Tag Archives: flying

Fly-In/Drive-In Breakfast at Marion Airport

Helicopter Ride 1

Every year for the 4th of July, Cedar Rapids puts on this huge festival to celebrate. It starts up in mid-June and goes through the 4th. For the past several years, Ariesna and I have bought buttons for the festival1 but have missed most of the festival. Given that we live in Cedar Rapids now, we’ve been making an effort to actually attend some of the events. This morning we got up at 7 AM2, hopped into the car and drove out to the Marion Airport. The airport was hosting a Fly-In/Drive-In breakfast, offering airplane/helicopter rides and had numerous planes for spectators to look at. Ariesna & I decided to go for a helicopter ride which was … quite the experience. First off, here’s a few rules/tips for any other first-time flyers to keep in mind when going to one of these sort of things:

  • Wear blue jeans or at least some kind of pants. Standing near the landing area for the helicopter gets rather chilly with the chop from the spinning blades.
  • Tuck your shirt in so it doesn’t blow up around you.
  • Wear shoes, not sandals. Makes it easier walking through the grass over to where the helicopter was landing/taking off.
  • Leave your hat in the car. The chop from the helicopter is strong enough to blow it off your head.
  • Leave your purse/bag in the car. There’s very limited space in a helicopter, and you don’t want it to:
    • bonk the controls with a heavy bag while the pilot is trying to do his thing.
    • watch your purse/bag go sliding out the helicopter to fall way, way, way down to the ground.

Just a few thoughts you should consider. Anyway, back to the story. Ariesna was feeling very nervous about the flight while we were waiting in line but doing her best to stay calm. Then when we were 3rd in line, the people in front of us asked to switch places with us as there were only 2 helicopters in service for the rides and they wanted to chat with the pilot of the one we would have ridden on. We immediately took them up on their offer and then had a pleasant chat with them while they waited. It turned out they’ve been coming to this Fly-In/Drive-In for the past 3 years and look forward to flying with one particular pilot every year. They also reassured Ariesna about the flight and got her calmed down nicely. Then before we knew it, it was our turn. The helicopter had room for 3 pilot (1 pilot & 2 passengers). Ariesna climbed into the center of the aircraft while I got the “window seat”. I put that in quotes because the side of the helicopter was totally open. No windows, no doors just a big, big hole you climbed in/out of3. Once we were strapped in and put on our headphones, I realized I had something of a problem. Either the cord on my headphones was very short, caught on something or I was sitting on it but I had no leeway with it. I couldn’t sit up or even really hunch over while wearing the headphones. I ended up, slightly hunched with the headphones partly askew. The lift-off made me think of a bumpy roller coaster and then we were in the air over a corn field. It was also around that time I realized I was definitely going to have problems with this ride. See, I tend to get vertigo but only in a certain range of heights. Under roughly 10-12 feet and flying in an airplane up above the clouds, I’m fine. However for certain distances between there, heights can give me the willies. I tend to think of it as the range between small hurts and certain death. The helicopter flew at just the perfect height to trigger my feelings of vertigo. Wheeee! Now add in the lack of a door on the helicopter, being strapped in with a single lap belt and my side of the aircraft being the one which dropped down on every turn; and you’ll understand why I only took 2 photos during our flight. Spending the rest of it with one hand clamped to the side of the helicopter and the other locked onto my wife’s hand. Naturally, she thought this was hilarous once we landed.

*sigh* No respect, no respect at all.

Then we walked around looking at the planes setup for show, snapping a couple of pics4. When I later review the pics, it turned out most were over-exposed, so I’ll have to edit them in GIMP before posting the rest. Finally, we decided to get some breakfast. Only the line at the airport’s breakfast was long and the food looked unappealing. So we drove off to Village Inn, had an entirely too big of a breakfast complete with coffee and pie. Mmmm, pie. Good times, good times.

1 The buttons get you into some events for free or at a reduced rate.
2 *ugh* On the weekend, we strongly prefer to lounge about till late in the morning.
3 There were obvious mounting points for a door, so I’m guessing they removed the door to make it easier to get people in/out for these rides.
4 Which I have posted to a Fly-In/Drive-In set on my Flickr account.



