Only at Osh

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There’s this strange time warp thing that happens the week of Airventure.  For some reason that week goes by faster than any other week of the year. I arrived on Saturday looking forward to a glorious 7 days of airplanes and friends, then *poof* just like that I’m back home again. At Osh time really does fly! Here’s a look at my last couple of days at the world’s best aviation playground.

Days Four and Five

Enlight33I didn’t think anything could top my Wednesday visit to the tower, but Thursday came very close when I had the amazing opportunity to meet SEAN D TUCKER! The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is beginning a seven year renovation project. When they finish there will be a new exhibit which will feature one of Sean D Tucker’s airplanes, which will be hung upside down (of course) at the entrance to the gallery. After the press conference he posed for pictures by his plane. I was overcome by a sudden case of shyness, but Sean D saw me and called me over. He’s such a great person!

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The other big event on Thursday was a visit to the Seaplane Base. I have been trying to get over there for years and was so excited to finally make it. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the Seaplane Base is an oasis. It’s set on a lagoon in the middle of the woods and it is calm and peaceful. We took the boat tour which only takes about ten minutes and is totally worth it.

Thursday concluded with the night show, which was rained out on Wednesday and then rescheduled. HUGE shout-out to EAA for doing that! I was so sad to think I wouldn’t see a night show this year and was thrilled that I got to see one after all. There were all the usual night displays we’ve come to love, but this year they added a drone display. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was actually pretty cool. They used around 100 drones with colored lights to create various shapes and patterns.

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Watching the fireworks with Doc – it’s a tradition!

Friday was a quiet day. I spent some time in the warbirds area watching the activity on runway 27/9. Then I traveled down to the vintage area to watch the air show with friends. It was nice to have a day to relax and take in the sights.

Only at Osh

35256400_UnknownThe expression “only at Osh” is often used by attendees to indicate an event or happening that is unique to Airventure. I had several of those moments. Visiting the ATC tower was one.  Meeting Sean D Tucker was definitely another.  Another happened when Mike’s friend told us we could find him “near the T-6 with the flag.” At any other event that would be sufficient information to find his location. At Osh, however, we searched row after row after row of T-6s and eventually had to call back for a better meeting spot.

I asked some of my friends on social media to share their “Only at Osh” moments. For some it was about the airplanes and the over-all experience:

For others, it was about the people:

And for many it was a combination of things:

For me what makes Osh truly special is… well, Osh!  It’s the place where I see more airplanes on my way to breakfast than I’ll see in a month at home.  It’s the place where I get to spend time with some of my very favorite people.  It’s the place where I get to watch airport operations to my heart’s content.  And, of course, it’s the place where the coolest stairs trucks are.  I’m ready for Osh 19!  Hope to see you there!

Want more Osh 18? Check out my pre-game,  day one and ATC visit posts.  Also, you MUST give a listen to the Flying and Life podcast! I even make a special appearance.  Or two. Or three…

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Osh 18: Day One

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At long last it has finally happened – Airventure 2018 has started. As always, every day is packed with all kinds of aviation awesomeness, and Monday was no exception.

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The day began with breakfast at the media tent. From there I headed down to Boeing Plaza where Mike from the Flying and Life podcast and I toured the Honeywell Boeing 757 test plane. It looks like a regular 757 except it has a huge propellor sticking up on one side. Inside we were able to see the computer stations where technicians monitor the test engine in flight.

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Shortly after that the new C Series from Bombardier arrived. Yes, I know it is being called an Airbus 220 now, but it’s still a C Series to me. Since i happened to be right there I decided to take a tour of it too. The cockpit is GORGEOUS. And the cabin was really quite comfortable. The seats were set at different pitches so you could sit in different locations and get a feel for how comfortable the seats might be in different configurations. The middle seats were designed to be a bit wider, which I thought was a great idea.

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In the afternoon we attended a media briefing from Piper, as well as one from Jack Pelton of EAA. He told us there were 3,000 landings on Sunday. Considering that the airport was only open for VFR flights for about 9 hours due to the morning rain, that’s a pretty crazy number. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring around Boeing Plaza and watching the airshow.

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The day wrapped up at Hartzel’s Hops and Props party. There was music and food and tents and places to sit and relax. It was an excellent way to end day one.

