All of you almost assuredly know of the storm that tore through Lakeland and damaged or destroyed approximately 70 aircraft. But, let’s hit the high points before we get into the carnage, shall we?
Dave and Amy along with intrepid adventurer Jim Lawrence FINALLY made it to Plant City on Tuesday, March 29th at approximately 4:30 pm. Jim really deserves a perseverance award for sticking with us for the entire trip–he almost had to drop out to make other obligations but stayed with us to the end!
Upon arrival at Lakeland (by the way, there’s nothing like hearing the tower saying “Blue-and-white taildragger with the big tires . . . ” and wondering WHICH ONE?!?), the DCA crew quickly tied down the airplanes in our booth and then we were off to catch the Cub Convoy dinner. Amy had coordinated the Convoy and was disappointed when weather did not allow the Super 18s to participate in the arrival–but was pleasantly surprised to make it to the dinner at least. The Convoy crew thoroughly embarrassed her by delivering a standing ovation.
Dakota Cub was a proud sponsor of Cub Convoy 2011 and sponsored the tent rental for the dinner. A good time was had by all DCA team members!
After the socializing, hugs, and the obligatory comments of “You finally made it!” it was time to make camp . . . sort of. After 6 days of 5 am wake up calls and hours of waiting for the weather to clear, the DCA crew, especially Amy and Dave, were pretty exhausted. The plan became to put Dave in the camper with Mark and Keith and then have Amy set up camp or sleep in the truck for the night.
In case you haven’t noticed, intern Amy is a little on the wacky side, so she enthusiastically decided to sleep in the baggage compartment of 2300S. Apparently, it has been something she has been tempted to try for quite a while.
Wednesday reminded us that Sun ‘n’ Fun really did live up to its name. Amy did an interview with Sun ‘n’ Fun Radio about Cub Convoy 2011 and a friend Dave made at Lock Haven 2011 stopped by. Roger Peperell literally wrote the book on Pipers (titled “Piper Aircraft”) and rode along in 160AK when at Lock Haven. We were pleased to see him again!
Wednesday wrapped up with some rain, making us wonder if we had had our only glimpse of sun and fun. Despite the light rain, we transitioned 2300S to a drool-worthy set of new 31″ Alaskan Bushwheels.
Thursday brought clouds and thin crowds–but we got a visit from a security volunteer who had puppies (Amy was in love at the word “puppy”).
Of course, Thursday was the day the storm went through. As many of you know, we lost 2300S after the tie-downs broke. 160AK was damaged when 2300S’ tail hit 160AK’s side cowl and nose bowl. An account of that story was published in the May 2011 issue of Airplanista magazine (www.airplanista.com). We’ll excerpt that story later to keep this post shorter.
The rest of the week was spent recovering from Thursday, a process in which we were once again reminded just how fantastic our aviation family is. We were truly touched by the assistance from all of our longtime friends as well as some new ones. We closed out the week with our chins held stubbornly up, refusing to let the aftermath of the storm break us.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit us and we look forward to seeing you all at Oshkosh! We’ll be in booth #270 all week long.