Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

A few pictures to catch up on recent events.  Not much flying in the RV, but I am able to sneak in one airplane related item.

Most recently, we drove to Colorado for skiing and generally getting out of Texas.   Lynne and I drove, and we met my brother-in-law, sister, and nephew in Pagosa Springs, and then Durango.

The drive up takes us past vast areas of wind turbines.  We took this route when we drove up two years earlier, and I think there were about 3 times as many turbines now.

We stopped in Lubbock for lunch and also visited the McPherson wine retail shop.  We had a great lunch at the Funky Door. We were sitting enjoying a fabulous brunch when I thought they put on a Harry Connick CD. It turned out to be a live band, very cool.  Who knew Lubbock had civilization?

The skiing at Wolf Creek and Purgatory was awesome. Here you can see that the crowds were thin and we had lots of snow.

A couple of times I fell into some deep snow at Wolf Creek and had trouble getting back up. I tried to plant a pole to push myself up, but the pole never found the bottom. And I lost a ski in the snow for about 10 minutes, the first time that's ever happened to me.

Max and John after skiing at Purgatory.

Pagosa looked like a post card.

And my car saw it's first snow!

There's no need to get ice when there's snow everywhere!

Then we drove to Durango to stay at the Strater. Lynne calls it Grandma's House.

At the Strater you can be an adult and a kid at the same time!

A fabulous dinner at the Ore House.

Finally we drove back home on Christmas Eve, a 14 hour trip. We got back at midnight.

Next day was Christmas dinner at Mimi's house. Here's Max, clowning around as always!

In older news (I promised an airplane related item), we attended a cool Rise Air party, and got to take a short ride in a King Air 250. We also took a test ride in a Tesla. It was an awesome party!

Lynne and John.

Did I mention that my grand daughter likes to take pictures?

Oh yes, I did sneak in one more solo formation flight before we left. Scoot flew lead. I'm getting better at rejoins, but still lot's more practice needed. I'm up to 5.6 hours of formation time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Formation Solo

Flew my first solo formation sortie.  And I didn't kill anyone!  Cookie flew lead, departing 40XS.  We have to make 1 ship takeoffs because the runway is too narrow.  It was a typical training flight for a newbie.  Taxi in formation to the runway, take off as lead is just leaving the ground.  Join up (took 720 degrees), lead puts me out to route for setup time.  I goofed up the radio check in because my audio panel doesn't like it when both radios are tuned to very similar frequencies.  Back in to left fingertip, then lazy 8 wing-work.  She sent me to close trail for more lazy 8's, and then back to strong left.  Then a cross under, and strong right wing work.    Then a break to extended trail. 

Next was a rejoin to the left, which was my first decent rejoin.  A turn for separation and a rejoin to the right.  I messed this one up, but safely undershot to the outside and recovered back to the inside on the right.   We did one more turn for separation and a left rejoin.  A bit more wing work, and then back in to 40XS, with a left pattern overhead break, which of course means a cross under to put me on the right.

Lots of maneuvering that doesn't mean much to most people, but it really is mostly just what it sounds like.

Many thanks to Tanya and Scott for turning this newbie into a better pilot!

No pictures.  You don't have time to look at anything inside the airplane most of the time.  And when we're in route, we're still working.  No time for sightseeing.  One day I'll feel confident enough to take a passenger, they can take pictures.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Let's see, a busy last couple of weeks.  Changed the oil, had the very first indication of morning sickness - which is usually a sticky valve.  Hasn't reoccurred since I changed the oil.  Got in two more days of formation practice, this time in close succession.

Oh yeah, and I got cleared for two ship solo!  Maybe I won't wash out!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Another Thanksgiving in the books!  We went to my sisters house along with a big crowd.  Many thanks to Jesse O for getting my Mom to dinner and back home.
I did go out to 88R to inspect and put the lower cowling back on.

Wednesday Nov 25
Changed the oil.  Last change was May 30 at 437 hours.  So still a few hours left, but too much time since the last oil change.  Started up just fine today, and a short flight around the pattern with marginal ceilings got the oil heated up.  Got the oil change part done, but saved putting the cowling back on for another day.

Tuesday Nov 24

Got in another hour of formation training.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Followed the Colorado all the way to the coast today.  Stopped for a short break at Bay City KBYY.

UT Austin. Hook 'em Horns!




Bay City

STNP. Still there. Still producing 5% of Texas's electricity.

Matagorda. One branch of the river ends at Matagorda Bay.

Intercoastal waterway in the foreground.

Ending at the Gulf of Mexico.

Took a break at KBYY

Lots of cool bridges cross the river.

Fayette County coal generation plant

Coal unfortunately still accounts for 28% of Texas's electricity. Hydroelectric is less than .01%.

A recent fire started at the base of the C.

KAUS, aka Austin Bergstrom

Downtown Austin

Sunday 11/22

Also flew with Max on Sunday.  We went to Lampasas, San Saba, and returned via Lake Buchanan.  So I've flown almost the entire length of the Texas Colorado.

While we were at Lakeway, this plane announced a right pattern and a low pass.

We have a couple of local kids who hang out and take pictures. He was able to figure out it was N337GU, a Polish manufactured twin turbine amphib. Later when Max and I were entering the pattern at Lampasas, 337GU was also there, doing a right pattern low pass.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Got in another episode of formation training yesterday. I flew over to 40XS to meet the Card's. We did a briefing. We were going to Burnet to where the Card's were meeting two other planes for 4 ship practice. We would do 2 ship work, then join up with Luke in the blue RV-8A for a first 3 ship and a abort demo and practice. This time Tanya was right seat as my coach. Once again I immediately messed up on the radio.