Want more Osh??? (Who doesn’t want more Osh!) Check out the Flying and Life podcast all this week for updates and interviews. And you might even hear from me!

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OSH17 Day One: The Doc Is In!

IMG_0261If you pay any attention to the aviation world then you know that today was the first day of Airventure Oshkosh 2017. And what an amazing day it has been! Here are just a few of the highlights:

Press Conferences

I was able to attend a couple of press conferences today. One was from Piper Aircraft, which included an overview of the company’s performance so far this year. They are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Piper Cub, which explains why there are row after row of them parked over in the Vintage area. What an impressive milestone!

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I also listened to Jack Pelton’s opening remarks. The attendance stats so far suggest that Osh17 may surpass last year. TIcket pre-sales were very strong and GA camping filled up on the first day. Mr. Pelton also spoke about the ATC privatization bill currently before Congress. If you haven’t already researched this issue, do it now. Then contact your representatives and let them know where you stand.

Airplanes! Airplanes! Airplanes!

There are so many amazing airplanes here that it can be completely overwhelming (in a totally awesome way). Some of the highlights from today include:

Doc and Fifi together at last.

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The B-1B bomber.

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A P-51 Mustang flying with two F-35s, followed immediately by two A-10s.

The Proteus.

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The Buff.

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Pipistrel’s all-electric LSA.

The only thing more wonderful than the airplanes was getting to spend time with so many old friends… many of whom I met for the first time. If you’ve ever been to Oshkosh, then that statement will make perfect sense.

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Thanks Dan/David for taking/sharing this pic!

My only complaint was the total lack of stairs truck. There were none on the plaza. Zero. Zip. Nada. I finally located a few hanging out in a secure area that I couldn’t access. It’s almost like they knew I was coming! Oh well, tomorrow is another day – and it is sure to be just as amazing!

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Oh My G’OSH17!

IMG_4292It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holiday season. I’m talking about Airventure 2017 in Oshkosh, of course! I am super excited to be returning to one of my favorite places. As you may recall, in years past I’ve “dragged” a couple of non-avgeek friends along with me. They’ve been tremendous good sports and we’ve had lots of fun. However, this year I’ll be sharing the Osh experience with my avgeek friends, several of whom will be attending for the first time. In addition to enjoying the displays and air shows, I’m planning to participate a number of events, including:

Flying and Life Podcast

Mike Karrels intends to broadcast his podcast live from Osh every evening. I hope to join him for an episode or two.  He’ll be tweeting a link to the live Youtube channel so follow him on twitter at @Flyingandlife and then join us in the Youtube chat room.

FullSizeRender (73)Oshbash 2017

Oshbash is being held on Tuesday, July 25, at 5:30pm in the media center. This is a social media gathering and networking opportunity… AND there will be LOTS of bacon jerky! Oshbash is always a ton of fun so if you are available I hope you’ll stop by! As the official bacon jerky transporter, you can definitely count me in!

EAA Radio Interview

On Thursday, July 27, I am scheduled to be a guest on EAA Radio’s Attitude Adjustment show at 11:00 am with hosts Rob Mark and Amy Laboda. No clue what we’ll be discussing, but you can bet stairs trucks will probably come up at least once.

Podcast Meetup

Also on Thursday is a podcast meet-up for listeners of the Airline Pilot Guy, Plane Talking UK, Plane Safety Podcast, the Airplane Geeks, etc. The plan is to meet at the brown arch around noon and then wander off to find some lunch together.

IMG_4303Stalking Stairs Trucks

Where there are airplanes, there will be stairs trucks. And you can be fairly sure that I’ll be the only person at Osh making a big fuss over them. But as much as I love motorized stairs, I love airplanes more. I guarantee my social media feeds will be filled with things with wings.

Speaking of which, If you aren’t already doing so, follow me on Twitter (@Jen_Niffer) and Instagram (@talesfromtheterminal). I’ll be posting lots of updates and photos through-out Osh week. I’m also planning several blog posts so stay tuned!  If you are headed to Osh17 I hope to see you there! If not, I hope you’ll keep track of my shenanigans and play along at home.

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Air Show Fever

IMG_5487It may not feel like it yet, but the calendar says that spring has arrived. You know what that means? Yes, warmer temperatures and pretty flowers are coming. But more importantly, air show season is just around the corner! Hooray! I cannot wait! I’m planning to attend two big events this year.

