by Steve Meyer
We left on a 3-day tour of Northern Virginia Friday, May 18 to Sunday, May 20, The forecast called for rain all weekend!
Friday, May 18:
After lunch at the General Store in Aldie, we crossed the swollen Potomac to Virginia. We then traveled to Oatlands for a tour of an old southern plantation home. From we went to the private museum of Jim and Edna Cross. They had a variety of different classic cars in great restored condition and lots of memorabilia they have collected over the years. We motored down Route 50 the drizzly rain changed to torrential downpours and visibility came close to zero. We also had to run a gauntlet of traffic lights. I was never so grateful Jim Cross and visitors for the walkie talkies and the cell phone as I was at that moment for keeping our little caravan together. After dinner we went back to the hotel to get ready for another exciting day!
On Saturday morning, May 19, we awoke to cloudy skies and an improving forecast. After breakfast we travelled modern to the Udvar-Hazy Airand Space Museum around the corner from the hotel. We saw the key projects: the Martin B26 Marauder, named “Flak-Bait” which flew 207 missions in WW II, the 100-year-old wooden biplane that had been repaired with apple crates from Wisconsin. From there he turned us over to Al who did a fantastic job of telling us highlights about the shuttle Discovery, the Enola Gay, and the ultimate spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird. We saw many other aircraft as well, such as the Sopwith Camel made famous by Snoopy, the infamous Cobra Attack Helicopter, and the fighter jets of WW II. We had dinner at the Lone Star restaurant where we met up with Dave and Laurie McLeish who had driven through DC in their Model A across the Chain Bridge, having to stop once to fill their radiator due to overheating.The picnic at Oak Hill was on for the next day.
We returned to the hotel to get ready for tomorrow!
On Sunday, May 20, we woke to blue skies and the news that Dave’s Model A was leaking coolant from the drain hose where it had come disconnected from the radiator neck. He went to the store to get some JB Weld to stop it but he could only find a poor substitute that worked well enough to slow the leak down so that the car was still drivable, and in fact it made it all the way home later that day with no problem! In spite of all the rain, forty Model A’s in all showed up from the George Washington club, the Greater Baltimore club, the Old Dominion club, the Skyline club, and the Hub City club to take part in the day’s festivities which included a bluegrass band, garden walks, car adoration, and a walk-through tour of President James Monroe’s home and gardens.
In conclusion, it was a great trip and I would like to say thank you to John Leydon on behalf of the GBMAFC for all the planning and effort that went into making this tour as wonderful as it was. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Chris Leydon (who flew in from Colorado), Megan Carnahan (John’s neighbor and Fairfax County Schools librarian), both of whom spent two days teaming up with the Oak Hill Farm workers Alvin and Alfred, hauling rocks to fill in the driveway (swamp), mowing fields in the pouring rain, and generally sloshing around all week to prep for the forty cars that showed up! I would also like to thank Malcolm Collum for taking his time on a busy Saturday to share with us what he and his fellow conservators are doing to preserve (not necessarily just restore) our aircraft heritage. And again, many thanks to Al Stettner for sharing his knowledge of aviation history in a most fun and interesting way, And, of course, hats off to the DeLashmutts for inviting us to their wonderful home. Thank you all!