It Ain't About The Flying
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...it's about the people you meet via RVation that make your life more rich. Probably just like you, I bought a tail kit and started building because I wanted an airplane. I wanted to fly. It's all about the flying, I kept telling myself. One of these days I'm gonna FLY any damn time I feel like it, and the days of rentals, of people messing the radios and seats and headsets and everything else all up are gonna be over for good. One of these days I'm gonna have my own dang airplane.
I'm now ten years into the hobby. I've had a flying plane for over five years, and I now know that it's not about flying at all - it's about the people you meet and folks you get to call friend.
I worked in the technology sector for 20+ years. Systems Analyst type work. I'd venture to say that 97 out of every 100 people that I met had roughly the same interests. The same background. The same house, car, wants and needs, etc. At lunch we'd talk about the same things. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad at all. I have dozens of friends that I consider close from those days, and I'm certain I'll keep in touch with them for the rest of my life. Having said that, there weren't too many conversations that just stopped me in my tracks. Conversations that literally made me stop internally and say, "THAT is freekin incredible!" Situations that stopped me cold and had me saying to myself, "Can you wrap your 64KB brain around what you are actually doing at this moment?"
Enter the world of RVation and the interesting demographics and career paths of its inhabitants. Most folks, I'd imagine, don't factor this into the 'should I build' equation, but they should. When you enter the RV community you are in for a quite a ride.
Through RVation I've been fortunate to meet the astronaut that commanded the first mission to the Moon (Frank Borman). Drove him around in a golf cart for an hour. Got a tour of his hangar house. Sat in his P-51. RV builder Red Marron set all this up. I got a phone call from Senator James Inholfe (R-OK) once at my day job when he was thinking about selling his RV ("Yes, I'll hold for the Senator" he says so the folks in the cubes around him will be sure to hear). He Googled RVs and found my classified section. I eat lunch with a guy every so often that played with Chuck Berry. I'm pretty good buds with a guy that flew a captured Russian MIG at Area 51 during the 70's. I've eaten breakfast and lunch with ocular surgeons, wine makers, intellectual property lawyers, bridge builders, professional musicians, etc. The list goes on and on and on and I have no idea how it happens. It just does....and the conversations are rarely dull. Some more:
- Meet Paul Rosales. When I was in CA on I.T. type business Paul gave me a tour of the Skunkworks (he took vacation time to do this!!!). (story)
- Meet Paul Dye. Paul invited me to come tour NASA, sit in the actual Flight Director chair and crawl all over a Shuttle procedural trainer. (story)
- Meet Larry Pardue. He met us at the caverns of Sonora and explained what we were seeing MUCH better than the tour guide. (story)
- Meet Rick Freeman. He went with us to tour the USS Lexington (CV-2) and got us into Pri-Fly at the very top of the island - where the public never goes. (story)
Okay, back to the story and its latest installment...you get the idea that the RV community is special.
Through RVation I met Ross (RV-6). Ross' sister is married to Bob Wishnie (he goes by 'Wish'). Wish is a cameraman for CBS Sports and was in town working the tower camera on the signature hole (17th) of the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson PGA golf tournament. Ross called me up a few days back and said, "Wanna go to the Byron Saturday and say hey to Wish with me and Delores? I got some passes."
Why not? The weather was 70*F, the clouds were high cirrus and the winds were light out of the north. Perfect Spring day. Susie and I arranged stuff for the kids and headed out to the TPS Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas on Saturday morning.
We arrived, ran the merchandising gauntlet that is at the entrance (No thank you, I don't want to sign up for a credit card and get a free shirt), then made our way back to the 17th green where Wish was working. Two minutes later we're past the ropes and crowds and snuggled in the tower camera treehouse between a quarter million dollar camera and another hundred thousand in monitors and assorted gear. Since it was still a few hours from live TV time, Wish gave us a rundown of the equipment and such, even letting me play with the camera a bit. "This is the focus, this is the zoom, this is where the graphics come in during the broadcast, when this red light is on I'm live to the world, listen in the phones here for awhile to the director and producer." Amazing. Great guy, great laugh, very personable and a disarming demeanor. The kinda guy everyone likes. He's worked the Super Bowl. He's shot everything over the years.
You can't bring cameras to a PGA event, so I didn't. Ross commented that I was probably wanting a picture of the VAF cap overlooking the hole, and I did affirm that. Wish had a camera in his backpack and was nice enough to photograph the cap and the view. I think it's legal if a CBS cameraman shoots you with his camera <g>. More on Wish later...