Wings Over Pittsburgh 

What happens when you combine amazing airplanes with a bunch aviation podcasters? I’m not 100% certain but I suspect it involves beer and a fair amount of good-natured mayhem. The show is being held over Mother’s Day weekend in May. (What mom wouldn’t want to spend her special day at an air show?) Some of

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By SSgt Nadine Barclay [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

the scheduled participants include Sean Tucker, the Super Hornet demonstration team, the F-22 demonstration team and the Thunderbirds. Admission costs nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. No, I’m not kidding! The show is sponsored by the 911th Airlift Wing. If you are anywhere even remotely nearby, I recommend you check it out! Plus for all you Airline Pilot Guy, Plane Talking UK, Plane Safety and Airplane Geeks podcast fans, there’s a meet-up planned that promises to be a ridiculous amount of fun.

Airventure Oshkosh

Yes, I know – Oshkosh is so much more than just an air show. It’s THE aviation event of the summer. 10,000 airplanes – need I say more?  This will be my fourth year so I feel I have enough experience at Osh to give a few pointers for those of you who are going for the first time.IMG_4300

Go ahead, put together a schedule. Just understand you aren’t going to follow it. There are about a million amazing things between you and the first item on your agenda. You WILL get distracted. More often than not, this is a good thing. Some of my best moments at Osh have happened when I allowed myself to get distracted. A good rule of thumb: pick one or two events that are non-negotiable and make every effort to get to them. Leave the rest of your schedule open. My suggested “must-sees” include the warbirds and the night air show.IMG_3902

Attend at least one forum. Attend several if you can, but pick at least one and go. There are very few events where you have the opportunity to learn so much from so many truly knowledgeable people. Take advantage of this!

Meet people. My first year at Osh I was only there a day and a half. I didn’t get a chance to meet anyone. The last couple of years, however, I’ve been able to spend more time at the show which has given me the chance to meet up with several online friends. This was total awesomesauce. Avgeeks tend to have an instant connection with one another – you’ve got a million old friends at Osh that you just haven’t met yet. I’m planning to spend almost the entire week at Airventure so I hope to see some of you there!IMG_4219

Just Go!

If Oshkosh and Wings Over Pittsburgh won’t fit into your schedule, never fear – there are plenty of other airshows, fly-ins and fun aviation gatherings you can attend. Check out milavia.net for a fairly comprehensive list of offerings. I also recommend the Social Flight app which is great for finding local aviation events. Or you  are welcome to share event information in the comments below. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a small air show at a local airport isn’t worth going to.  I went to a very small show last fall that was one of the best I’ve ever attended. Just remember: there is no cure for air show fever. However, catching it sure is fun!

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Year Two In Review

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The beginning of December marked two years of writing this blog as well as two years working for the airport. Wow! Seems like just yesterday I was wide-eyed and new, geeking out over all the activity on the ramp. Well… OK, I STILL geek out over the activity on the ramp. I just can’t help it! Here’s a look back at some of the things that happened (good and bad) in the past year.

img_5481Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. 2016 began with the passing of my father in early January. He had been ill for a couple of years so it wasn’t unexpected, but it definitely started the year on a down note. Then in June and again in December I had to deal with health issues. The first put me in the hospital for several days and kept me away from work for another week after that. The second didn’t keep me from working, but the three weeks it took me to recover were incredibly trying and discouraging. Yeah, in some ways this was a rough year. But thankfully there were many good things that happened too.

IMG_2335 (2)First and foremost, in April I got to fly an airplane! I still don’t quite know how that happened.  Me? Fly a plane?  I half expected the FAA to show up and put a stop to it. Thank goodness they didn’t because it was a truly amazing experience. For those of you wondering when I’ll have lesson #2, I don’t know. But I do know that I will definitely get back behind the controls at some point.

Another amazing thing that happened this year was getting to be a guest on THREE aviation podcasts:the Airplane Geeks, the Aviation Careers podcast and Plane Talking UK. Talk about completely unexpected! I never in a million years thought I would end up on a podcast, let alone three of them. It was a tremendous honor to be invited and so much fun!

