Cleveland – March 2019 – People, Art & Machines

Mid March means it is time for the Piston Powered Show at the IX Center in Cleveland. As the name indicates this show features all things with a piston: Cars, Motorcycles, Trucks, an Airplane, Tanks, Snowmobiles, and even a Steam Shovel – plus a few things without pistons.

Most of the cars are ‘by invitation’, which means they are the best of the best. To make it to be one of the best in a custom car show you must have good graphics – and this show has that. It also has a great collection of people who have as much character as the vehicles – all filling the million square foot (93,000 square meters) building.

As you enter the vast hall you are immediately greeted with some really nice restorations.

As noted previously, many had customized paint jobs including this mid 1960s Chevy El Camino hood.

A number incorporated famous graphics, like Speedy Gonzalez.

This customized Willy’s sedan had a matching mannequin.

The participants came from numerous states in a 500 mile radius of Cleveland, including this great paint job from Kentucky.

For some the audience made a good match for the car.

A Zombie car – because why not.

The Zombie car’s door art.

Most of the motorcycles were customized Harley’s, many containing skulls.

Some craftsmen were displaying their skills – he was cutting leather.

This car was a repeat from a couple of years ago that was my posting’s feature photo – still one of the very best custom designs I have ever seen.

An aptly named 1957 Chevy.

A group of local technical high schools were having a competition to tear down and rebuild an engine in less than 30 minutes. Not sure why these guys were wearing helmets though.

While most of the custom bikes were Harley’s this great sport bike paint job features a customization of the ‘Guardians of Transportation’ sculptures on a large Cleveland bridge. Ironically I was wearing my ‘Dia de la Muertos (Day of the Dead)’ T shirt that featured the same sculpture in a skeleton look, so I fit in with the theme on all the bikes.

There was a classic wooden boat display as well. The boats themselves are works of art!

As is this sweet 1948 Buick Convertible.

Even a plain old 1960s Ford Station Wagon can be made to look great.

There were a couple of internet radio stations present – this one is a community station that, among other things, featuring racing.

I am not positive what it is, but I am certain it is NOT a Prius.

Mixing classic art and hot rods.

Many had names.

Most had pistons, but not this turbine jet car.

Some cars like the ‘rat rod’ rusty, beat up look – some like the pristine restoration. This Paddy Wagon was somewhere in between, but still cool.

Also featured were a number of artists showing how they make the great graphics we saw on all the vehicles.

All obviously have very steady hands.

The detail is amazing.

His shirt says it all.

It is amazing on the metal how little paint it took to go a long ways.

This guy had great pedal cars.

Not sure how a bowling pin got into a car show – but hey it is Cleveland.

Ready for St Patricks Day.

The emcee, and auctioneer, had character. She was auctioning off the finished pieces for charity.

Once again the Piston Powered Show was a great way to spend a day inside checking out a great collection of vehicles, people and art.

Dayton – December 2018 – Cool and Quirky Airplanes

With family in town that has a strong interest in aviation, a day long visit to the Air Force Museum in Dayton was called for. For this visit I focused on the cool and quirky aircraft (and spacecraft).

We start with the horizontal stabilizer of Douglas VC-54C Skymaster with the name of ‘Sacred Cow’. It was the first presidential plane, serving FDR.

The Lockheed VC-140B JetStar was the first business jet produced in quantity for the civilian market.

Because of it’s smaller size it was sometimes referred to as Air Force One Half.

A view from the outside of the cockpit of the Independence.

Another look at the Sacred Cow. While it was state of the art, from this angle it looks like there were 100 pieces of aluminum cobbled together.

Not alien, just not useful.

Early Stealth – the Northrup Tacit Blue. While it was stealthy, it apparently was aerodynamically unstable.

Much of the day was spent checking out the quirky noses on many of the planes.

North American X-15A-2. One bad airplane – Built to fly high and fast it made 199 flights starting in 1959, and it speeds of 4520 MPH!

It was the world’s first piloted aircraft to reach hypersonic speeds, and allow the pilots to earn astronaut wings flying as high as 67 miles above the earth.

But then – they made spacecraft! A Gemini and Apollo.

Back to the quirky noses.

We always go through the museum ‘backwards’ – going straight to Hangar 4 for the Presidential aircraft and working our way to the front for the early flight.

