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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Vettes for Veterans 2019

Yesterday we celebrated Veterans Day (and the 244th Birthday of the United States Marines) with the North Coast Corvette Club at their signature event of the year -- "Vettes for Veterans".  

 We attended the same event in 2017 and wanted to go again. This year we decided to take Nan's 56 and the Z06.  

Joining us as participants this year were Bill Connelly (Bill also entered with us in 2017) with his 1957 fuelie Corvette, and Bill Brandon with his spotless 50th Anniversary Corvette.

Friends who stopped by included Bill Hatch (you can never have too many Corvette friends named "Bill") and his wife Marylyn . . . 

. . . and Russell and Pam Sutton, Dan and Lisa Oskam, and Ron Lukasiewicz (sorry that Linda Lukasiewicz could not join us).

There were more than 200 Corvettes in the show, maybe as many as 230, and some amazing cars from all seven current generations.  First, Second, and Third place awards are given for each generation/category. Two years ago Nan came home with a 1st Place award, but this year we all came home empty-handed.  I personally felt that Bill's 1957 Corvette with the silver coves on the black exterior was among the very best of the C1 cars, even though a lot of first-generation entries showed up this year.  His car is so very well appointed and just stunning with period-correct tires, license plates, etc.  And when surveying the ocean of Corvettes, Nan's 56, the oldest Corvette in attendance, stood out so much that I felt it should have been a strong candidate for "Best in Show"!

After we got home we figured out why the judges had shunned the cars from Cary's Corvettes Club.  USC was playing an away game at Arizona State, and UCLA had a bye-week, so the PCA-12 Referees from LA came down to be the Judges of the cars.

Seriously, Congratulations to all the 2019 Winners!   Happy Birthday, United States Marines!

And thank you, current service men and women, and all veterans, for your service!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Cary's Corvette Continuity Challenge

I’m putting a challenge out to everyone in Corvette-Land!

I assert that my good friend and neighbor, Bill Hatch, holds the record for the longest continuous ownership of a single Corvette.

Bill purchased his new 1957 Corvette in July of 1957 and he still owns the car!  So he has owned the car for 62 years, plus.

The Challenge:  If anyone can identify someone who is a longer continuous owner of a specific Corvette, let’s hear it!  If Bill doesn’t hold the record, then we need to celebrate whoever does!

I have written about Bill in this blog as well as a story that appeared in The National Corvette Museum's "America's Sports Car".  Here are a few of my previous blog posts about Bill:

Bill's car is no trailer queen -- he DRIVES it!  His favorite place to drive was to the beach for playing volleyball with his buddies.  Here is a shot of me and Bill at Moonlight Beach in San Diego!

Once we had a 50th Birthday Party, not for Bill, but for the car!

OK, Corvette (and other) friends -- spread the word.  Let's find out who is the person who has owned a Corvette longer than anyone else?

You can email me at:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Monthly Burger Run #7

Warm temperatures and clear skies in mid-October greeted the seventh edition of our Monthly Burger Run today.

There were some great highlights today.

First was the reappearance of Bill Connelly's 1957 Corvette sporting an new GM Crate Engine -- the Ram Jet 350 Fuelie!!  Bill has owned the car for about 10 years and every time I see it something new and better has been done to it.  Bill's mechanic was able to install the engine perfectly giving Bill the classic look of first-generation Corvette but the reliability and (awesome) power of a 350+ HP engine with modern fuel-injection.  Every detail was perfect -- the engine mounting, the A/C adapter, flawless plumbing, and clean electrical work.  I've installed one of these engines in a C-1 and I can tell you first-hand that it isn't a simple job, and that Bill's installation is 1st rate!

Mike and Barbara Reeves brought their super-charged 2007 Ford Mustang GT 500.  Mike is the original owner and the car is both a beautiful example of the re-introduction of the Mustang super-car, but also shows the pride of being owned and DRIVEN regularly (like all of Mike's cars). 

We welcomed two newcomers today -- Gary Pandolfi (owner of a 1966 Mustang, but he was unable to bring it this time), and Ty Brown, who brought his 1981 Corvette.  Ty is the second owner, and he has cared for this completely original beauty since 2004.  It sports the 350 cu in engine with a three-speed automatic and four-barrel carburetor.

John Elder brought his beautiful 1961 Corvette -- looking good, John!

