The Trip Home

Over Vetterman’s Shoulder

One of the great things about flying your own airplane to AirVenture and back is that you get to fly a bunch of cross-country, especially if you live 1500 miles away across the great western United States. I have made the return journey in a single day–its long, but it works because you gain two hours–but this year I had a stop to make in Hot Springs, South Dakota to visit old friend and homebuilder Larry Vetterman. I wanted to take a look at his new O-320 powered Panther, and it is gorgeous – but not quite ready to be demonstrated. So instead, we hopped in his homebuilt Javron Cub (Larry has built fourteen aircraft so far…) and toured the Black hills.

Before becoming an expert exhaust builder (probably where you have heard the name), he spent a career flying airplanes for governmental entities, including tens of thousands of hours in Super Cubs helping to manage western lands. I’m not sure that he doesn’t get acrophobic if he goes above a couple hundred feet, but he does a great job of flying down among ’em. We spotted buffalo, elk, and “slow elk” (the Native American name for cattle) as we meandered our way up to the high points of the hills.

It didn’t take long before we reached out turn-around point–the in-progress mountain sculpture of “Crazy Horse”. It’s pretty amazing progress, and they’ve got a ways to go… but it is impressive.

Crazy Horse

One thing I have found interesting as I meandered back across from the Midwest is the lack of tie-down ropes or chains. I’ve always found at least a couple of spots at most airports that were equipped, but I have stopped at four airports in a row those trip that had anchors–but no ropes or chains. Not sure what is going on, but the EAA tie-downs I have carried to Oshkosh for years have come in handy. Slide the stakes out of the anchor plates, slide the rope through the tie-down, and use the anchor plates like a climber’s chock. Works great!

Tie-down rope

And finally… the winner of the “You know its an airport courtesy car when…” contest has to be the keep at the always-friendly Rawlins (WY) airport. Think what you will–its cheaper than using auto parts I guess!

Door latch
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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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