We took off and joined up.  It takes me a while to rejoin.    Scot ran us though a set of turns and added in some climbs and descents.  I was never quite in position.  Then he put me out to route and back, then some cross unders.   Then some extended trail practice.  Then rejoin practice. 

Out toward Burnet Luke joined up and we practiced the abort pull-up.  Finally Luke broke off to land at Burnet and then we did an overhead for a landing on runway 1.  1.0 hrs of formation PIC.

The debrief was thorough and we had an audience, the guys for the 4 ship.  Luke, Flagman, and Eyeball.  Then I sat through their briefing and then watched them depart.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Formation clinic

I was scheduled to fly to Pine Bluff Arkansas for a formation flying clinic over Halloween. But the weather had other ideas. Fortunately local formation pilots emailed and invited me to fly with them. Here's my write up on Van's Airforce.

Halloween pictures

Thanks to my sister Mimi who took Katrin and the two granddaughters to a pumpkin patch for Halloween pictures. Lynne and I did our usual and hung out at the McLellan's pet cemetery for the evening.

Young eagles

On Oct 10 the Lakeway EAA chapter held a Young Eagles event. We had 50 kids signed up, but less than half showed up. There were 6 planes lined up to fly, so we had about 1.5 sorties per pilot. I flew only one sortie, taking up a brother and sister. Their Mom was more excited than they were. No I didn't squeeze two kids into the RV, I flew Steve Z's 172, 738TQ. I asked Steve to check me out in the 172 which we did the previous afternoon. Two touch and goes plus an emergency power off practice at Rusty Allen, and a landing at 3R9 got me current again. That was my first 172 time in 4 years.

When we got back from the first trip, Russ N. had his Super Cub parked behind me. He asked if any more kids wanted a flight in the Cub. Of course I said yes, I did! So I squeezed into the back, and we flew with the door down most of the time. Russ offered me a chance to take the controls, but I could not get my left leg in position to reach the rudder pedal on that side. Still it was great fun. I had a death grip on my phone, because dropping it surely meant it would be gone!

The Lakeway pool. That's were I do my swimming!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Trip to Europe - Expo2015


Now I'll cover our day spent at Expo2015, one of the cornerstones of the trip. Originally I thought about the race, a couple of days in Paris, Geneva to see CERN and the LHC, and then Switzerland departing Zurich. Lynne was mildly interested in this until she found out that the Worlds Fair, EXPO215, would be in Milan. And the theme was food! Lynne went to the Munich Olympics in '72, and she also saw a Worlds Fair in San Antonio, so she easily talked me into changing plans.

We bought our tickets for Friday July 31. We boarded the M1 subway at Buonarotti, and took it directly to the Expo location.

The main street is 1500m long. Do the math, that's a mile! You can't even see the end in this picture. On both sides are many large trade show booths representing each county. There are about 130 countries with exhibits at the fair. Many also had ground displays featuring local food crops and farming practices. Many companies had displays, tractors, food processing, etc.. We didn't even see a 10th of the place.

Birra Morreti, my favorite Italian beer.

The American pavillion.

The French Pavilion.

For us the best is yet to come. As planned, we get to the American pavilion first thing and arrange reservations for dinner. It slowly dawns on us that the restaurant is not at the Expo. It is in Milan. In fact, it's in the Seven Stars Galleria hotel, in the heart of Milan. So we would need to get back home at some point and get ready for dinner.

We spent the morning and early afternoon at the Expo. That was not nearly enough. It really would take at least a week to see just the highlights. There was a 1-2 hour line to get into the Japanese booth. We had no idea what was at the end of that line, but we quickly decided we didn't have time. A quick check of the Expo page for Japan does not shed any light. Maybe it was sushi?

We got back to the hotel about 4 and relaxed for a while. We got dressed and then took the now familiar subway to the Duomo stop, to be on time for dinner starting at 6:30.

Finding the entrance was not easy.  We got down to the Galleria, and were standing right in front of the elevator without knowing it.  Finally the girl working at the entrance for the Da Vinci museum showed us where the elevator was.

The destination is actually the James Beard American Restaurant.

Does that view look familiar?

Dean, holding court!

Once we found the place, we were
treated to a fantastic evening! Staring with Zonin Prosecco, and appetizers, we then sat down to a
fabulous 5 course meal. The sommelier had selected a set of wines to go with each plate. He did a wonderful job with the pairings, and at the end of the meal, Lynne stood up and thanked him in front of the entire crowd.

Dean's tortilla soup with South of the Border flavors
Rocca di Montemassi Vermentino Calasole 2014

Barbequed shrimp taco with mango/pickled red onion salad and smoky citrus vinaigrette
Ca'Bolani Pinot Grigio Superiore Friuli Aquileia 2013

Chicken fried Lockhart quail on jalepeno creamed corn with green tomato relish
Rocca di Montemassi Rocca di Montemassi I.G.T.

Maple-black peppercorn soaked beef tenderloin on Anson Mills jalapeno grits with butternut squash taquito and smoked chili aioli
Masseria Altemura Sasseo Primitivo Salento I.G.T.

Warm peach buckle with blueberry jam and Bourbon vanilla ice cream
Castello Del Poggio Brachetto Spumante Piemonte D.O.C.

What a fabulous dinner. Afterwards, Lynne and I walked arm in arm through the Plazas of Milan and the Galleria at night. It was a perfect evening!