The drive over to vakkotaur's parents' place in Merrill, Wisconsin was only marred by the discovery that the HF antenna on the car would not tune remotely even after I replaced what I thought was a faulty connector. I listened on the bands the antenna was tuned for, but heard nothing, so I gave up. Sigh.
I did take a detour on the way. I-90 in Minnesota was routed along the approximate route of US 16 through the western two-thirds of the state, but in the eastern part, it was rerouted along a ridge instead of down in the river valley. US 16 was decommissioned, and its old routing through the valley is now Minnesota 16. It's a gorgeous drive. What was supposedly the prettiest part was detoured for construction, but it was still worth doing. That added an hour or so to the trip.
When I got to Merrill and got the car unloaded, Paul's dad and I went flying. Man, am I ever rusty. I got nervous about the idea of landing, and headed back to the field before it got dark - and, about time to turn base, I realized I didn't feel comfortable with my level of knowledge, so I asked Phil to land it. He did, quite well. I really need some dual before I'll feel comfortable trying it myself: it's been way too long.
We got up at 5 Wednesday, so we could leave for Oshkosh in time to get there by 9 AM. It took less time than we'd expected: we planned three hours, and it only took two. We were inside the gate by 8:30. The Experimental Aircraft Association, the folks who sponsor the show, have it down to a science.
You can't see all of Oshkosh in one day. You can't even see a big part of it. I realized that early on, and didn't even try. I looked at most of the exhibits and drooled over the nifty planes, and said "what the hell?" at a bunch more.
I did accomplish the two objectives I'd set, and more than I'd realized I could. I went to the FAA pavilion to discuss my medical issues. The guy I talked with at the medical booth turned out to be the Federal Air Surgeon, Dr. Jon Jordan. He left me believing I can get my medical back without much difficulty, as long as the doctor who sends in the paperwork includes everything the FAA asks for. He also left me with the impression he sees his job as finding ways to get pilots certified, not finding ways to disqualify them.
I also talked with the sport pilot licensing experts. They confirmed what I thought the intent of the sport pilot rules to be: a private pilot can operate under the sport pilot rules (including using his driver's license as a medical certificate) as long as he flies a light sport aircraft under day VFR rules. He's presumed to have all of the skill-based signoffs that those who just have a sport pilot certificate needs.
I didn't watch the warbird part of the airshow, or the air races; they didn't interest me much. I did see one truly impressive aircraft demonstration. Eclipse Aviation had the only two flying examples of their Eclipse 500 bizjet on display, and they showed off their flight capabilities to the crowd. They flew about like you'd expect a 6-passenger bizjet to fly, with one major difference: they're quiet. They had both aircraft make a low pass down the runway at full power, in formation - and, together, they made less noise a quarter mile or so away than a 737 passing overhead at 20,000 feet. I want one. One of these days, if I ever come up with the $1.3 million sale price, I'll have one.
A little bit later, I was at the Eclipse booth. One of their pilots came out to watch the warbirds fly past. He pointed at one, turned to me, and sait "I want one of those." I pointed at the 500 behind me and said "I want one of those." His reply: "I'll trade you." Turns out he's a Navy brat. I guess I'll let him have his foibles.
I did watch the aerobatic shows. Lots of folks doing preposterous things with small airplanes. One guy did the same preposterous things with a box-stock original Stearman trainer: less horsepower, bigger aircraft, no inverted fuel system. That was truly impressive.
No, I'm not about to do that kind of thing. The world has seen my reaction to unusual G forces. *urp*
We left after the airshow. Getting out of the grounds was much easier than I expected, yet more proof that the EAA knows what the heck they're doing. I did manage to convince Phil not to tell the folks at the Applebee's we stopped at that it was my birthday.
The drive to the Cities Thursday was uneventful. I spent some time at my client discussing the upcoming weekend, and I showed him how to bring the RS/6000 with P/390 up and down. After that, I spent $550 on a new set of Yokohama tires for the car. Whee.
The hotel I stayed at wasn't bad, although I won't be back until they change one policy: they demanded a copy of my driver's license for their files. The desk clerk said I wasn't the first to complain about the possibility of identity theft, and told me I could get it back when I checked out. I did.
The trip to Scranton was long and boring. No hassles, no excitement. There was a LOT of traffic on I-80 all the way through New Jersey, though. Got to the hotel, got online, vegged out.
Got up way early Saturday. Went to the customer site. Once I found my way to the machine room (the building is under construction, and the old way I used to go was inaccessible), I got to work. What was a 5-minute operation turned into a 3-hour job, because getting access to the box I needed to work on was a major hassle. I could either unplug 90 cables, with no assurance I'd get them all back in the same places when I was done, or else I could remove 15 circuit boards and leave them in the rack while I worked on the box. I chose the latter. It was still a pain.
The drive from Scranton to Albany was nice and scenic and not too taxing. It was a lot nicer because Avis had upgraded me for free to a Cadillac Sedan de Ville. XM radio and a comfortable car, mmm. Nice hotel in Albany, marred by apparently being the host of a soccer tournament or some such: the place was full of screaming kids. I went to bed early Saturday night, with difficulty.
The customer visit Sunday morning was at 1 AM. I made it exactly on time. The customer had already installed the server, so I didn't have a lot to do. I did figure out a few things that needed to be done, and educated him on some features. I got back to the hotel and sleep about 3:30.
I got back up about 8. I stood in line forever at the buffet behind one guy who ordered for his entire family, and then took all of the fresh waffles out of the bin. Did make my train to NYC on time, though. Caught up with michaelmink and talked with him for several hours about lots of things. The train back to Albany was delayed, but since he'd given me a pass to the Club Acela lounge, I didn't care a great deal. Lugged the pile of stuff he'd given me back to the hotel and cratered.
Monday was leisurely. My flight to Minneapolis didn't leave till almost 6 PM, so I got up late, took it easy, and spent some time packing everything into the suitcase I'd check. Unfortunately, the TSA screener decided he'd have to inspect it. They struggled with getting it closed again, all the while ignoring my suggestions on how to do it easily. One screener told me that "we do this all the time, we know what we're doing, why don't you just go on to your gate?" I got so mad I stuck around 20 minutes until the supervisor returned. When he did, he was quite apologetic, and even apologized for the fact that the people they hired for Newark were from the local area and so had a bad attitude! When I mentioned, at one popint, I'd seen a passenger toss something into his suitcase while it was being inspected, he stopped me, and went to check, right then. I think I got his attention.
The rest of the trip was smooth, or as smooth as such things ever are. I got home about 10:30, and went to bed very soon after that.
I've spent the past day and a half recovering, and preparing for the next trip. More on that in another entry.