Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I like airplanes and wine!

I like airplanes.

I used to like only red wine, Cabernet to be specific, until my brother, who obsesses about wine, like I do about planes, changed that.  Wine for him is a giant research project.  My friend David says the same thing about my model building, it’s really not about building the models, it’s about doing all the research.   He’s right, I am a trained historian.

But back to my only liking red wine, and being a “snob” about whites.   My brother looked at me and said my problem was “You haven’t had a good white wine!”  After an evening of drinking “good”  whites,   I stopped being a red wine drinker and became a wine drinker.  

Which brings me to my opening statement;   I like airplanes.  Everyone knows,  I grew up around military airplanes.    If this is news to you, go read this.  It’s ok  I be here when you get back.   So I was saying I was fortunate to see military aviation at its best.  But that wasn’t the only airplanes I looked at growing up.

I wasn’t  the healthiest kid going.  I had special shoes, got glasses in fourth grade,  had a lisp and was tagged as “Gifted.”  To quote Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory “My Mom had me tested!”   All of that meant picked on Nerd.   But most of all I had Allergies!  I mean inhaler, weekly shots and Actifed, which some of my friends used to call “Act like a Sped.“ 

So what do allergies have to do with airplanes?  Well if you are a Mom who’s kid needs to get stuck twice in each arm once a week, you reward him.    What was my “carrot”  well it so happens that my Pediatrician was located within five minutes’ drive of  Doylestown Airport   

So after being stuck like a pin cushion,  Mom and I would drive over to the airport so I could look at planes.  Yes General Aviation planes.  Cessnas, Pipers, and one twin tailed small little airplane.  Yes a P-38 looking airplane, an Ercoupe!  

I really liked that tiny little shiny silver plane.   It was cool and different.  After about 15 minutes of looking at airplanes, I forgot why I was there to begin with.  The pain of those shots were taken away on the wings of that C150 flying the circuit.   I learned to like airplanes with propellers that flew from grass.

In this day and age, of instant communication, some magic is lost.   I like airplanes!  When I was a kid my family, knew I liked airplanes.  When people travelled they sent these magical pictures with writing on the back, they came with stamps and postmarks from all over the world.  On the front were pictures of jets and propeller planes with logos, and colours.   POSTCARDS   I learned about 747s and DC-8s with names like Pan Am or Northwest Orient.    They also showed not just airplanes but also airports.  Control towers, terminals, taxiways,  all would take you to faraway places.  They would then be put in a book, carefully, so they could be studied at a later.  Yes, I still have those books!  

I have a degree in Military History, and that background serves me well on Geeks and Digest.  I am a historian first, military expert second.   Over the years, I have played the fool,   joking about being bored when we talk GA or Airliners, falling asleep and snoring.   Which has given listeners the perception that I don’t care, if it doesn’t have afterburners, turboprops or flies remotely.   

I do care and do pay attention!   

I like airplanes. 

I learned to appreciate white wine!  Since a child I have learned to appreciate; the sweet sound of a vintage radial,  the robustness of a long haul airliner,  the delicacy of a Ultralight in a pattern, and most of all how important is to share  that love.   Cause like a fine wine, being an Airplane Geek is better when you share it with someone.    So my advice is go out of your comfort zone and like airplanes all airplanes!

I have always liked airplanes, and wine!   Cheers!
That is a bottle of RAPTOR CHARDONNAY ! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I’m not an expert; I play one on a podcast.

Yes, that’s right I am not an expert in spite of listeners accusations, and co-host comments.

To quote my favorite end to a podcast,  “We’re just opinionated enthusiasts.”  Thank you Mr. McHerron and Mr. Visscher. 

I also have a tiny fortune in my cube from a Sushi Lunch which says:

                                      “An expert is someone that knows so much about so little.”

I tend to bristle at the word expert, the word and what it implies makes me uncomfortable.  Well these days it makes me uncomfortable and paranoid because, usually is followed by a gotcha.  “I know you’re the expert and know so much more than me, but you were wrong about  . . . “

Two words I hate more than any others interestingly rhyme.  The first is DAVY!  Don’t ever call me that!   My eyes go to fire and thoughts of murder cross my face. Many people call me that once! Some have even lived to tell the tale.  The second is SME, pronounced “ Smee”  for Subject Matter Expert, it makes my skin crawl every time I’ve been called it.

If you listen to Airplane Geeks Long enough you’ll remember a segment called “Grill the Geeks.”  The premise, created by Rob Mark of @jetwhine fame was simple; listeners were to send in questions, to stump us.   At the time it was Max, Rob, Dan and I.   It quickly devolved to Grill the Geek, with 90% of the questions being directed at yours truly.  Eventually it ended when a question was asked no-one thought I could answer.   You can find that Story Here!    Needless to say I hated that segment and while the Blue Angels story has gone down in podcasting history, I don’t miss that segment one bit.  

I am easily played, I take the bait always!  Pick a topic:  Tankers, A-10s and numerous others.  I become animate and often exasperated.  It gets old.  I am working harder at not caving but it’s hard to change 46 years of behavior.

I had a conversation with a wise man about this.  He advised me, that you are an expert when someone else decides you are!  So if CNN calls and says you’re an expert on UAVs who are you to argue.”  

That wise man also said of our other podcast  UAV Digest is a journey! We didn’t know what we didn’t know when we started.”  “We are learning with everyone else, we just work harder at it!”  “By doing so people perceive us as the experts.”

Clarence Day says “Information’s pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience.”

For years I have told people  “ I am filled with colossal amounts of useless knowledge.”   

Yes I can tell you how to tell a C-130E from an H.   I can tell you about Amelia’s flight in a Lockheed Vega across the country, or every Blue Angels Aircraft flown by the team since 1946.   I’m still not an expert!  I have spent hours reading and writing and asking questions!  Lots of Questions! Most of which I have spent alone finding the answer to, or thinking about.   That’s all I do, I research and I investigate and I learn.  Yes I was blessed with the ability to retain this knowledge but, I had to work hard to get it.   It really doesn’t pay the bills but it has made thousands of people happy, which is a good thing.

But let me reiterate, I am not an expert.    You might want to call me one, and those are your words not mine.  I’m going to follow the words of my Co-host Max Flight, and Jesus Christ  “That’s what you say I am!”   Who am I to argue?

Me, I’m just a geek who likes Airplanes, Drones and Sci-Fi!   It’s what Geeks do we immerse ourselves and if we’re lucky we find others who are immersed in the same stuff.  I like talking about stuff!

So to end this post, how about this?  

Gary Hopkins says “Even an expert has room to improve, grow and learn a little more.  All the great masters teach this.”

Here’s to learning more! Now where’s that book on the Luftwaffe Experten I was reading? 
Yes all those books were for ONE paper!  Ah College!  Life was so much simpler!