WACO Homecoming

waco01Troy, Ohio, was once home to the most successful airplane manufacturer in the world. That manufacturer, WACO Aircraft Company, ceased production in 1947 but the city keeps the memories alive with Historic WACO Field at the south edge of town. A museum, learning center, and runway see action all year long but the annual fly-in brings in quite a bit of extra action, particularly for the runway. I attended this year’s fly-in on Saturday, the middle of its three day run.

waco02waco03waco04The dozen or so WACOs parked on the ground made a colorful and impressive display. I have the feeling that there were more of the planes here on my first visit to the fly-in in 2006 but I can’t quantify that and a dozen WACOs is still a lot of WACOs.

waco06waco05There were plenty of “don’t touch” reminders but attendees were otherwise free to walk among the airplanes for up close viewing. Only after I got home and started to prepare this post did I realize that it is likely that not all of those gorgeous planes I admired were vintage. It had somehow escaped me that the WACO Aircraft Corporation of Battle Creek, Michigan, started building reproductions of the WACO YMF in 1986. The reproductions have the word “classic” in their logo so I should have been able to easily identify them if I’d only known to look. On the other hand, it was probably better not knowing and believing that all those great looking machines were older than me.

waco07waco08waco09A tremendous increase in museum space since I was last here means that several airplanes, including some that were displayed outside in 2006, are now displayed under cover. Maybe that contributed, just a bit, to my sense of fewer WACOs on the field.

waco12waco11waco10A big attraction is the availability, for a fee, of rides in the open planes. Passengers, two maximum, sit in front of the pilot. These pictures show a vintage (no “classic” in the logo) WACO taxiing from its spot among the other aircraft, gaining speed down the grass runway, then smoothly rising above the corn. My guess is that that’s a buddy and not a paying passenger in the front compartment.

waco13waco14waco15I’ll close with a 1993 WACO Classic YMF (I learned that later.) coming in with a pair of happy customers, seat backs in the upright position, sitting up front.

Cleveland Air Show

Leapfrogs at Cleveland Air ShowMy sailor son has had some good assignments and some that weren’t so good. The one he has currently is better than good. He was once a journalist but in today’s Navy, he is a Mass Communications Specialist or MC. He is one of two MCs presently assigned to the Leap Frogs, the Navy’s demonstration parachute team. He is stationed in San Diego but wasn’t there when I visited a couple of weeks ago because he was traveling with the team for performances in Milwaukee and Chicago. They were also to be part of the Labor Day Air Show in Cleveland, Ohio, and that was close enough to Cincinnati for me to make it.

Golden Knight with Canadian flagLeap Frog with USA flagOn Friday, I drove to near Cleveland while the Leap Frogs practiced and prepared for the show on Saturday. In the evening, Fletcher, my son, and I got together for dinner. He gave me a pass for the show and told me to text him once I was there. I arrived a little after the gates opened at 9:00 AM and I sent my text. A couple of messages and a few minutes later Fletcher and I found each other near the announcer’s stand. At dinner he had made some comment about getting me a good view. He now guided me past the fellows guarding the entrance to the reserved seating and the VIP area. I was soon standing with the Leap Frog ground crew right next to the landing zone. The jumpers were already airborne. The Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights, were also performing at the show and the two teams were opening the show with a combined jump delivering both the Canadian and United States flags. The two national anthems were sung as their respective flags slowly descended from the sky. The two teams would both do separate shows later in the day.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowLeap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowThe picture at the top of the article was taken at the later Leap Frogs show as were the two at the right. I apologize for the lack of names but, since I don’t remember them all, I won’t use any. The group’s size varies from time to time and, with only four jumpers, is at the small end of the range just now. It has been as high as fifteen and the count will start increasing before long.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowLeap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowNot only are these guys incredibly skilled, they’re pretty darned nice. As soon as possible after landing, they were shaking hands and talking with spectators over the fence. Once the show part was actually over, they moved to where show attendees had easy access while they packed their ‘chutes. Everyone who approached them was greeted with a smile and sometimes, when a youngster looked a little shy, it was the Leap Frog who did the approaching. The little fellow in the first picture spoke with a couple of the Leap Frogs before settling down to help pack a ‘chute. The second picture shows two sons being photographed by their proud fathers. One wears a parachute and stands beside the ‘chute’s owner. The Leap Frogs happily pose with all who ask. The second son is kneeling on the right side of the picture. Yep, that’s my boy Fletcher.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowWith the parachutes packed the team agreed to a photo for me then a photo with me. I said they’d pose with anybody.

In the evening, these guys jumped onto second base with the US flag while the national anthem was being performed before a Cleveland Indians’ game. Fletcher did the announcing for that one. It took the jumpers quite awhile to leave the field as they were greeted and high-fived by fans at the front of the stands. Then, after they were off the field, there were plenty of folks wanting to say hello or thanks or ask for a picture. When they came up to their seats to watch part of the game, they were greeted with applause and cheers and more requests for pictures. Two young fans approached with baseballs to be autographed.

Wing walker at Cleveland Air ShowAerobatics at Cleveland Air ShowBlue Angels at Cleveland Air ShowAlthough they were my favorite attraction and the reason I was there, the Leap Frogs were not really the only thing going on at the air show. Among the many in air attractions was some fantastic wingwalking — and hanging — by Jane Wicker, some impressive aerobatics by Sean D. Tucker, and a great performance by the navy’s Blue Angels.

Grumpy's CafeIt has absolutely no connection with the air show but I really enjoyed my 3 cheese omelet at Grumpy’s Cafe and wanted to give them a shout out. Great food and prices and a very friendly staff. The tasty Cajun potatoes have just a little zing and I ended up with a glass of water in addition to that small cup of coffee. Most folks will be just fine with them.

Happy Belated Birthday to My Blog

The first Sunday that saw me fail to make a real blog post was the first Sunday after the blog passed the one year mark. Ironic, eh? This blog was launched on August 7, 2011. On August 12, 2012, I was in the middle of a road trip and had run out off pre-written articles with no time to finish one that wasn’t quite ready. So, after fifty-two consecutive Sundays of posting something with at least a little food value, I posted an apologetic surrender in a basically empty post without realizing that the date was anything special. The next week I posted the My Gear article that I’d managed to finish while on the road and the following week posted an article about a hamburger joint after I’d been home a few days. It was the very next day that I got to thinking that I’d been doing this awhile and looked into things to discover that I’d made it exactly one year before stumbling.

A semi-educated guess is that there were about 3800 page views in the blog’s first year with the top three posts being the book review of The Long Ride, an article on an endangered local historic building, the Twenty Mile House, and an article on a day at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati.