Tag Archives: in

Clear Lake Splash In

wpid11819-C59F0392.jpgI took a trip a few hours north of here to check out the Clear Lake Splash In. It is a gathering of float planes and amphibians on (surprisingly enough) Clear Lake. I should note that I have no idea why this lake is so named because the green weed that lined the shore and got bound up on anything entering the water was anything but clear.

wpid11825-AU0E2860.jpgI was writing up a piece for GAR and the article can be seen at the following link. http://www.globalaviationresource.com/v2/2014/10/09/aviation-event-review-clearlake-splash-in-2014/. There are plenty more images from the day there. The ones here are just a sample of the day. My friend Eric took his plane there and was the one who let me know about the day in the first place. He says it was a lot smaller than in previous years. That is a shame but it was still a fun day out. The location is very pleasant, the atmosphere relaxed and, as the day drew on, the light just got better and better. I will be back!

Will We Ski?

We are creeping up on a day that may or may not prove to be a good day out.  This one is weather dependent – something that is often true but in this case more so than normal.  At the end of January, EAA schedule their annual ski plane fly in.  Held at Pioneer Field it is combined with a chili cook and a celebration of the birthday or Audrey Poberezney, wife of the founder of EAA.

Aside from the weather being good enough to fly, two other things are required.  First, there has to be enough snow on Pioneer Field for the planes to land.  Second, there has to be snow at wherever they are taking off from!  (Some planes do have skis with wheels that can go through them so are more flexible in operation but they are in the minority.)  If the snow isn’t playing ball, the fly in has lost its main interest.

I originally planned to go a couple of years ago.  Lack of snow canceled that trip for me.  I decided to have another go last year.  This time things were a lot better.  Oshkosh is about two and a half hours north of us if the traffic is flowing.  Since the fly in can start early, you either have to get going really early or stay locally.  If you can find a nice hotel not so far away that your wife likes that has a spa, you can all be happy!

I had been in touch with Jim Koepnik (until very recently, EAA’s chief photographer) to keep an eye on the developments in the days ahead of the event and Jim ended up being an excellent guide (provider of transport and a warm car to hang out in between aircraft) throughout the day.  (Good luck Jim with whatever comes next!)  We ended up having great weather and when wrapped up suitably felt little of the cold.  I got a bunch of shots and ended up writing a piece for Global Aviation Resource on the day.

This year the plans have been less effective.  Originally I intended to repeat what we did last year.  However, there had been no snow for ages and there didn’t appear to be any coming soon.  We decided to scrub the hotel.  I had been in touch with EAA Chapter 1414 about their group trip up and possibly putting cameras on their planes.  They offered a ride up.  Since I originally thought I would already be there, I had not intended to accept.  However, since the hotel cancellation, this became a good possibility if the event went ahead.

Now we have had snow!  A big storm came through Illinois and Wisconsin last week.  I’m not sure whether the conditions will be good by the time of the event or whether the weather will allow flying anyway.  However, we have a plan of sorts so now we just have to wait and see what comes next.  Fingers crossed.  In the mean time, here are the shots from last year.

Article In Progress

When you are first putting together a piece for a magazine, you don’t know exactly what sort of response you are going to get from the subject.  I am presently working on a piece about a manufacturer of business jets.  The magazine is getting well established so it should be a good amount of exposure for the company but you never know whether that is something they want or not.

When I contacted this company, I got a speedy response from their PR team which was great.  They provided responses to a series of questions I emailed to them but that is really only half of a story.  When writing questions, you think you have covered the main bases.  Then you get the responses and they trigger further questions.  In a face to face interview, this process also takes place but you get to deal with the back and forth immediately and the result should be a lot better as a result.

Consequently, with a little prodding, I managed to secure an interview with one of the board members of the company.  He arranged to meet me at one of their facilities that was conveniently located for me to get to.  When I got there, he immediately had to apologize that an aircraft closing was happening that morning and he couldn’t immediately be available.  This was really no big deal for me since I had made plenty of time available in case anything should mess up the schedule.  Selling aircraft is the business they are in so it isn’t hard to see that it should take preference over an interview.

In the mean time, one of the team was available to show me around the hangars.  I needed to get images of the aircraft in work to illustrate the piece and he was great at helping me get what I needed.  There were only two restrictions applied.  Registration numbers had to be obscured since customers owned the aircraft and some of the internal looms could not be shown.  This was fine by me and wasn’t going to limit the piece at all.

Aside from those rules, everything was made available.  Aircraft were powered up if I needed them.  Anything in the way or obscuring the shot was removed.  Gallery access was fine to get an overview of the hangars.  When I asked if anything was out on the ramp, I was told it wasn’t but if I wanted something, it would be put out there.  Fantastic cooperation and all provided with the friendliest attitudes.  Everyone I met in the hangar was very friendly.  They treated me the way they apparently treat visiting customers – shame I don’t have the cash to be a customer!

With the important things taken care of, it was possible to conduct the interview.  The person I was interviewing was very helpful and willing to discuss most things that I brought up.  One aspect of it was quite interesting from my point of view.  My idea of who I am is not necessarily the same as that of the interviewee.  I shall explain.  I am interested in the topic that I am writing about and I have a fair bit of experience in the subject so like to delve a little deeper into the subject.  I am interested in understanding but I am not trying to embarrass the company.  They will get a chance to review what we write to make sure we do not say anything untrue.

As far as they are concerned, I am a journalist who wants a story.  Will I try and make them look bad?  They don’t know.  The answers are all in line with the general message the company wants to portray.  This is perfectly reasonable.  However, it can mean that they are not going to give me the most frank answers to the questions or may avoid answering them altogether.  As we were talking, I found this a little odd.  It was only when I thought about it further afterwards that it made more sense.  They don’t know me, what my motives might be and they have a business to protect and promote.  I guess this is an example of my own inexperience in some aspects of this.

None of this should in anyway suggest that I wasn’t provided with the utmost cooperation.  The team were great and I hope they find the article both fair and interesting.  I wish them the best with their efforts and hope that we might get to work again some time.  Now to just get some images of the aircraft flying!