Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Antique Fly-In and airshow

When my dad was here, Max and I took him to the antique fly-in. There were hundreds of old planes, which my dad loves. There were three Bellancas, like my dad had when I was a kid.

Max liked the snow cones, the corporate jet the crew dicked around with for 20 minutes getting parked, and the shuttle ride across to the Air Museum.

The museum is the home of the Spruce Goose.
Most people are surprised the Spruce Goose is in McMinnville, including my dad, who's an aviation enthusiast (he just came from the huge EAA fly-in at Oshkosh). Seems like they could do some better promotion, if people with an interest don't even know where it is.

Let me digress: I think there should be big billboards on I-5. "A beautiful detour to see the Aviator's masterpiece." There is a billboard on 99W in Dundee, showing the Spruce Goose in the clouds, which is just bullshit, since the thing only flew once, for about a minute, just a few feet off the water.
A better billboard: make several, featuring cropped-in views of the plane. How often do you have pictures of things on billboards that are way bigger than the billboard? Put three billboards in series, a couple miles apart. The first one shows two engines and a float, the second one shows the bow and cockpit, third one is looking down the wing so you get an overview of the whole. Mostly the signs would be that distinctive silver-gray, and they'd have the current tagline "it's big."
Sorry. That's the kind of thing I think about. Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

The Spruce Goose is big. So big you don't even notice the huge wing stretching over all the other planes, because your brain interprets it as 'ceiling'. They have an SR-71 Blackbird sitting under the wing next to a Titan missile. Lots of good stuff, including a bunch of helicopters. It seems like they changed a lot of the toys in the store, and focus more on models you can build, including one that was $120. They used to have a lot more hideously-expensive-Chinese-made crap, like the $20 plastic aircraft carrier that sinks. It did come with several little metal airplanes, but it was worth about $5 and still should've floated. I have a personal war with shitty toys that make my kid cry 15 minutes after I've bought it. Every time I break my "no shitty toy that breaks right away" rule I regret it. Plastic crossbow pistols? Total Crap. Good for about 15 minutes of wailing. Sinkable aircraft carrier? Mediocre crap, good for 3 days of peevish complaining.
Boy, another digression.

Aside from the toys, Max likes the flight simulator you can climb inside of. Basically it's a videgame with a really cool seat. He got good at it right away. Unfortunately, it was out of order this time.
The other cool kid thing is the set-up that lets you send a Navy jet down a wire to land on a carrier deck. It seems to work no matter what you do, but my dad explained you're supposed to catch the middle rubber band. It's cool to play with, but it might be due for a tune-up or clearer explanation of the goal.

The nice thing about the McMinnville event is that a lot of the planes are parked on dirt, so you don't have that hot asphalt cooking you. Airplane events are usually really bright and hot, then they get loud. My favorite part was the pint of Sierra Nevada I had.
I do like to look at old planes, though. My favorites are the Ercoupes and biplanes or floatplanes of any kind. My dad said my mom would've gotten an Ercoupe "if she was single." She liked all the planes with the extra round vertical stabilizers, like the Bellanca and the Constellation (her favorite plane, I think). The Ercoupe is kind of the Nash Metropolitan of airplanes.

I was startled to see my Ercoupe search turn up this page on Sheldon Brown's site. He's the guru of all internet bicyclery, and a seminal figure of the fixed-gear renaissance. Small internet world.

About half the pictures I took ended up being AVIs. The mode switch on Angelina's ELF is easily changed when pulling the camera out of one's pocket. The little switch slides over, and "RRr". They start with one frame of a nicely composed airplane, then a sickmaking swing through a 95 degree arc, some asphalt, and then another frame of the same plane. Ick.

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