstrate what I’ve just learned while hanging in the harness.

After that, it’s on to life support. I’ve used generic equipment thus far in the training, but now it’s time to fit me for the harness, gee suit, and other equipment that I’m actually going to wear. The gee suit (“speed jeans” in the parlance of some) is basically a pair of high-waisted Nomex pants with air bladders around the calves, thighs, and midsection. It gives you a squeeze and helps you to strain against the gee forces in flight to maintain good consciousness.

The T-6A is rated for a fairly high gee load, but it’s generally not flown out to high gees like the F-16. For that matter, although it is pressurized, it’s generally not flown at really high altitudes that would require an oxygen system. But I think that it’s good that this aircraft allows you to become intimately familiar with all of the life support systems that you’d find in the Viper, the Eagle, etc. And I’m certainly not going to argue with a big hug around the lower body when I experience acceleration four times what I’m accustomed to.

Then comes the harness, helmet, and mask. The mask is probably the next most important system. Even if you’re not going to depend on the mask because of a thin atmosphere (the cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet with normal max of 3.6 psi and a bleed-off point of 4.0 psi.), you are going to have it strapped onto your face and it’d be darned inconvenient if it didn’t seat properly or didn’t give you a good flow of air.

Once it’s sized, you walk over to a machine that allows you to test the airflow, seal, and audio connections. It looks for all the world like one of those vacuum tube testers that I used to see in TV and appliance stores when I was a kid. But it’s vital to make sure that everything is working. You don’t launch and fly the airplane around the edges of its envelope with malfunctioning equipment. Lots of things can scrub a flight like this and it’s important to go through all of the testing right there where you have a dedicated staff of people who can fix what’s broken and swap out what they can’t fix.

At the conclusion of the process, they put it all in a locker in the life support room. Locker 240. And put my name on it. Avery nice tough.

The flight itself went very well and I’ll give some detail on that once I get the pictures in. And I’ll probably head into the studio to cut some original music for the episode that covers the flight. I’m also thinking about shooting video in the studio during recording and making a music video out of it. Ought to be fun!

Anyway, it’s off to get the video offloaded and do a few more things before hitting the sack. Watch for a lot more on the show and here on the blog about this great ride!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Airplane Single Engine Sea Complete!

This is a regular blog post. Show notes and links to show audio appear in other posts.

Just a brief post to update progress. Five hours of dual, a 1.1-hour checkride, and I’m one of the planet’s newest seaplane pilots! I got my airplane single engine sea (ASES) rating this weekend with Tom Brady near Traverse City, Michigan.

I have something like four hours of audio (including the checkride!) to edit and turn into an episode or two. I also shot some video that I’ll be trying to make into something postable soon.

Contact info for Tom Brady at Traverse Air:

294 N West Silver Lake Road
Traverse City, Michigan 49686

Thursday, May 07, 2009

How I Know Scheyden Retractables Stay Up at 3.8 Gees

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

How do I know that my Scheyden Retractables stay put at 3.8 gees? A picture is worth lots of words. The lighting isn’t the best (after all, the aircraft is still pretty nose-down on a hazy day), but here’s a shot on the back side of a loop after a good round back side. Pulling and grunting and having fun with my jowls hanging down on my chute straps and giving my best Sean Tucker commentary.

Barry and I got up for another acro session on Wednesday. A pretty dreary and hazy day. 10,000–foot overcast and generally hazy conditions that made the horizon hard to see. We made sure that he had good ground references wherever possible and moved through no more than one axis (e.g. pitch only in loops) whenever we didn’t have a ground reference to use.

One of Barry’s acquaintances had an aviation radio on the ground out in the practice area and he walked us in to his place. A few minutes later, we had a show line set up about 2,000 AGL across his back yard and did a little aerobatic demonstration. (Yes, it's a rural area and we complied with all of the regs in so doing.) I could hear his wife and the neighborhood kids shouting in the background when he keyed the mic. Very cool.

Planning to head up to Traverse City this evening and go for the seaplane rating Saturday. Weather is not looking good, but we’ll see what happens.