IMG_4440In July I made the return trip to Oshkosh. Oh how I love that place! Being around so many airplanes is always awesome, but this year I got the chance to connect with several of my online aviation friends as well. I’m beginning to understand why people refer to Airventure as an aviation family reunion!  One of the wonderful people I had the pleasure to meet was Rob Mark, one of the hosts of the Airplane Geeks and publisher of the Jetwhine blog (among other things). Earlier this month he invited me to write a guest post about my efforts to get my daughter interested in aviation. Yet another tremendous honor! If you aren’t a regular reader of Jetwhine, I strongly recommend you check it out.  It’s always filled with great aviation content.

It was a big year for me at the airport too. If you told me when I started two years ago that I’d be learning deice pad operations I never would have believed you. (But I’d have secretly hoped you were right!) And getting to visit two ATC towers earlier this month was a dream come true. I also got to see Air Force One (twice), celebrate the re-opening of the north runway, visit the cargo airport (three times) and listen to John Glenn speak at a gathering in his honor.

img_6726I am so truly blessed to work at a place and in an industry I love so much, and to have connected with so many wonderful people. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this such an amazing year.  A special shout-out to Aerosavvy, JR and Captain Al for their guest posts. They were fantastic!  And, of course a very big thank you to all of YOU for reading and commenting on this blog!

So what does 2017 have in store? Well if 2016 taught me anything it’s that you never know what might happen. However there are some awesome things in the works, including a return trip to Oshkosh in July and a visit to Wings Over Pittsburgh in May. And maybe, just maybe, airfield driving privileges! Stay tuned!

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Great Stairs Truck Drivers in History

[Note from the Blogger: I recently had the tremendous honor of being a guest on the Plane Talking UK Podcast.  It was so much fun!  A huge thank you to Carlos and Matt! And if you haven’t watched/listened to this podcast, check it out! I promise you’ll love it!]

fullsizerender-56It occurred to me recently that it has been a while since I’ve written about my favorite ground support vehicle.  I am, of course, talking about the mighty stairs truck!  I would like to start with a bit of clarification.  There seems to be some confusion about the differences between the various types of stairs typically found at the airport: air stairs, mobile stairs, motorized stairs, etc.  I attempted to consult the world’s foremost airport stairs experts on the best way to explain the differences… but alas, I couldn’t find any.  So I am afraid you’re stuck with me.  Here’s how I see it.

These are air stairs:

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They are stairs that are built into an airplane.  Because they are actually part of the plane itself, they are not part of the ground support vehicle family.

These are mobile stairs:

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They are essentially metal stairs on wheels that can be pushed by ground crew or towed by a tug.  They are NOT motorized.  They are at the bottom of the airport stairs food chain.

These are motorized stairs:

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These stairs do have a motor and can be driven around as needed.  The driving compartment, however, is open to the elements, similar to the way some airport tugs are.  These stairs are far cooler than simple mobile stairs, but they are definitely NOT the coolest of the airport stairs.

This is a stairs truck:

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As the name suggests, it’s a truck with stairs on the back.  The truck looks like any other utility truck that you might see on the road.  Technically stairs trucks are not street legal… at some point I’ll have to work on changing that.  It’s fairly easy to see why the stairs truck is king of the airport stairs.  Because it’s a truck.  With stairs on the back.  Enough said.

I wanted to clarify that point because it bears heavily on the subject at hand: the greatest stairs truck drivers in all of history! OK fine, so most of these people didn’t actually drive stairs trucks. But they would have if they could have! (Yes savvy reader, you read that correctly. I did say “most!”)

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By Billy Hathorn (National Portrait Gallery, Public domain) [CC0]

Benjamin Franklin

If ever there was an historical figure who would appreciate a good stairs truck, it’s Benjamin Franklin. I mean hello – he signed the Declaration of Independence! Nothing says revolutionary quite like a stairs truck. Oh – you wanna fly kites in storms? I know the perfect place!

Hatshepsut

I know what you’re thinking – what the who? Hatshepsut. She was a pharaoh in ancient Egypt. No, not like Cleopatra. Cleopatra was queen. Hatshepsut was actually pharaoh. And to drive home that point she wore a fake beard and everything.  A woman with that kind of determination is sure to immediately grasp the advantages (and awesomeness) of a stairs truck. Why ride in a noisy chariot around the city when you could perch your throne on top of a stairs truck where the whole world would be sure to see you?

