A Grand Day Out

Last Sunday was our anniversary. Five years if you want to know. For once we had no obligations or chores to do, so we just hopped in the car and took off. our best daytrips have always been when we didn’t have a fixed plan and so it was in this case. We headed in the general direction of the Brandywine region, which is a little to the southwest of Philadelphia, where the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware all meet up. On the way up, we took the back roads and stopped for brunch at a small diner – excellent food and dirt cheap. We left a large tip (yes, i have lived in the US long enough now that i know about tipping!!)

After crossing the Conowingo dam and entering Pennsylvania, Diane spotted a sign that said “Airshow”. Remembering that we actually didn’t have a plan for the day, she proceeded to veer off the road and headed in that direction. Note that I say that it was her who made the decision to go for this, not me. It turns out that it was a small local airshow, probabaly 500-1000 people max there. However, being small, it was not crowded and a whole lot more fun. You could get right up and close to the aircraft, and even get in some of them. There was a mixture of warbirds (B 25 Mitchell, Gruman Avenger, T6 Harvards and a P51 Mustang), some stunt planes (including one who landed his aircraft on top of a pickup truck), some civil aircraft, and some large scale models. All took turns to fly and the skill level was high. For me, the most memorable part was the Mustang opening his display with a fast low pass through a stand of trees at about 150 feet. The later versions of the mustang are powered by Packard Merlin’s, a licence built version of the Rolls Royce Merlin that powered such legendary British aircraft as the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster bomber. Growing up near Chichester airfield, which has it’s compliment of spitfires, I am quite familiar with the distinct growl of the V-12 Merlin Engine with it’s high pitched supercharger scream. It was nice to hear one again now that I live in the States.

I wasn’t able to get particularly good photo’s of aircraft in flight, as I only had a small point and shoot with me, and it didn’t take kindly to fast moving objects in the sky.However, below are a selection of photo’s that I was able to get.


Diane checks out a possible replacement for her Prius!


This is a model of an A-10 – powered by 2 miniature jet engines running at 160000rpm – flies at up to 200 mph. The pilot put on a good display.


The A-10 Model in it’s hanger……


With an equally big model P-47!


Outside, the stunt pilots were getting ready.


Yes, this guy did just land on top of a pick up truck – some pretty nifty flying!




The star of the show in my eyes was this Mustang – great aircraft and highly skilled pilot flying the display. Apparently his day job is flying MD-80’s for a regular scheduled airline. I hope he doesn’t fly like this on the day job!




And Landing


B25 Mitchell on display


With a Grumman Avenger (I think). Both flew later in the day. For a single engine plane, the Avenger is enormous – makes you wonder how it got off an aircraft carrier!


Civilian Lockheed Electra – Diane liked this one because it was shiny!


Army Air Force trainer


Mitchell being towed out to tje flight line by an SUV



Mitchell taxing out to the take off point.


Followed by The Avenger.


Mitchell in flight




Along with the Avenger



And Finally, the Mustang coming in to land


All in all, for a small local show, it was well worth it.

Afterwards, we kept going and ended up in Wilmington, DE. It’s like any small city, but has a very nice park and walk along the Brandywine river, so we had a pleasant stroll for a few hours. And finally, on the way home, we stopped for diner again at another small restaurant, which had the biggest cheesecake I’ve ever seen!

All in all, a very pleasant day and we retired to bed tired, but happy.


Libby Gets her revenge!

Note to the idiot in the Porsche who thought it would be fun to tailgate me last night. Trying to intimidate a large, slow, agricultural vehicle isn’t smart!

Libby needed a run to stretch her wheels. She hadn’t been used much for the past few weeks and like most seniors, needs to move occasionally to ensure she remains flexible and mobile. For those who don’t know, Libby is my old Series 3 Land Rover. (All Land-Rovers have names, don’t ask me why). Anyhow, although a late build vehicle and in reasonable condition, she’s still well over 30 years old and has all the quirks of a design that essentially dates back to the late 50’s, i.e. slow, heavy, mediocre braking at best and a turning circle rivaling that of the Queen Mary. Plus a few individual specific quirks, including one that manifested itself on this occasion. Because you are driving a vehicle essentially dating from the 50’s, the driving style is very different from that of modern vehicles and one travels at a more sedate and unhurried pace.

So, last night, it was a beautiful evening and having gotten out of work reasonably early, I trundled off to the local Lowes DIY store (the equivalent to B&Q or Homebase for those of you in the UK) about 8 miles away to get some mulch for the flowerbeds that I’m clearing and re-doing. I duly loaded up with about 20 bags of mulch and some planks to form the borders, and headed for home.

Now we live in the sticks, a little north of Baltimore. Think Herefordshire / Shropshire / Welsh borders and you get the idea. We don’t usually encounter sheep in the middle of the road, but there is an abundance of deer and they are just as stupid/dangerous. Especially at night and in the early evening. A deer strike is something to be avoided – at best it will severely damage your car and often is a lot worse. The roads round here are in the most part narrow and twisty and you can’t go very fast. The scenery is picturesque and we get a lot of people coming out from the city to drive or cycle along the lanes and get their fill of nature. Most are very pleasant and considerate, but occasionally you get one who thinks that they are a racing car driver and that the roads are part of a motor-cross rally circuit. Last night, was my time to encounter one such idiot.

So there I was, loaded up in the back with 20 bags of mulch and headed home. With all the weight in the back, Libby was definitely down at the rear and a bit slower than usual whilst chugging up the hill towards home. It was a pleasant sunny evening and there I was trundling along with my elbow on the window ledge and breathing in the smell of cows. It was at this point that a Porsche came tearing up behind me and the fun began. He came screaming up behind me at high speed, revving away furiously, flashing his lights, honking his horn, dropping back and running up close to me again. He was coming so close that his front lights were hidden from me in the rear view mirror by the tailgate. I could however see that he was one of these “hip” guys in his mid to late 50’s with slicked back hair and the obligatory much younger (dumb?) blonde in the passenger seat. Both of them were laughing and obviously thought this behavior was hilarious. I thought it was bloody dangerous. This road is narrow, twisty, going up-hill, has high banks on either side and is marked at 30mph maximum speed (and we were already doing a little over, which is not bad on that road in a Landy!!). There was nowhere for me to pull off and I knew that this area was well populated with deer, as well as being popular with cyclists who often come out on fine evenings. So we were stuck with this situation whereby I had this pratt dancing all around behind me and I couldn’t get rid of him. This went on for a while, during which I got a little fed up of this. But then we encountered a steeper stretch of road and Libby’s individuality came to the fore.

Libby is diesel powered. As a result, she gets reasonable mileage, is good for hauling bulky loads, but is no speed demon. Being a 30+ year old original engine, the engine valve seals are not as good as they once were (note to self – job for next winter). Now, normally I try to be very considerate of others around me and wouldn’t normally do this, but by this stage I was getting a little hacked off with this silly game. As the road steepened, still with the idiot in his Porsche inches behind me, I floored it. As expected, this did not increase the speed one iota. Also, as expected, Libby took exception to the sudden fuel rich diet and belched. A great big oily-sooty belch. For a few seconds, I proceeded to lay down a grey-black smokescreen emanating inches from the front of the Porsche that would make any WW II destroyer captain proud. It only needed a few seconds – as I got to the top of the hill and eased off the throttle, that Porsche was about 200 yards behind me!

Oh, did I mention the Porsche was a convertible?

We had a very sedate trip the rest of the way home. I will so miss this ability when I regrind the inlet and exhaust valves this winter.