VansAirForce.net Cap Sighting at the '08 Byron Nelson Golf Tournament (17th hole - CBS camera tower)
Bob Wishnie photograph.
We said thanks, left the tower and planned to meet him around noon for lunch. He invited us to come over to the CBS crew area and have lunch on him (surprise #2).
Walked the course for a couple of hours looking at the pros, enjoying the sunshine, watching the pros CRUSH the ball off the tee in a way that would have my arms fly off my shoulders, marveling at the perfect grass, marveling at the numbers of high-heel wearing supermodels floating around hoping to find a 'dream husband'. Delores saw a pro throw his club to the ground. One nice place for watching a golf game. Every green and tee shot area have raised mounds of perfectly manicured grass surrounding them. Everyone has an incredible view.
Around noon we met Wish over at the CBS area, but before we got in line he gave us a tour of a tractor trailer full of TV equipment. The control booth, or something like that. I am not lying when I say there were 200 monitors on the far wall, a couple thousand knobs (with blinking lights). Director's chair was the biggest, and right in the center of the room.
Wish handed us a meal ticket and we ate like kings and queens. BBQ chicken, pasta bar, veggies, cobbler, ice cream and more. Just a tad better than the corny dog and DP from a vendor I had planned on. After lunch he introduced us to some of the CBS folks working the event, as they were standing nearby. You probably have heard of Jim Nantz and Peter Oosterhuis (beat Arnold Palmer twice in the Ryder Cup). Nice guys. I got to meet them because of RVation.
After that wonderful lunch we walked the course some more and promised to hook up with Wish again at 2pm, when they went live. By this time the leaders were on the back nine and the crowds were really starting to get thick around 16, 17 and 18. Once again we climbed up into the treehouse tower and enjoyed the golf view of a lifetime - the signature hole rimmed with people, the video feed from the blimp in the monitor next to use, sharing space with Wish and Peter Oosterhuis. At the top of the hour, with TV game faces on, Wish and company went to work. Susie and I were watching the monitor showing what was being seen on TV at that second, and up pops Jim Nantz on the screen to start the broadcast. "That's the guy from lunch", Susie says. Then the graphic goes up showing pictures of the coverage team - one of the three guys was sitting in a chair twenty four inches from me (Peter).
You could hear in the comm loop the director calling shots and fades and mixes and pushes, etc. He goes to 17 and the red light on Wish's camera goes red. No sudden movements. Don't shake the tower is what Ross said was rule #1. Five million eyeballs around the country are watching the view from the camera two feet from me and all I can focus on is, "Don't sneeze!!!"
"Can you wrap your 64KB brain around what you are actually doing at this moment?"
Another pair of pros step up to the tee at 17 and send a couple of Moonshots at us. Watching Wish zoom in on the players, then zoom out, FIND THE BALL in flight, focus on it, then pan out to perfectly frame the pin and ball on the green was magical. The muscle memory and skill involved was absolutely evident. He shrugged it off as no biggie, but I suspect it's harder than he makes it look.
So, here's how you know Wish. Of all the stuff he's done, you're probably most familiar with some work he did on hole 16 at the Masters in '05 (an article about the moment). Click on the video below...you'll remember.
Some Bob 'Wish' Wishnie
camera work you may be familiar with.
"IN YOUR LIFE have you seen anything like that?"....Verne Lundquist
Saturday was the first time Susie set foot on a golf course. Not a bad start...thanks to the RV community.
I can't stress enough how truly uninteresting a person I am (my wife and friends will second this). I can't write very well. My grammer and spellin stonks. I take marginal pictures. But, because for some reason I 'wanted to fly' back in '96 I ordered a tail kit. Now my life includes some truly interesting people and incredible memories. I had NO IDEA that with the purchase price of a tail kit came the opportunity to experience things and meet people that are 180* out of phase with flying, but are by their very nature fascinating. Like I said up top....this hobby ain't all about building and flying planes. Sometimes it's about golf.
The next time you see that footage of Tiger's chip on 16, remember that the cameraman who shot it is the brother-in-law of a RV-6 driver.
If you needed another reason to justify joining the RV community, this might help.
PS: Sunday during the final round Adam Scott and Ryan Moore went to sudden death. Tied on 18....moved to 17 (and back to Wish)....tie.....finally Scott made a monster putt for the win back on 18. I got a coupla three crummy shots with my pocket camera while watching the telecast which kind of show the location of the incredible seats we had for awhile.
Looking down 17 - camera tower marked with yellow arrow.
Adam Scott teeing off here in sudden death.
A little closer...tower visible just above crowd left of center.
The view from the camera tower on 17. Thanks again Wish!