Originally published November 1997
Chuck Yeager (not a Chapter member) came and boomed us again, twice. Once on Saturday, 18 October and again on Sunday, 19 October. But even the day before on Friday afternoon, many of us were frantically running around Hangar 1600 getting things set up.
Norm Howell, master coordinator and airplane parkmeister, was pinging again when I arrived with the first load of stuff for the booth. It seems we already had airplanes arriving (at their scheduled time), and the big, ugly Teledyne Ryan Global Hawk UAV, which was supposed to be in place at 1100, didn't show up until about 1430. Sell all of your stock in Teledyne Ryan--if they can't tow a stinkin' UAV across the base on time with a schedule that was layed out months in advance, what makes you think they can make it work? End of Teledyne Ryan bashing.
Norm finally was able to start moving the airplanes into the hangar. Even though Hangar 1600 is a huge place, we quickly filled it up with something approaching 100 airplanes. We could have put in more if NASA's engineless airplanes, various UAVs (at least the Predator uses a cool engine--the Rotax 912), a U-2 and a B-2 weren't taking up OUR room! We ended up with overflow parking in the wash rack.
One of the last RVs to show up was the previously mentioned RV-6A of Rich and Karol Hansen, the Copperstate Grand Champion. It actually worked out well, because we were able to put them in a prime spot as the completed aircraft in our project display. We were able to show Jim King's tail feathers, Dave McAllister's wings and Paul and Victoria Rosales' fuselage (on gear) as part of the display. It really helped people understand better how the airplane parts go together. Also as part of the project display was my Bearhawk parts, including all sorts of ribs and wing spars. Thanx to Paul Rosales for arranging the display.
On the other side of the Hansen's RV-6A was Nemesis, brought in by Jon and Tricia Sharp. If you've never seen them pull the airplane out of the trailer, you really should. It's an engineering marvel.
As for all of the people who came in those airplanes, Chris Reeder, Connie Farmer, and Harry Richardson were doing yeoman service scrambling to get housing for everybody. We would have been more prepared if the Air Force and celebrities would quit crashing airplanes and diverting our attention from important stuff. We eventually got everyone taken care of.
Miles Bowen brought in his Cessna 170B and Gretchen Lund brought in her Mooney to cycle kids through the cockpit to promote the Young Eagles program. Also on display was the Palmdale Learning Center Kitfox, brought in by Bob and Carol Hoey.
Bill Grahn, Gary Aldrich, and George Gennuso brought in the chapter booth and set it up. Norm finally got to see it and pronounced it good. Our big plywood chapter logo finally has a home, six years after its creation. Bill Grahn engineered a solution to attach it to the booth. It looks as though the logo was meant for this purpose--it was just six years ahead of its time. We had my little TV/VCR there playing Ultimate Flights. The chapter's TV has now been MIA for a year.
Jim Payne brought in his Discus "World's Fastest Glider" sailplane and spent the weekend talking about how he set the record. Charlie and Glenna Wagner displayed their RV-6A instrument panel. Charlie will probably be doing final assembly of his RV-6A by the time you read this.
Erbman's Pedal Pitts was back again and as popular as ever.
Along with those previously mentioned, the following people also came out and helped during the weekend (my apologies to anyone I may have forgotten): Ron Applegate, Jack Roth, and Bob Waldmiller. Gerry Curtis was back to help us out, this time as a full fledged Chapter 1000 member. We also thank the following Chapter 49 members who came to help us out (all were professed friends of the Project Police): Dick and Rosan Monaghan, Frank Roncelli, Jack Hakes (with his RV-6 Grampa's Delight), Jack Huffman, and Dave Webber.
As usual with this group, we started getting a little nutty during the Open House. I'm not sure who started it, but soon all of the black-shirted members of the Project Police Tactical Assault Force were sporting Area 51 badges. After all, if the Project Police are all powerful and omniscient, then they would obviously have access to all areas.
We had several very successful innovations this year. One was the project display, and mentioned earlier. I also had photos of the construction of the Bearhawk thus far plus pictures of the prototype which were used frequently to answer the question "What aircraft are those parts for?" One passerby at least knew enough to realize that something was awry--with the Bearhawk spar next to the various RV parts, he was able to recognize that my spar was much too long for an RV wing (it's for the high altitude U-2 type variant…yea, that's the ticket…only the capstrips are all in the wrong place for a cantilever wing…).
Another innovation was the "Please Touch These Parts" table, populated with various test pieces, parts with mistakes, and even an RV aileron that reportedly had a mistake in it, although we could never determine what it was. Since these parts would never go into an airplane and were no loss if damaged, they were offered to the public to handle and satisfy that tactile urge. It was our way of trying to be more open and sound less like "We'd like you to join our club and be our friend BUT KEEP YOUR STINKIN' HANDS OFF OUR STUFF!" It too was highly successful. It was entertaining how many people read the signs on the table and saw what they EXPECTED to see, as in "Please Don't Touch…." We had to tell them to read it again.
A big hit, primarily with the school aged set, was a computer set up with our Chapter 1000 Web Site on the hard drive. This allowed the kids to surf our web site without running off into some other sites on the Web that had nothing to do with EAA. Hopefully many of them went home and hit the real site to see more. After all, we printed the URL on just about everything.
Sunday afternoon, as soon as the Thunderbirds were done doing their thing, we once again successfully accomplished the seeming impossible and launched about 100 airplanes in one hour with no damage and no injuries.
I've seen a report that 475,000 people showed up the first day this year. Hopefully we've convinced some of them to consider the exciting world of Sport Aviation. We'll be back next year, and looking for you to join in the fun.
Contents of The Leading Edge and these web pages are the viewpoints of the authors. No claim is made and no liability is assumed, expressed or implied as to the technical accuracy or safety of the material presented. The viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of Chapter 1000 or the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Revised -- 25 April 1998