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First Fly-in of the Summer

Posted May 30, 2006 by Mike

Went to the first antique fly-in of the summer hereabouts a couple of weekends ago. It was held at a private strip in South Prairie. Houses with aircraft hangers line one entire side of the strip and a small portion of the other side also. This flyin combined antique aircraft, cars, motorcycles, tractors, and steam engines. There were outstanding examples of each type, and here's a small selection of some of the nicer ones that took part.

The U-2 spyplane pilot's motto --

In God we trust - all others we monitor.

Posted January 9, 2006 by Mike

Stoneciper Out at Boeing
It's probably not about the affair . . .

Posted March 8, 2005 by Michael A. Morrow

I'm a third-generation aerospace type guy, so here in Boeing-town, most of the people I know either work at Boeing, have worked for Boeing in the past, hope to work for them in the future, or work for somebody that contracts for Boeing. And no, I've never worked for Boeing, but my Dad did for a bazillion years.

Naturally, when the subject of senior Boeing management comes up, I'm all ears. I can say without exception, that every Boeing employee or manager I know had nothing good to say about Harry Stonecipher. Amazingly, when pressed for details, they never start with his tenure at Boeing. These people do their homework. They go back to his previous companies, and work their way forward, usually ending with something like "...he couldn't do a better job of destroying the company if he tried". I've never heard a different (non-media) opinion.

When they brought him back to turn the company around, the collective groan was almost audible. The bad feeling was destroying company moral, and I'm guessing it finally worked it's way up through the ranks to someone who could do something about it. I'm equally sure that the affair which is the purported reason for his dismissal is just a cover, and that they've been looking for a reason to release him for quite some time.

In any case, loyal Boeing employees are pleased to see him go. Hopefully, the company will find a Leader up to the challenge of running one of the greatest brand names the world has ever seen.

Notice I used the word Leader - not CEO or CFO, or manager, or president, or some other lame term. The Boeing company deserves a LEADER with the vision and ability to fully utilize the technological resources of the company. Someone who can blaze new trails and create entire new markets where none existed before. Hopefully, there's a brighter future for Boeing than just competing with Airbus. Boeing needs to get out front and run again.

You Bought a WHAT?
Bill Whittle's gone and bought himself a plane!
Posted April 6, 2004 by Michael A. Morrow

Congratulations to Bill Whittle on his new acquisition!

I also wanted to be a hot-shot-fighter-jock, and like Bill, I was also blind-sided by eye-sight deficiency. That's a LOOONNNG story (almost as long as Bill's!). The short of it? I took the controls for the first time at age 9. I'd read so many fighter pilot autobiographies, that flying was like falling off a log. Eeeeeasy! Within a year though, I got my first pair of glasses, and fighter pilot part of the dream died. Peter Bowers (THE Pete Bowers!) gave me a ride in his Pietenpol when I was 14, and then I soloed out of Galvin Flying Service at age 17 in High School. When Pete heard I'd soloed, he asked where and in what. My Dad told him I soloed in a Cessna 150 at Galvin. Without batting an eye, Pete replied "Aahh - Galvinized in a Spam Can, Eh?"

Since I was spending college money, I gave up flying for an engineering degree. There's a lot more to the story, both before and after, but that's not for here or now. I found a replacement for being a fighter pilot - I went motorcycle roadracing.

These days, I'm still interested in airplanes, so I go to a LOT of fly-ins, and take a lot of pictures. Here's one that I took at a fly-in last year. The cartoon was painted on the side of a Stearman WW II vintage biplane trainer. As Bill has learned, they ain't cheap these days, and you just KNOW there's a story behind it! Heh!

You Bought a WHAT?

Fly-in Fun Stuff
HELLLLP! I Can't Stop!
Posted April 5, 2004 by Michael A. Morrow

I like to go to antique aircraft fly-ins. Unlike airshows, they are low-key, the people are friendly, you can wander around and look at the aircraft, and there are usually other attractions in conjunction with the fly-in. Some fly-ins include a display of antique cars, some are the destination of motorcycle poker runs, and some have unique participants.

Hereís a guy that showed up at the Spokane Biplane Fly-in in Eastern Washington. Yup, itís ďThe RocketeerĒ from the movie of the same name. I didnít see him arrive, so I canít say for sure if the rocket pack worked, but it was a great costume!
At the same fly-in, a bunch of antique cars showed up. While wandering around poking my head under the hoods of some really cool old cars, an oddity went by that got my attention - an old-fashioned velocipede. The owner was wearing a top hat, and cruising effortlessly around the apron, making it seem as elegant as the old pictures of velocipedes appear. After demonstrating the apparent ease of motivating this oddity, he offered interested spectators the opportunity to try it out.
After watching several people navigate around the parking lot without doing irreparable harm to themselves, I decided to give it a try. The incident was recorded on film for posterity - hereís a couple of pics of me trying not to fall off.

Itís a LOT harder than it looks!

First, youíve got to get on the thing - the owner stood there and held it while I climbed on - and I do mean CLIMBED. Look closely at the frame member that goes down to the rear wheel - there's a loop of metal welded to the frame. That loop is a step to assist you in getting up to the seat. I wasn't tall enough for the step to help.
It would help a lot to have a mounting platform about the level of the pedals. You'd wheel the velo alongside the platform, step up onto the platform, step right onto the nearest pedal, and swing your other leg right around the seat. No such luck here, so the owner of the velo would hold it, while you attempted to climb aboard.

Second, it helps if your legs are long enough to reach the pedals at the bottom of the stroke - My legs were about a half pedal stroke short.

Third, the pedal throw is really short, and the wheel is really tall, so you have to push pretty hard on the pedal to get the wheel to turn - kind of reverse leverage. My legs are pretty strong, and it was difficult even for me.
Pushing hard on the pedal forces the wheel to steer away from the side being pushed on, so you've got to pull on that side of the handlebar at the same time. This makes steering VERY INTERESTING when you're just pulling away from a stop. Once you're moving along, it's not so bad.

Last but not least - stopping and getting off. If it ainít movíin, itís tippíin! You need either an assistant to catch and steady the thing or a platform to step off on.

An interesting experience that really makes you appreciate the modern bicycle.

UPDATE! The pedals were fixed to the front wheel - if the wheel turned, the pedals turned, which made everything more difficult.

Solution - make the pedals into coasters - forward push, backwards free-wheel. You could get a running start without having to pedal, and you wouldn't be forced to pedal through corners. Or you could just get a real (chain drive) bicycle.

Fly-in Fun

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You Bought a WHAT?

Fly-in Fun Stuff

Copyright Michael A. Morrow - March 21, 2004.