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By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Captain Jack Sparrow

But Jenn! He’a a fictional character – he’s not real! Ah but if he WAS real you know he’d have been all over the stairs truck. He understands that stairs trucks aren’t about tires and fuel and wiper blades – that’s what a stairs truck needs. What a stairs truck is, what it REALLY is, is freedom. And it’s a way to get into places you probably shouldn’t be.

Michelangelo

No, not the Ninja Turtle – the renaissance painter! He’s the guy who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I’m sure when he got the call from the Pope he looked up and thought, “The ceiling? You gotta be kidding me!” Then when he saw the system of ropes he was supposed to hang from while painting he said “Oh heck NO!” and built his own platform to use. Now if he’d had access to a stairs truck you can bet he’d have immediately grasped the potential. Remove a section of wall, drive in and paint with ease! Just think of all the amazing ceiling paintings there might have been if only stairs trucks had been invented a little sooner.

Tom Chilton

For those of you who are fans of motorsports (or if you’ve been following this blog for a while) the name might ring a bell.  Tom Chilton is an auto racing driver who has spent a good portion of his career racing in the British Touring Car Championship series, the World Touring Car Championship, Formula One… blah blah blah.  Whatever.  What REALLY matter is, he has driven a stairs truck!  And not just driven it, RACED it! That automatically makes him one of the coolest people of all time.

 

 

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Nope, this picture has nothing to do with stairs trucks.

OSH16 is P.A.S.T.

IMG_4431The last week of July I once again ventured forth to the aviation mecca that is Airventure Oshkosh. My happy place! This was my third year going and every year I’ve stayed longer and done more. (Yet I still missed things I really wanted to do and see. How the heck does that keep happening?) As you might have guessed from the title of this post, P. A. S. T. stands for more than just days gone by. It’s my way of summarizing what Oshkosh means to me.

A is for Airplanes (Yes I’m going out of order.)

IMG_4433OK, EAA – have you been stalking my twitter feed or reading my private diary? (I don’t keep a private diary, so that would be really weird.) The planes on display at this year’s show featured pretty much all of my faves including:

-The C-5 Galaxy
-The A-10 Warthog
-The F-18 Hornet
-An Alaska Airlines 737-900ER
-A Cathay Pacific 747-8 (which I missed because I left the day it arrived)
-More WW II era planes than I ever thought I’d see all in one place

FullSizeRender (49)I walked in, around, under and through as many of these planes as I possibly could. But even better than the planes on the ground were the planes in the air. The F-16 and F-18 demos were spectacular. The aerobatic performers were breath-taking. The Martin Mars water bomber was so unbelievable I just stood there with my mouth open. Team AeroShell in the night show was absolutely gorgeous!

IMG_4434Although it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite out of all the performances, I’m going to have to give a nod to the Canadian Snowbirds, who put on a show that I struggle to put into words. If the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels demonstrate power, then the Snowbirds demonstrate poetry. Lyrical isn’t typically how I’d describe an air show performance, but it’s the only word that really fits.

P is for People

IMG_4184This year I finally learned why Airventure is often referred to as an aviation family reunion. For me it began with Laura, my travel companion, who is an awesome friend that I hadn’t seen in almost two years. She’s not an #avgeek but she is a photographer who found a ton of material to capture at Osh. She fell in love with the warbirds and their nose art. When we stumbled upon the WWII encampment she was in heaven. Day two of our visit she embarked on a “chicks that rock” campaign whereby she got her picture taken with every female service member she came across.

The reunion theme continued with all the great online IMG_4029friends that I got to meet face to face, many for the very first time. It started on Tuesday at the fabulous Oshbash, hosted by Dan Pimentel and Airplanista. I don’t want to try to list names because I know I’ll leave someone out, but I was almost overwhelmed by all the hugs and friendly faces. This continued through-out the week. One friendly face that I got to see for a second year in a row was Kevin Lacey from Airplane Repo. I told him about my first flying lesson and he encouraged me to get my butt back in a plane for lesson number two.

I also got to meet the entire Canadian Snowbird team. First they impressed me by taking time to join the crowds who were applauding the honor flight veterans. Then they came over to the fence and chatted with everyone while signing posters and posing for pics. They were extremely friendly and open – terrific ambassadors for aviation.