As my long time readers might recall, I watched a show called Firefly a while back and greatly enjoyed it. This week, thanks to one of my co-workers, I had an opporunity to drive 5 & 1/2 hours to plant my butt in a packed movie theater at 10 o’clock with a broken air conditioner. That is to say, I was able to attend a special preview showing of the Firefly movie, Serenity. Though the movie hasn’t quite been completed yet; it was fanatastic!

It started off with a short speech by Joss Whedon. He basically thanks the fans for their support and asked them to continue that support by asking them to help promote the movie. Then the movie was off and running. It appears to pick up at least a couple of years after the t.v. show ended1. Not all of the crew is still flying on Serenity though most are. The Alliance is still after River and they seem more desperate than ever to get her back. Desperate to the point where they’ve sent an unamed agent after her. During this agent’s introduction, we get treated to see a holographic recording of Simon rescuing River from the facility where they were experimenting on her; as well as finding out one of the reasons the Alliance wants her back so badly.2 Overall, I thought the story worked very well for fans of Firefly but I’m not sure how well it will play with people who never watched the tv show. The movie doesn’t have any big-name actors and it hasn’t been getting much in the way of promotion from the studio. I hope it does well at the box office (mostly in hopes of the tv show being revived).

Closing thougts about the preview:3

  • The preview didn’t have much in the way of music. This really bothered some people and it is one of the things that they’re still working on.
  • There weren’t any credits; again this is something they’re working on.
  • Supposedly there were some placeholders for special effects that aren’t complete yet, but I didn’t catch them.

1 Supposedly there is a comic book coming out in July (?) that covers what happens between the show & the movie.
2 I bet you’d like it if I told you why, wouldn’t you?. Too bad, this preview-review is going to be spoiler free. :p
3 Sorry, but 11 hours of driving in 2 days plus watching the movie at 10 o’clock, staring straight up at the screen from the front row, doesn’t exactly leave me pumped up for writing an indepth review. Maybe I’ll have something more to say after the official opening on 30 Sept 2005.

Online Games

I know I’ve not posted in a while; I just haven’t felt like it and life’s been kind of tiring. Even this keeps up, I probably won’t be posting for a bit again but here are a couple of online games to keep you amused in the meantime:

In this Chess game, –which requires Java– the computer will draw lines indicating all the possible moves before it makes it play. It’s cool to watch, though I didn’t play with it long enough to decide if it’s a good player. Then again, I’m lousy at chess; so I’m not the best judge of how good a player this thing is.

Nanaca Crash!: Main site, Mirror
This is an odd, Flash-based game. You’re playing a girl on a bicycle who runs into a guy and sends him flying down the road. You want to send him flying as far as you can and along the way are various other people. Some will help you send him farther, some will slow him down. It’s strange, violent and crazily addicting.

Low Flying Cameras

…. these folks over at the RC Groups forums who have been rigging up small digital cameras to their R/C airplanes and getting some fantastic low-altitude aerial pictures. The trick is to find cameras that are light enough not …. 2005 Calendar Entries [RCGroups]

Kudos to Gizmodo for the link!

My favorite entry is a toss up between RoadKill’s shot of Montfort, Wisconsin or edthedoc’s shot of Oxford University, England, UK.

Review: Steaming pile of poo

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go and see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Wow was that ever a mistake!

I went in knowing that most of the reviewers out there had said it was bad and about half of the geeks were saying the same1. However the trailers for the movie looked just gorgeous with an impressive style that felt very much like one would expect a 1940’s pulp sci-fi movie to look2, from the giant robots to the cars down to the ray pistol. The one interesting thing about the movie that one should remember is that the entire thing was shot in front of a green screen and there were no locations. All the background stuff was computer-rendered. Then it appears that they pushed the film of the actors through some filters to add a bit of noise & distortion into the film, giving a feeling of being from the 40’s. These computerized specials effects were unfortunately the only good thing about the movie. The writing of the movie was wretched. The acting was sub-par at best. If you wish to know more details, following the (more) link but be warned that there are some spoilers mixed in there.
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