Yankee Air Museum C-47 Ground School and Bomber Buffing Party

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

I’m catching up a little on some of the audio I’ve recorded and haven’t yet had the chance to turn into episodes. Sorry about that, but I have a really good excuse. I’ve been flying airplanes like it’s my job. I got all of 40 hours of flying in in the year ended March 31 and I think I logged more than 16 hours this past April alone. Okay, lots of people log more, but few who are juggling family and a really cool law practice.

To give you a quick update, I’m transitioning to the Garmin G1000-equipped Cessna 182T Nav III with Civil Air Patrol, I’m building some cross-country PIC time to qualify for the commercial certificate, and I’m flying a lot of aerobatics with Barry Sutton in the American Champion Super Decathlon to build tolerance to prepare for a really great opportunity with the Air Force at Randolph AFB in May as well as some potential media rides at air shows later this summer.

But, a few weeks ago, I got a call from a contact at the Yankee Air Museum. The Yankee Air Museum is an aviation museum located at Willow Run Airport (KYIP) near Ypsilanti, Michigan. It has, among other things, an operational B-17G Flying Fortress, a B-25 Mitchell, a V-77 Stinson Reliant, and, nearest and dearest to my heart, a gorgeous C-47 Skytrain. For those relatively few who listen to this show who don’t know why it’s so near and dear, the C-47 is the military variant of the Douglas DC-3 and (I get all excited whenever I get to say this) I’m rated by the FAA to fly both the DC-3 and the C-47 as second in command.

I’ve been a member of the organization for years and, when they heard that I was typed, the public relations people and the chief C-47 pilot at Yankee offered me the opportunity to sit through the annual ground school for the pilots who are going to fly it during the upcoming season. Bear in mind that I’ll probably have to get my commercial certificate and add a few hundred (if not thousand) hours before the museum’s insurance company will let me fly the 47 as aircrew, but it’s nice to be included and I really do plan to make myself useful to the museum in connection with that aircraft, even before I can be aircrew.

Anyway, I showed up early all equipped with my DC-3 manuals from Dan Gryder’s type rating school down in Georgia and a couple of caffeine-bearing beverages. It turns out that the heat in the building is boiler-based and it has exactly two settings. “On” and “off.” It was comparatively warm for Michigan in March, so the setting of the day was “off,” even though that meant leaving the jacket on in the classroom upstairs.

But that’s fine with me! It’s a hangar building and the sweet smells typical of a hangar holding round-engine aircraft wafted gently upstairs as the comings and goings of volunteers stirred the air about. Heck, this building started out as part of a bomber plant located at Willow Run during World War II, so I like to think that some of the smells and other ambience had been up in the rafters since the 40s and chose those moments to float down on me.

The room was a little gray. I’m 42 and may be two or three people out of 25 or so in the room were younger than me. But that’s what you expect at a museum ground school like this. I found myself wondering how many total hours were represented by the pilots in that room. If I dragged the age demographic down a little bit, I definitely dragged the total time demographic down with my comparatively measley 240 hours.

But I was welcome as a pilot. Nobody pounced and demanded to know why a poser like me was there. If I was a little defensive-feeling at first, it’s only out of respect for all that experience. But nobody pounced and, in fact, I struck up a couple of good conversations with the other pilots. I sat between two corporate guys in the second row and each assumed from my manuals that I might be a regular DC-3 driver. I quickly disabused them of that notion.

The guys primarily giving the instruction were Jerry Nichols, the chief C-47 pilot, and Randy Hotton, the museum’s operations director. Randy and Jerry did most of the presenting. I suppose I could try to summarize some of the content or try to tell you what it was like, but it’s probably better if I just let you sit in for a segment or two of the school.

[School audio.]

One moment bears particular mention. Some good-natured acrimony broke out over whether the brakes on the C-47 could be set and/or released from the left and/or right seats. Unlike many other hangar arguments of that kind, the parties to the dispute – get this – went downstairs to the C-47 to resolve the argument. Very cool.

I had been fairly focused on the ground school and didn’t go downstairs until lunch. But what a sight to behold when I did! It had slipped my mind that it was the time of year at which the museum holds its bomber buffing party. Yeah, it’s what you think it is. Let a few hundred volunteers in with aluminum polish and towels and let them have at the aircraft.