IMG_4438Probably my biggest “people moment” actually involved two complete strangers. The A-10 is one of my very favorite airplanes and although I have seen an A-10 before, I have never gotten to see one fly in person. I just happened to be in a good spot relatively near the flight line when they arrived. I was so excited and overwhelmed that I was in tears. There were a couple of guys there who, instead of thinking I was crazy, totally understood how I felt and talked with me for a bit about why A-10s are so awesome. That moment really epitomizes why I love Osh so very much. Not only am I surrounded by amazing planes, I’m surrounded by amazing people who share a passion for aviation and who understand each other. For at least one week each year I don’t have to explain why airplanes are so cool.IMG_4303

ST is for Stairs Trucks 

You knew I wasn’t going to leave them out! Don’t worry – all the Oshkosh stairs trucks are present and accounted for. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t take every opportunity to get up close and personal with them. I’ve even discovered yet another reason why stairs trucks are awesome – they’re an excellent way to get a birds-eye view of all the airplanes in Boeing Plaza!

OSH17

IMG_4432I never knew four days could go by as quickly as my four days at Airventure 2016 did.  It seemed like we had just arrived when suddenly it was time to say goodbye. And oh how I hate saying goodbye!  Leaving Oshkosh was really, really hard to do.  But a stop by O’Hare for a little plane spotting with a couple of twitter friends sure helped a lot.  And looking ahead to Osh17 helps too.  As Chris Palmer put it on his post-Osh podcast: whatever it is that you love about aviation, Oshkosh has it.  IMG_4440Commercial airplanes? Vintage? GA? Helicopters? Balloons? Yes, yes, yes, yes and YES! So how about it?  Will YOU be at Osh17? Sure hope to see you there!

Special thanks to my Osh16 partner in crime, Laura Kenneson, for walking a million miles on blistered feet, for not laughing when I suggested we stop by O’Hare on the way home and for allowing me to use some of her awesome pictures on this post.  

Also, if you haven’t listened to Airplanegeeks podcast #412, check it out.  Not only does Rob Mark provide an excellent Osh wrap-up, but David Vanderhoof shares his story “Suzy Goes to the Stars” which happens to feature a couple of cameos by a stairs truck with a very familiar name…

 

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One Year Bloggiversary!

IMG_0365Can you believe it has been one whole year since I started this blog? Wow! I wasn’t sure whether I’d last one month, let alone 12 of them… in a row! But 30 posts and 1,564,456,489 words later (I just made that number up – I’m too lazy to go back and count) the blog is still going strong!

My First Year Of Blogging – Top Five

IMG_02791. The Airport!

Not coincidentally, this week also marks my one year anniversary working for the airport. I can hardly believe it!  One year of daily plane spotting! One year of resisting the temptation to ride the baggage carousel! One year of being taunted by the motorized stairs parked right outside my department! Seems like just yesterday I was getting lost in random staircases and trying to figure out how to get to Concourse A.  Although my job can sometimes be stressful, I LOVE every moment of being at the airport.  I get to see airplanes taking off and landing EVERY DAY. How freaking cool is that? I love being a part of the aviation industry, and I hope I get to continue for many years to come.

Emirates 12. Emirates 777

Let’s see… I got to stand out on the apron and watch the first official flight of an Emirates 777 into the cargo airport, complete with a water cannon salute AND a stairs truck. Heck yes this is one of my very favorite moments from the last year!

3. Tour of the Airfield

Driving around the airfield, riding in a broom truck and, best of all, zipping up the runway in a shuttle bus! Yep, this was an AWESOME experience! I hope I get the chance to do something similar at the cargo airport.

IMG_61824. Oshkosh 2015

Osh was awesome in so many ways… I got up close and personal with a stairs truck, sat in the cockpit of a FedEx A300F4 sat in the cockpit of a Sequoia Falco, saw more cool airplanes than I could begin to count and got to meet some really awesome people. Osh is, without a doubt, my happy place!

5. All of YOU!!!

I am so humbled and thankful for everyone who has taken the time to not only read my silly ramblings, but to share them with others! Thank you all so very much! I do want to take a moment to send a special thanks to a few people. I’m including their twitter handles because if you aren’t following them you are really missing out.IMG_8157

 

Eric Auxier (@Capnaux) and Dan Pimentel (@Av8rdan) who are not only excellent authors/bloggers, but who were brave enough to allow me to guest post!