Nothing better than a piston engine aircraft.

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 15 – Best 30 Minute Flight in the World

We left the ship in the morning and spent a bit of time in the town of Kaunakakai at a farmers market, while we waiting for our flight’s scheduled time.




Eventually it was time to go – in our 9 passenger Mokulele Airlines flight to Maui. As we boarded the plane I asked the pilot if we were taking the north route to Maui, and with a smile she said ‘yes’!




We took off over the only flat land on Molokai.




The north route takes you over the famed Sea Cliffs. Known as the highest sea cliffs in the world, some are over 4000′ high. Now you know why the pilot was smiling.




A family owned airline, they are known for their island hopping routes.




The best views in the world out the windows of our little 9 passenger plane on a regularly scheduled route..




One of the saddest policies in Hawaiian history was the sequestering of leprosy patients. One of the most famous of these is on Molokai, where over a 100 year period over 8,000 people were sent to spend the rest of their lives in isolation.

Today it is a National Historic Park accessible only by mules down the 1,600′ high cliffs, or by plane.




More of the steep valleys along Molokai’s north shore.










There are numerous waterfalls coming off of the cliffs.




Two of the 8 highest waterfalls in the world are along these cliffs. I ‘think’ we are looking at Olo’upena Falls and ‘Pu’uka’oku Falls, both nearly 3000’ high.




Amazing cliffs and waterfalls.




Our last view of Molokai was of the Halawa Valley, where we spent the day before with Pops and his family learning of Hawaiian culture.




After crossing the 20 mile channel we were over Maui,




While rugged, the mountains are not as abrupt as Molokai. They do however have a great little road running through them (more on that tomorrow).




More canyons as we approach the airport.




Maui is basically one massive mountain on east end, with other tall mountains on the west end, with a flat valley in the middle. All of a sudden it looks like Southern California!




The water in the ocean just off shore had great color though.




Making a couple of quick turns to land and we were in Maui. What a spectacular flight!

The traffic and congestion will quickly make you wish you were back in Molokai.




We did make a quick trip up to Iao Valley before the sun set though.




The ‘needle’, a 1200′ high (from the valley floor). It is really a ridge, as it continues beyond sight.




As we walked to dinner along the coast we saw this great turtle hanging out in the lava rocks.





Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.




Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.




This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.




We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.




Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.




Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.




Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.





Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.




On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.




But it did lead to another great coastal view.




Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.




The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.




About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.




At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.




There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.




The falls in located near the town of Honomu.




Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.




Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).




Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.




Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.




Along with some sculptures.




I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.




The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.






Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.






Chillin’ on Coconut Island.







Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.




As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.




Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.




With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.






Columbus – September 2018 – Flying Into Town

On my return from New York I was on a very empty airplane, and happened to have the SLR camera with me. Once we can out of the clouds on the approach to Columbus I was able to get some photos.

About 50 miles east of the airport is Zanesville, Ohio. While very tough to see they have a famous ‘Y’ Bridge. This bridge has a Y intersection in the middle of it (and the river).

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Buckeye Lake – The surrounding countryside would normally be as green as the trees but since it is late September the corn and soybeans have all turned brown, hence the interesting contrast.

As a city kid I always thought that meant they were dead, it really means it is time to pick them.

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Note the 5 large white buildings. A few of them are Amazon fulfillment centers along I-70.

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When you see the airport you are headed towards at this altitude you know you aren’t quite ready to land – which was good this day.

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Northwest Columbus and Ohio State University.

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A bit closer view of Ohio State, along with the Ohio 315 Freeway winding it’s way along the west side of campus.

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A hard right turn gave us a great view of the old suburb of Grandview Heights.

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Looking east back towards the airport (upper right) and downtown Columbus. Of note is the different of the main thoroughfares from the early days and now. Broad Street goes the entire distance top to bottom on the right side of the photo in essentially a straight line.

I-679 on the left side winds its way basically parallel to Broad Street, only with numerous curves since they were going through already developed neighborhoods (destroying many in it’s path).

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Downtown Columbus. After a week in New York City it looks very sparse.

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Continue the hard right turn we looked straight down on the Lane Avenue Bridge and a portion of Ohio Stadium.

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The final view is of Ohio Stadium. There was something about the double windows of the airplane and the SLR wanting to focus that makes this photo almost look ‘fake’.

A few minutes later and we were on the ground.

