Saturday, January 21, 2023

"Catch-Up" Blog Post - AirVenture 2021

 Hello Everyone,

In the past, I have always included pictures and info from AirVenture each year.  In the last 2+ years I have been delinquent on keeping up with and getting any updates posted in a timely fashion.  Anyway, I'm on a crusade to right the ship and I have a little more "stuff" in the backlog to get cleared out.  A recent work trip had me in a hotel for 30+ hours, so I decided to use the time to get another "catch-up" blog update posted.

What I'd like to share in this blog post is "stuff" from our week at AirVenture 2021.  This was the 1st AirVenture after CoVid forced the cancelling of AirVenture in July 2020.  In the next blog post, I'll cover "stuff" from AirVenture 2022 and that will get me caught up - at least with regard to AirVenture updates.

For years now, I have been relying on my dad to use his GMC dually to pull my 5th wheel RV rig to Camp Scholler (and back) every year during AirVenture.  I decided it was time to get my own truck to do that job.  I started looking for something of my own.  But I did not want to put a lot of $$$ into what had become very expensive items (Remember? With CoVid came supply shortages, and with supply shortages, vehicles became harder to find - and way more expensive to buy).

Well, I managed to find a listing for an old 1989 Ford F350 Dually that was really reasonably priced.  Where we live in the CA north state, everyone wants to have a 4wd dually diesel truck.  Well, this was an old, rear wheel drive, gas truck.  Not a huge market for those here, so it was priced accordingly.  Now, another reason that I didn't want to put a huge pile of $$$ into a truck like this was that I plan to only use it, literally, ONCE every year - just to pull the RV from my property in WI to OSH for AirVenture and then back (about 70 miles, round trip).  This one might be perfect for that!?!?

I went to see the truck, and decided that it would work for what I needed.  It was going to need some fixes, as you might imagine.  First, I was told that the rear fuel tank (the bigger one) was not working and, of course, the air conditioning didn't work (go figure).  Also, it had a goose neck ball mounted in the bed, but I'd need a 5th wheel hitch mounted.  There were a few other "issues," but these were the biggest things.  The only other "issue" was that if I bought it here at home, I would have to get it to WI somehow and pay for the fuel to get it there.  But, since I had the time to work on it here at home (where I had the tools and the time), I decided that it was a fair trade for having to eventually drive it cross-country to AirVenture.

A week or so later, I went to get the truck and got it home without any hiccups.  It actually drove fairly well!  I got it home and parked it on a slab in front of the garage and put a canopy over it for shade so that I could work under it during the day:
I'll try not to bore you with too many details, but here is a pic from the install of a new fuel pump in the aft fuel tank:
And, a pic of the "magic" fuel selector that needed to be replaced:
And, here is an "in progress" look at the install of a 5th wheel hitch that I installed over the top of the gooseneck ball hitch:
I picked up that 5th wheel hitch from an machine shop auction a few months earlier.  No one really wanted it, so I got it for a little more than the minimum bid - I think I paid $40 for it!  The nice thing about this hitch is that it is removable.  Just pull 4 bolts, and the top part of the hitch comes off the rails mounted to the bed and the gooseneck ball is exposed and usable.  Nice to be able to switch back-and-forth easily - if necessary!

I finally had the truck ready to go by Jun of 2021.  I started my trek to AirVenture by first driving up to visit our oldest daughter in Montana.  I figured if the truck made it to her place, then I'd probably be able to make it the rest of the drive to WI with this old truck.  It was quite the journey, and I did have a few issues along the way.  But, suffice it to say, I did make it to the property in WI for AirVenture.  Here is the "beast" with the RV hooked up and ready to make the 35 mile journey to Camp Scholler in Jul of 2021:
And, here is the beginning of our our "camp" at AirVenture 2021:
Either Bryan, or I, get to Camp Scholler early the week prior to AirVenture starting.  Whoever does, ropes off space for for the rest of the crew to park and camp.  Eventually, our camp grew to include the all the "regulars" plus several more.  We had the biggest crew that we ever had in 2021!  It included kids, kids boyfriends and girlfriends, kids boyfriend's friends and their friends & family.  Here is one evening back at camp when we were celebrating the birthday of one of the crew:
Happy birthday, dude in orange!!!  Here, his son is presenting him with a birthday cake:
Here's the cake!
The bakery that provided the cake also had these cookies that I couldn't resist buying:
We had been on a mission since the previous AirVenture (the one before CoVid) to get our friend (the south gate security guy) up on a flight.  This was the year.  Here he is going up with one of the Dave in the AirCam:
And, the happy return:
My wife hadn't been to AirVenture for many years.  She had other family commitments that always overlapped with AirVenture week.  That has passed and she was able to join us AirVenture in 2021.  So, Dave and Laura helped get her up on an intro ride too:
There was a new and interesting new aircraft that got a lot of attention in 2021.  We all referred to it as the coffee bean.  I think it is technically called the Blackfly eVTOL by a company called Opener, I believe.  Interesting concept and design:
You can check out more about it:  HERE

On one afternoon, I stopped by the Blue Barn:
And stuck some push pins into the map for my two EAA chapters: Chapter 157 - Benton Airpark and Chapter 1148 - Corning Airport:
No AirVenture would be complete without checking out the old favorites.  The P-38 Lightning:
The F-4U Corsair:

The P-51 Mustang:
And, the P-40 Warhawk:
Here's a new one (for me) to see up close - It's an RAF Hawker Hurricane, I believe:
Of course, the Spitfire:
Cockpit of the Spit:
This next display was very interesting.  It's a Navy SBD Dauntless (aka Army Air Corps A-24) that was raised out of Lake Michigan in 2009.  This is a cooperative project involving several groups to restore this aircraft that was lost on a training mission .  As you can see, below, a lot of the fuselage has already been restored.
Restoration work began on the aircraft in 2011.  Here is a photo of the raising of the plane from Lake Michigan in 1994.
The US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics report on the loss of the aircraft:
Here is the list of the groups involved with this cooperative restoration effort and some history of the aircraft use in WWII:
The original engine that came out of the lake:
And, here is an overview of the entire aircraft and it current state of restoration:
This is an awesome project!  For more information about this aircraft and the restoration, check here: Air Zoo

Where else in the world will you see this many flying Gooney Birds all lined up in a row??
Of course, no AirVenture would be complete with out the night air show, the incredible fireworks show and the grand finale!  Here's what I caught that year!
It was an outstanding AirVenture in 2021.  After the cancellation of AirVenture 2020, there was a lot of folks ready to get back to normal.  There was a really strong turn out (numbers wise), but I think the head counts could have been a lot higher.  I say that, because, during AirVenture 2021 international air travel was still being restricted by CoVid policies and there was almost no international presence that year.  One example in particular, the South African group that normally takes up a whole city block in Camp Scholler was not there in 2021.  And, I'm sure that there were many other groups from outside the US that did not make it because of that.  It's too bad, because it might have been a truly record setting attendance that year.

AirVenture 2022 recap is up next!

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