Ken Hoke (@aerosavvy), Ron Rapp (@RonRapp1), Lew W (@atclew58), Jeff Kanarish (@atc_jeff), David (@davidvlynn) and Jeffrey Roehr (@JR_justJR) who have given me a tremendous amount of support, and whose blogs have been wonderful sources of information and inspiration.

IMG_0281Blog Trivia and Give-Away!

OK all you long-suffering readers – how much do you remember from the last year? Here’s a chance to put your knowledge to the test! Check out the questions below and email your answers to talesfromtheterminal@gmail.com or DM them to me on twitter, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing to get a pack of airport trading cards. (There are three cards in each pack – one for each airport.) I’ll pick two winners.  You don’t even have to get the answers right – I’ll still put you in the drawing. Heck, you don’t actually even have to answer at all – just tell me you want in the drawing and I’ll put you in.  You have until December 9, 2015.  Seriously, it doesn’t get any easier!

IMG_0033 (1)1. Who lives in the house next to the north runway?
a) CFO
b) Head of Airfield
c) CEO
d) Me!

2. What event led me out onto the apron for the very first time?
a) Fire Alarm
b) Stairs Truck sighting!
c) Airfield tour
d) Going to a different concourse

unnamed3. How many escalators are in the airport?
a) 17
b) 23
c) 32
d) 41

4. Which of the following is NOT one of my favorite plane spotting locations?
a) Employee Lot
b) Top of the parking garage
c) Concourse C
d) Concourse B

800px-Airport_mobile_stairs_and_vehicles_1Airport Vehicle Personality Quiz!

You all know how much I love airport ground support vehicles.  And by now you know which one is my favorite.  But what about you?  What ground support vehicle is your spirit animal? Take my airport vehicle personality quiz and find out! It is completely non-scientific and totally silly but then again, so are pretty much all the other personality quizzes out there.  I took the quiz myself and, of course, I got STAIRS TRUCK! (Duh – what else would I get?) Check it out and let me know what you get!

IMG_9754Airport Revenue Poll – The Answer Revealed

If you follow me on twitter then you might have seen my poll in which I asked followers whether they think my airport makes the most revenue from airline fees, concessions, hangar/tenant rent or parking.  You may be surprised to learn that the answer is NOT airline fees. The process of determining what to charge airlines for landing fees, etc. is complex and involves a lot of different factors.  The fees need to be acceptable to the airlines or guess what?  They’ll simply fly somewhere else!  As for the other poll choices, my airport does make some money from concessions as well as from rent paid by the various tenants and from hangar and tie-down rental.  However the largest percentage of revenue comes from… parking! Well done to everyone who got it right!

So, What’s Next?

What will year 2 at the airport hold? Only time will tell! However, I’m fairly certain it will include more silliness, more airport vehicles, more airplanes and, of course, MORE STAIRS TRUCKS! Stay tuned!

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Epic Oshkosh 2015

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One of many epic airplanes I encountered during my epic visit to Osh15!

If you’ve read my post Osh Dreaming in which I detail last year’s trip to EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh then you know how much I was looking forward to the return trip this year.  Let me assure you, Osh 15 was every bit as epic as I had hoped it would be… and then some!  We spent more than twice as much time at Osh this year (3.5 days vs. 1.5 days last year) which means we had more than twice as much time to get into trouble… er, I mean to attend forums and workshops, visit exhibitors and drool over all those fabulous airplanes! And as if EAA knew I was coming, they also provided me with a history-making moment involving my favorite ground support vehicle – THE STAIRS TRUCK!

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Look at that plane! And that one! And that one! Squirrel!

IMG_6266Here’s the thing that makes Oshkosh so ridiculously amazing – there are airplanes everywhere.  And I do mean EVERYWHERE.  From the moment you walk through the main gate you are surrounded by airplanes pretty much as far as the eye can see. This is completely wonderful… and totally distracting.  Prior to Osh I spent several days reviewing the list of forums, workshops, movie screenings, meet and greet events, etc. and carefully mapped out a schedule of things to do each day.  All that planning went out the window the moment I arrived. “OK, let’s head over to the forums and…  IMG_5989Oh my goodness look at the Airbus 350! Wow!  Look at the engines! Oooh look, they’re pushing it out to the flight line!  Holy cow – look at that take-off!  Oh… damn it!  I just missed three events I wanted to attend!”

