May 15, 2012
Yes, I’m painfully aware that it has been a long time since this message service has been updated. Life certainly can get busy at times. After spending the winter back home in Nevada I have finally returned to northern Italy, completed an extensive annual inspection with the help of a very knowledgeable and professional fellow American, and have flown the Red Rockette several times. She goes well after being looked after by good friends for the winter.
The mechanic/inspector/restorer who completed the inspection is Jon Roth who is married to a French lady and they live in Sweden. They have a Stearman restoration business there. Yes, there is enough interest in the Stearman and other old warbirds here to make a living at it. There are many N (US) registered aircraft in Europe requiring the services of a person with US/FAA ratings like Jon. Jon and wife Marie also happen to own a Staggerwing for their personal family transport. Good for me! Guess it’s difficult to find a place to stash two kids in a Stearman, which has open cockpits. Eventually there will be a link available on this site to their website. For the time being: www.vintageaeroplane.com
The weather here has been mostly wonderful with the few scattered days of refreshing spring rains. There were times during the long days of work during the inspection that I would just stop and look at the view out the hangar door. The airfield was just 25 miles straight out from Runway 25 at Aviano Air Base northeast of Venice. The view was rolling green hills morphing into the Dolomites, the Italian Alps. Usually very clear but sometimes with various shades of light blue haze to give some texture to the view. Wonderful!
Speaking of green, the vineyards looked very healthy as well. This is the area of Prosecco production, the Italian sparkling wine. It is taken like water here at all times of the day, especially just after work. One could get used to this lifestyle.
After a few formation flights for a photographer, we (the RR and me) headed west to a small grass airfield near Piacenza. This flight was a tad emotional for me. My dear Austrian friend and two of his colleagues died nearby just about a year ago in severe turbulence. I hope to join at least a part of a memorial flight in their honor sometime in June. The full flight would begin in Piacenza, fly to Spain, Portugal, France, Luxembourg, and Germany. My short visit to Piacenza was to visit a new aviation friend and his wife, who makes a wonderful risotto. Have you noticed food and wine mentioned more than flying?
Pretty good reason for that. It IS Italy, after all.
Now down near Rome again visiting old friends before I head off to spend the summer wandering more northern countries. The plan of the moment is to attend a famous vintage event at La Ferte-Alais airfield south of Paris 25-27 May. Close friends from New Zealand, Matt and Jo McCaughan, will join me after that event and we will wander France a bit together. They are the folks who operate one of the best Aviator holiday experiences anywhere. www.flyinn.co.nz .
I later hope to do some family research in Slovakia and possibly the Ukraine later in the summer. We’ll see how it goes.
I have SO many people to thank for the kindness that has come my way. I will not name them all here…it’s a long list. Any of them reading know who they are. Molto Grazzie!!
Well, at least you know that I’m still around and that the wandering begins for another summer.
Captain Biff Windsock