The modern era Corvettes included Jeff Smith's 2002 Coupe, our 50th Anniversary (2003) Corvette, and the 2018 Z06.

Our traditional group shot includes (left to right): John Elder, Mike and Barbara Reeves, Bill Connelly, Gary Pandolfi, Jan Paul, Ty Brown, Russ Stroika, Nan and Jeff Smith.

Thanks,everyone.  I hope to see everyone in the November at the Vettes for Veterans Car Show at the Shops at Carlsbad!

Flying the ICON A5

Regular readers of this BLOG will remember that in August I attended the "Quail" event in Monterey:

Although I saw dozens of $1+ million cars, the vehicle that got most of my interest was the ICON A5 amphibious aircraft.

As I was walking the grounds of the Quail, I rounded a corner, that there it was!

In recent years I've had the chance to explore "Light Sport" aircraft, and to fly a few of them.  The ICON always held an interest for me because if its "pusher" configuration (reminiscent of my Varieze), composite construction, and ability to operate from land or sea.

I had seen the ICON on the Internet, but this was the first time I had seen it in person.  Oh gosh, it was so cool!  Their website generates interest in the many capabilities of the aircraft; click the link below for a fascinating demonstration of this amazing airplane:

Noah Collins greeted me at The Quail and pointed out the highlights of the ICON A5.  Everything about it was cool.  We talked about its similarities to the Varieze, making me want to go for a ride.  When I asked if there were any models based in San Diego, Noah told me that I could see one at the Montgomery Airport.

As soon as I returned from Monterey I began exploring a demonstration flight with Noah.  Noah was graciously accommodating.  It was my luck that we coordinated a day that offered clear skies and calm winds.  Nan drove me in the Z06 to the airport where we rendezvoused with Noah.  I was completely confident in flying with Noah in a new airplane -- he is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and was a Naval Aviator for more than 9 years.  Noah has "the right stuff"!

After pre-flighting the plane, Noah let me fly left seat with him in the right. The controls were the reverse of the Varieze -- stick in the left hand and throttle in the right.  But everything else was modern and easy to master.  The Rotax 912 engine smoothly spun the three-blade propeller, and the cabin was quiet with the engine mounted behind the high-wing.  Ground maneuvers were also the same as the Varieze with differential braking to control the castering nose wheel.

The tour Noah laid out for me included a takeoff to the west, a turn to the south at the coastline, flying under the departing airliners at Lindbergh Field, around the Point Loma Lighthouse then into San Diego Bay for a water landing.   

The takeoff was smooth with rotation coming at about 60 MPH.  The front landing gear retracts quickly and the warning light is intuitive and easy to see.  The controls were light and effortless as I climbed out toward the coastline, getting a feel for the plane.  The full canopy made it easy to look for and identify traffic.  Noah handled the communications while guiding me through heading and altitude changes.  

We got a clearance to fly under the Lindbergh departing aircraft and cruised down the San Diego coast between 500 and 1,000 feet.  

The instrumentation on the ICON is different than the traditional "six round gauges" of older aircraft, but I was able to adjust to the layout quickly and was surprised at how much I liked the change.  The moving map was great -- how I wish I had one of them back in my Varieze days.

Soon we had navigated our way down to the San Diego Bay, a place we have visited with our neighbors, Carl and Jean, in their boat.  Noah coached me on setting up for a water landing, clearing the area, and heading into the wind.  We promised each other that we would guarantee that the landing gear was *NOT* down (as in a normal landing) -- one of the very few things you can do to screw up a water landing!  Noah made the first landing.  What a thrill!  as soon as the plane slowed in the Bay, Noah popped the canopy as the two of us just marveled at the fun and utility of the ICON.

Here is my video of us floating with the canopy open!

Noah let me take off and do a "splash and go" and then we returned to Montgomery field.

How would I describe the ICON aircraft and the flying experience?  Looks that can compare with the coolest sports cars. A flying platform that is intuitive and should be a very easy transition for pilots of any level of expertise. Even without landing on the water, it is fun to fly, and the water capability is just over-the-top.  I loved the experience so much that I've been telling all my pilot (and non-pilot) friends all about it.

Thanks, Noah, for one of the best days ever!

And I have learned that Jay Leno heard about my flight, which inspired him to take a flight too (which you can see on "Jay's Garage")!

If anyone wants to talk with Noah about the ICON A5, just let me know and I'll introduce you!