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Dayton – September 2018 – World War I Centennial Anniversary

With 1918 being the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the USAF Museum in Dayton held a commemoration in the form of a period correct air show.

While this air show occurs annually, the 100th anniversary brought special meaning to it.


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Many of the participants dressed in period clothing.

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Most of the aircraft present were in flying condition, although some are recreations and not original, 100 year old planes.

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Wright Patterson Air Force Base is huge, and could easily support the air show on a distant runway of the base.

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As with other events, the re-enactors added to the scene.

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Women were an essential part of the war effort as well, as represented by this Red Cross worker.

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Not really sure why so many of the men had on kilts though.

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A field hospital doctor with period medical pieces.

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There was constant flights occurring – these are actual model aircraft flying while the full size ones took a break.

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While they had nice paved runways, the period aircraft used the grass areas between the pavement for their movements.

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Ready to go…

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The Air Force base buildings also added to the atmosphere.

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Usually the skies over Dayton are filled with screaming jets, but on this day the sounds were very different with the piston engines taking flight.

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The building in the background house some of the museum’s 350+ aircraft.

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While there were no female pilots in World War I, this pilot was flying today.

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More of the aircraft ready to go.

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In addition, a number of aircraft were parked as static displays. The wooden propellers have a classic look to them.

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No ground crew needed, just pick up the tail of your plane and move it onto the runway.

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A number of the re-enactors were dressed as Germans.

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The leader of the Remote Control plane show was looking snazzy.

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More kilts?

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Time to fly…

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The models were very accurate in their representation.

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The Remote Control plane collection was quite large.

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In addition there were period automobiles. During the break from the full size aircraft, the automobiles took to the runways for a spin.

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Sometimes being chased by the model aircraft.

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A period ambulance.

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As with all things at the USAF Museum, the entire event was free to the public.

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Time to stop and move on to the next event.

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Cincinnati – August 2018 – 1940s Day at Lunken Airport

Lunken Airport is located in a valley on the east side of Cincinnati where the Miami River flows into the Ohio River. Because it is in a valley that has a tendency to flood it is known as ‘Sunken Lunken’.

In the early days of aviation it was the airport for Cincinnati, but in the late 1940s they moved to a much larger site across the river in Northern Kentucky.


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Lunken still is a very busy airport, serving corporate jets and other smaller private planes, while maintaining it’s classic art deco look.

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On this day the Cincinnati Museum group was hosting ‘1940s Day at Lunken’. Among the events was a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ photo shoot.

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Amazingly a couple of elderly women were on hand actually were ‘Rosies’ during the 1940s.

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People were encouraged to dress the era, and many did.

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The festival hosting a number of vintage airplanes and cars, and those that came in costume fit in perfect with the equipment.

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Either she is a spy or one of the museum workers.

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A Carmen Miranda look, minus the fruit.

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We saw a couple of ladies dressed in their ‘League of Their Own’ uniforms – a great touch.

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There was entertainment all day. The ‘Queen City Sisters’ acapella group were great singers, with style in their presentation.

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The umbrella served two functions this day – shade in the hot sun, then protection from the rain when a hard shower came through.

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She made a great entrance from the sidecar.

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As noted previously there were some vintage planes and cars, and this fire truck.

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They were very selective in the cars presented, all fitting the environment, if not exactly period perfect.

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Some Model A’s.

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Airplanes and a stylish dress and hat – how cool.

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A vintage Navy plane was on hand.

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I can see this being 1935 in Cincinnati.

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Molly Wellmann is a local tavern owner, and historian. She entertained the crowd with the history of alcohol production in Cincinnati (which is extensive).

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Meanwhile the contestants for the costume contest gathered.

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I suggested to these three they visit Twinsburg next year, they would be a hit there too.

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These ladies were also from the museum.

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The styles were great – without the people who came this would’ve been a mediocre event with a couple of planes and cars. With them it was fantastic.

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A vintage couple with a vintage hangar in the background.

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One observation I have made over the last couple of years that if you ask someone to take their photo and you have your phone or a point and click camera you don’t get much response, but if you have a SLR you get enthusiasm.

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While the dancing was occurring in another tent, this costume contestant decided to combine them.

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The pilots are ready for boarding.

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If this is the 1940s I need to time travel – what a great day.

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And they danced the day away….

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