Everyone from World War vets to babes in arms. Some polishing more capably than others, but everyone pitching in to get the aircraft ready for the summer season. And the attendant hot dogs, chips, and other food in exchange for a donation.

It was hard to go back upstairs for the afternoon session, but it was well worth it. I think that we all think at one time or another about what goes into operating these grand dames of the golden age of aviation. I got to spend a Saturday finding out. It’s about safety culture, understanding the aircraft, training, and quiet competence.

It’s hard to get parts for these aircraft when they’re available. And some parts are just plain unavailable. You actually have to maintain your own dies so that you can remanufacture some of the parts yourself. As it is with any classic aircraft, it takes extraordinary courage and faith to maintain and operate these birds and I’m always grateful to see them fly each year.

In the case of the Yankee Air Museum, that courage and faith is doubled. On October 9, 2004, fire destroyed the Museum’s hangar, taking with it nearly all of the museum’s ground support equipment, tooling, and several aircraft in the process of being restored. Fortunately, the fire did not consume any of the museum’s airworthy aircraft and the museum is working toward building a new facility.

Helping with that will be the annual Chrysler Jeep Superstores Thunder Over Michigan airshow, which will again feature the US Navy Blue Angels. It’s Saturday and Sunday July 18 and 19 at Willow Run Airport and it’s one of the best assemblies of warbirds you’ll see anywhere and this year also features once-in-a-lifetime lineup of C-130 Hercules aircraft. Make sure that you attend if you can.

Yankee Air Museum
PO Box 950
Belleville, Michigan 48112-0590
Telephone: 734-483-4030
Fax: 734-483-5076

The museum is located in Hangar 2 near the southwest corner of the airport just east of the approach end of Runway 5R. If in doubt, take Exit 185 from I-94 and go north to Tyler Road, head east until you hit the airport fence, then turn right and follow the airport perimeter fence around until you see the hangar. If you get lost, just keep circling the airport on the access road and you’ll get there sooner or later.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Yet More Acro Conditioning

This is a regular blog post.  You can find show notes and links to show audio in other posts.

About 1.5 in the Super-D yesterday with Barry Sutton, about 35 minutes of which was pretty good and consistent acro.  Tolerance is getting a lot better.  We pulled several combinations, including a loop to a hammerhead to a four-point roll and back-to-back split-S's (a reverse Cuban eight?).

Feeling pretty good about the tolerance.  I go for one more session in the Super-D this week, go get a seaplane rating this weekend, then it's off to Randolph AFB to fly the mighty T-6A Texan II.  It all seems to be happening pretty quickly but, in fact, it's a result of a lot of planning as far back as last September.

Anyway, here are a few frame grabs from yesterday.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Gathering of Aviation Podcasters 2009

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:

As many of you know, Airspeed participated in the Gathering of Aviation Podcasters at Sun 'N Fun last week. Jack Hodgson of Uncontrolled Airspace just provided the audio file that Dave Shallbetter of Sun ‘N Fun Radio was kind enough to capture. Thanks, guys!

This version is unedited and unvarnished. Heck, I’m going to be listening for the first time on my own show. But that’s how we roll here at Airspeed. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

More Frame Grabs from Last Week's Acro Conditioning

Just a few more frame grabs from last week's acro conditioning session with Barry.  I'm working with Final Cut Express to try to transition from Premiere to that package so I can publish a few video episodes of this acro.  Should be a lot of fun once I get up the learning curve.  In the meantime, enjoy!

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Take Flight: The Simulator Dudes

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

I went to Cole’s school earlier today for Young Author’s Day. Each of the kids in Mr. Gayta’s class has produced a book containing an original illustrated story. Cole’s is entitled I Take Flight: The Simulator Dudes. It’s based on the US Navy jet simulator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Note the descriptive “[i]t was a big enough space that you could move around in your seat and press the emergency button if you were going to puke.” Cool! I need to get to that sim. I was there with Rod Rakic in November, but we ran out of time and couldn’t get through the sim.

Cole’s teacher did a great job with the project and I’m really proud of the job that Cole did with the book.