That said, I did make it to Oshbash and I  attended a forum presentation by Gary Reeves of PilotSafety.org.  I also made it over to the Ultralights area and spent time in the Homebuilds section, neither of which I got to see last year.  I made a special point of getting back to the Vintage and Warbird areas – there’s just something special about those old planes. I’m glad that so many people have lovingly and carefully labored to restore them and keep them flying.

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Yes, that’s me sitting in the cockpit of this way cool Sequoia Falco. My friend Slav introduced me to his friend Eric, who introduced me to his friend Randy, who bravely allowed me to sit in the plane. Only in Oshkosh!

The People Are Pretty Darn Cool Too…And Did I Mention Airplanes?

IMG_6174This year I had the extreme pleasure of finally getting to meet face-to-face with some people I had previously known only via twitter or from websites/blogs.  It’s true what they say – avgeeks really are like one big family.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve never met in person before, if you love airplanes then you automatically have something to talk about.  Actually, you have lots to talk about.  IMG_6049I had a couple of celebrity sightings, the coolest of which involved Kevin Lacey, star of the Discovery Channel show Airplane Repo.  Louise and I were headed to stake out a spot to watch the night air show when I happened to see him standing just off Boeing Plaza. I debated for a moment whether to go say hello and then decided what the heck – after all, it’s Oshkosh! He was very friendly and quite graciously agreed to a few pictures.  Actually, he vetoed the first set of pics that were taken and made me delete them because there was a car behind us.  He insisted we face the other way so there would be an airplane behind us instead.  Ah yes, a man after my own heart!

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Air shows and Honor Flights and Concerts… Oh Heck Yeah!

IMG_6269The Air Shows at Osh 2015 were awesome, as always.  It’s hard to beat not one but TWO Harriers flying around.  And the F22 Raptor.  And a jet powered biplane. (No, I’m not kidding!) And warbirds, of course.  And the always-amazing night show, followed by fireworks.  But for me the most moving and heartfelt moment of Osh came when the honor flight arrived.  The veterans on board had spent the day in Washington DC and were welcomed back with  a water cannon salute as well as enthusiastic applause. Afterwards there was a concert featuring Gary Sinese and the Lt. Dan Band.  If you ever have a chance to to see this band, I HIGHLY recommend it!  They put on a great show and I danced like a fool through the whole thing.

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Look! It’s a STAIRS TRUCK!!!! Oh yeah, and there’s an Airbus or something attached to it.

THE Most EPIC Moment At Oshkosh!

On the evening we arrived, Louise and I decided to wander through Boeing Plaza just to see what was on display.  I’m pretty sure there were lots of airplanes, but I didn’t notice them right away because I only had eyes for the not one, but TWO stairs trucks that were positioned on either side of the Airbus 350.  The stairs trucks were roped off and there were a lot of people around so I didn’t feel the time was right to attempt to get close. Instead I chose to bide my time and wait for an opportunity.  Which, as it turns out, happened the next day.  The Airbus apparently had other places to be so it flew away.  And in the few moments between when it took off and the next plane arrived, THIS happened:

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We were surrounded by the most amazing collection of airplanes anywhere in the country and I was getting my picture taken with the stairs truck. Yes, I know.

Just as I was on the verge of making a dash for the door so Louise could snap a quick pic of me behind the wheel, a driver appeared, followed shortly by a FedEx Airbus A300F4. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to get inside the stairs truck, but as it turned out I got to do something else which was almost (but not quite) even more excellent – climb the stairs!

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And once I climbed those stairs I remembered the REAL reason why stairs trucks are so completely epic – they give you the ability to get to THIS:

IMG_6299That’s right – someone else was crazy enough to allow me into the cockpit of an airplane.  Louise had been in a cockpit once before when she was five. Since that gives her twice as much time on the flight deck as me, she got the Captain’s seat.  FedEx wisely had someone there keeping an eye on us. (Of course I couldn’t resist asking the poor guy about this button and that one and that one and that one.) It was truly an amazing experience I won’t soon forget!  But the absolutely most epic thing that happened to me at Osh 15 was this:

I GOT A STAIRS TRUCK OF MY VERY OWN!!!!!

IMG_6307 (2)Thanks EAA! For all these reasons and many more, Oshkosh is my happy place. I had an AMAZING time and I can’t wait for Airventure 2016!