Hello there. Yeah — you. The one who thought I was MIA/AWOL/just plain dead.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve been remiss in keeping my site up to date. As a former professional web developer, the kiss of death for any site in my bookmark list was always when a site was no longer updated on a timely basis. Sort of the way this one has been of late. After all, why should I pay more attention to a site than the owner does?

So who knows what sort of readership I still have left for the House of Rapp — if any.

In my defense, however, I’ve got a great excuse. I went from being unattached to dating to engaged to married in a little over a year. If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m very methodical about important matters, and this sort of thing is uncharacteristic, to say the least. However, it’s definitely the best thing that’s ever happened, too.

My fiancee — er, I mean “wife” (I’m still getting used to that!) — and I just returned from a fantastic ten day honeymoon in Hawaii. My only experience with the 50th state had come from a few visits I’d made to Honolulu when I was a kid. And Kristi had never been to Hawaii at all. I explained that Honolulu was basically a major metropolitan area and might not impart the romantic solitude we were seeking. So we ended up honeymooning on Maui, and what a great decision that was! Not nearly as sleepy as Kauai, but far less urban than Oahu.

Anyway, the past months have involved working, planning a destination wedding in San Luis Obispo, registering, the honeymoon, and of course the process of combining two households. My routine has been anything but normal, so finding time to write has been scarce. I aim to change that, however.

OK, you’re probably here because of an interest in aviation. So, on the flying front, I’m still flying King Airs for Dynamic Aviation. For the past 18 months or so, there really hasn’t been any movement in the pilot ranks. No upgrades, no new hires. But over the past few weeks we’ve had three upgrades, an announcement of a new base manager, and other developments.

I’m not sure this portends any sort of upswing in the overall aviation sector, however. These are mainly replacements for existing King Air captains who are moving on to other bases or jobs within the company. Nobody I’m aware of is being hired by airlines, fractionals, or charters. In fact, Netjets, the 500 pound gorilla of the Subpart K world, just announced it was laying off about 500 pilots. So the pain continues. The Netjets news was particularly disheartening to me, because flying for them is my ultimate career goal.

Aerobatic competition has been nil for the past year. Sad, but with the move to the Advanced category, I really don’t feel good about just jumping into things. I want to ensure I can fly the sequences safely and be competitive. Do it right or don’t do it at all. That’s my philosophy. I’ve done some judging, coaching, and instruction, just not much competing.

The RV transition training has been picking up nicely. I think I’m starting to get a stronger reputation as a Socal guy that knows RVs. The next step is really for me to get a side-by-side model — probably an RV-6 — that I can use for transitions. The problem with using the student’s aircraft is that often it’s not available. It either hasn’t been purchased, or the builder hasn’t made the first flight yet. I’ve started to delve into what’s required for an FAA training exemption so that I can hire the aircraft out for these flights. Without that exemption, it is not permissible to rent an Experimental airplane.

So that’s the story. Thanks for sticking with me and being patient. I’ll leave you with a link to a web site I created for the wedding. It’s got quite a few photos, stories, and other stuff on there. Our wedding was aviation-themed, so you’ll at least want to get a look at the photo of the cake.

Applemoon “Flying” Slide Show

The fine folks at Applemoon have put together a lovely slide show of photos from our shoot earlier this month. As a Sinatra fan, I thought the sound track was a nice touch. It’s also the title of our wedding web site.

We’ve gotta narrow it down to about 20 pictures for our album, and that’s not going to be easy! So many of them turned out beautifully that it’ll be a shame to pick only 20. Oh well — that’s certainly better than the alternative!

I thought I was creative with a camera, but even after 4500 hours of flying, I never came up with any of the stuff they thought of. The photographers commented many times on how they could have spent all day out there on the ramp because airplanes present so many interesting photographic possibilities.

You can see from the slide show that they took advantage of many of these options. Wings, struts, cabanes, flying wires, chromed spinners, gull-wing doors, and all sorts of funky curves throughout the fuselage. We ran out of time long before they ran out of ideas. The fact that they don’t spend all their time around aircraft probably let them come to the shoot with a fresh perspective, whereas I see the aircraft every day, so I overlook many of the details they immediately noticed.

The beauty of digital photography is that you can shoot to your hearts content without driving up the cost of the photos since there’s no film to purchase, process, develop, store, etc. I’m not sure how many pictures they took in total, but it may have been over a thousand. Both of them were shooting all day long.

Again, many thanks to Michael & Maren for the great work!

Old Times

What is it about a wedding that puts you back in touch with friends and acquaintances that bring back memories of such a golden time in your life?

Or is it just me?

This past Saturday, I attended the wedding of my oldest friend in the world. Erin Wilkey was my first babysitter and my next door neighbor in North Hollywood from the time I was born. She’s gets a kick out of introducing me to people by telling them how she used to change my diapers when I was an infant. Since then I’ve lived in Alaksa, Nevada, California, and have met and lost touch with many people. But I’ve always managed to keep in touch with her.

I have many pictures from my early years, but not many stories to go with them. Erin has shared a few, mostly about my mother. When Erin’s long hair would get tangled (which it always was), my mom would take her to her beauty salon and have them untangle it. My mom would sneak Erin a smoke (hey, it was the 70’s… no PC comments!), or let her drive the big Lincoln Continental even though Erin was too young to get her license.

Where was I? Oh yeah… the wedding this past weekend. So even though I know Erin and Randy (her new husband) real well, I figured I wouldn’t know many other people.

Bzzzzt! Wrong.

I ran into a bunch of old friends I haven’t seen since I was eight or nine years old. Erin’s brothers, parents, and friends, all of whom knew my mom. Monyeen, Erin’s step-mother, told me about the day they moved in next door; thirty minutes later my mom showed up at their door with a pot roast. I remember spending the night at their house as a kid, just because it was fun. Or how Buddy (Erin’s father) would always pick up a package of Corn Nuts for me when he went to the corner store. He introduced me to them and I got hooked.

And the pets! They had a whole family of dark grey cats that lived on their property–I even remember their names: Morgan, Mama, and Junior. And a fantastic dog named “Bits” (or “Bitters”) who, even when he went blind later on, knew his way around so well that he never ran into the furniture.

Several people actually said that they considered me to be “family” because of my mother, and remembered me like it was only yesterday that we were all in that yellow and white house on Beeman Ave. I’ve been told (and recall, vaguely) that people loved hanging out at our house, because my mother was so much fun and always made people feel welcome.

It was more of the same from Erin’s brothers John and Chris. Boy, they’ve changed so much! And yet they haven’t changed at all. They’re both married to incredibly lovely women. John has three kids(!) and Chris has two. I also got caught up with Teresa, one of Erin’s best friends. She looks exactly the same! Just add three kids. I’ve got pictures of Teresa and Erin sitting on the diving board in our back yard in the late 70’s, bell-bottoms and all. I’m saving those for blackmail. :)

John told me about pranks he used to play on my father. The John I remember used to sit on the roof of their house and shoot at pidgeons with a BB gun to get them off the lawn. Or catch a bee in his hands and try to take it home, even though it would sting him every time.

I’m also getting back in touch with old high-school friends, and trying to find my recently discovered half-siblings.

Anyway, I don’t really have a point to all this. Or maybe I do. It was so great reminiscing about that “golden” period when life seemed to have some structure and safety. My whole wonderful world existed on that quadrangle between the Kirks, and Azrans, and Wilkeys… and us. I miss it.