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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rick Davis wins Golden Wrench Award
Last night we were at the Cactus Moon discussing airspace and X-15 LOX tank pressure warnings when Bud Granley reached into his goodie bag and pulled out a piece of wood.  After an appropriate speech, Bud showed us what it was, the coveted North West Council of Airshows Golden Wrench Award and presented it to good friend Rick Davis. 
The Golden Wrench goes to the guy (or gal) NWCAS members recognize as being the year's top mechanic.  Not only is Rick a pretty fair country hand with a wrench, he's also one of the most helpful around, and can always be counted on to pitch in whenever needed to keep airshow airplanes and pilots flying. The Golden Wrench is dedicated to recognizing the cream of those hard working folks who keep things running smoothly and seldom get any credit.  The show must go on!
Rick has been working with Bud and Ross Granley, Kent Pietsch and others for a long time, always has a great attitude, is lots of fun to be around, and is always ready to help.  Bud had tried to lure him to the NWCAS awards banquet, but Rick begged off, so Bud had to make the presentation in a slightly less formal setting.
Congratulations Rick!
10:41 am pst

Russian Thunder!
You may have noticed the new RCGroups banner here on the WBA home page.  Lots of pilots fly models, too, or have at some time, including me.  RCGroups.com is the world's largest forum for all kinds of things about RC models.  And the proprietor of RCGroups is Jim Bourke.
I met Jim a few months ago when he came by to chat about Yaks.  He was looking to buy an airplane and was learning what he could before making the plunge--good idea.  A while later he called and asked if I'd be interested in going down to Tucson, AZ, to look at the only Yak-54 in North America, the airplane that had been owned and flown by air show veteran Eric Beard.  Eric had named the airplane and his show "Russian Thunder!"  In case you notice something about the paint, Eric was a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.  He was killed in an unfortunate accident near here a couple of years ago and his widow, Diane, had the airplane up for sale.  It was at Phil Parrish's place in Tucson.  Phil is one of those poor guys who lives at a private airport and has a hangar next to his house.
So we went to Tucson, met with Phil and Diane and looked at the airplane.  I had met Eric and talked with him a few times, but didn't know him well and had never had a chance to really inspect his airplane.  Although Yak-54's are roughly two-seat versions of the single-seat Yak-55, they are really quite different.  We didn't have a lot of time to really dig into it and that really wasn't what we were there for, but the airplane looked good. Jim and Phil flew it and we had a pleasant evening talking to Phil and Diane.  Later, Jim and I stopped in at a local watering hole (its pretty dry in Tucson) and talked about it.  He wasn't sure whether he was interested or not.  I went to bed thinking, nope, he's gonna pass her by.  Besides, someone else had already made an offer.
Next morning I was eating some "continental breakfast" when Jim walked in, sat down and said he'd decided to buy the airplane.  I like a guy who can make up his mind.  He made Diane an offer she couldn't refuse and became a proud new airplane owner!
Now he's got her home in Oregon and is working on getting her trimmed out and ready for the flying season.  Jim has been around aviation all his life, but is a relatively low time guy.  In fact, his insurance company wouldn't let him fly the airplane until he got some appropriate training and a little more experience.  I'm really impressed by his determination.  In the short time since buying the airplane he's gotten his instrument rating, tailwheel endorsement and has completed an aerobatic course with Rich Stowell.  Next he's going to get a little more aerobatic experience flying with Renny Price in Renny's Sukhoi, a close approximation to the Yak-54.
Take a look at RCGroups.com for more info about Jim's adventures, in particular take a look at his blog.  Good luck Jim!
10:09 am pst

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18228 59th Dr. NE, Arlington, WA, 98223 USA
Arlington Municipal Airport (KAWO)
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phone 425-876-0865