Trip to Alabama and a TVRVBG Meeting by Doug Reeves
Very little thought went into grammar or spelling here, so have a heart. No animals were hurt during composition.
Feb 21-22, 2002 found me in Birmingham, AL on business. I finished up around 4pm and headed north in my rental car for Decatur (about 75 miles away) where I had been invited by RV-6 builder/flier Sam Buchanan to attend their monthly builder's group meeting.
Robin Hunt's RV-8
Side note: One of the bands I'm listening to these days is from this area: the Drive By Truckers. Some of their song titles are Alabama specific, like: 72 (This Highway's Mean), Birmingham, and Wallace. If you like that three-guitar Lynyrd Skynyrd sound then this is your band. Might I suggest their recent Southern Rock Opera release. Remember, rock is best real loud!
Sam 'Wilson' Buchanan's RV-6
I enjoyed driving through the foothills of the Appalachians and soaking in the scenery. North Texas doesn't have hills - just malls and cellphone-distracted SUVs. This is a nice drive.
Once in Decatur Robin Hunt insisted I stay at his house instead of a hotel. Nice guy. I drove to Robin's work place (he's a CPA) and we headed out for dinner at Mr. Prime. There I got to meet several people that I've known through email for a few years but had yet to meet in person...Sam 'Wilson' Buchanan, Don Hull, and Bob Butler among others.
Bob Butler's RV-6A
After dinner we headed over to the Decatur airport so I could get peek at Robin, Sam and Bob's RVs. Bob's RV was one of the first in the area and is of pre-pre-punched vintage. For you newbies that means he drilled every hole in the plane. Bob is retired from NASA and worked on (among other things) the Saturn V rocket. Hearing him talk about the hold down nuts that keep the rockets on the pad until they're spooled up to full power hurt my noodle just trying to comprehend. To say the rivet work on his RV was well done is an understatement.
As for pictures, the tripod made a huge difference - note the runway lights and identifier sign off in the distance in Sam's picture. No flash, a steady tripod and auto-exposure makes for nice pictures.
TVRVBG Meeting at Randall Eckstein's shop
We then drove over to Randall Eckstein's shop for the builders meeting. There were around 30 or so people and LOTS of food. Randall is a very approachable person and can work metal like an artist. Everyone I met was so friendly....this hobby is full of people like this.
The next morning I drove to the nearby Marshall Space Flight Center. They weren't open for another hour or so, so I just took some pictures from the parking lot. There is an SR-71 outside the front door (my favorite non-RV plane)
Marshall Lawn Furniture: Shuttle mockup, SR-71, Saturn V
After driving back down to Birmingham to catch my flight back to Dallas I found I was a little early so I drove around. Saw some planes parked in a field near the airport - turned out to have an A-12 in it. The A-12 is the single seat precursor to the SR-71. It was initially designed as an interceptor. Great link: The CIA's story of the life and death of the A-12 program, The "Oxcart Story".
A-12 at Birmingham Airport
Really enjoyed meeting the TVRVBG gang. It's not always about the flying. Many times it's all about the people you meet, and I met some fine people. I'm looking forward to returning in my finished RV-6. I'll plan on staying at least one day at Marshall. Those rockets are, as our daughter says, wicked awesome.
- Tennessee Valley RV Builder's Group (TVRVBG) Web Site
- SR-71 Links: (site 1 / site 2 / site 3)
- Marshall Space Flight Center
- Sam Buchanan Wedding Photography
This page was was written in Microsoft Frontpage (love that auto-thumbnail feature), the pictures were processed using Corel v10, and the pictures were taken with an Epson PC3000 digital camera.