ShortBus, do you have that guys E-mail address? I'll send him a message too and encourage him to come here. We need more members on this forum period. If you ever have mechanical problems with your bus, make sure you ask here first. Maintenance isn't as daunting as it seems. I am totally self taught as far as automotive maintenance. I was an aircraft mechanic for over 9 years before I changed jobs. Anyways, the people here can help you troubleshoot. I have been driving for about 14 years now and have never taken a vehicle to a mechanic for anything. I drive beaters too. When I have a problem, I figure it out and fix it myself.
I wouldn't worry too much about being street legal as far as paint or the stop sign or whatever. 99% of the cops out there have probably never come across a school bus that is privately owned. As long as it's insured, that's the biggest thing. When I got my bus, I drove it to work one night. I took about 25 people to IHOP at 3am.
The bus was still yellow, had the stop sign and flashing lights at the time too. You're also not allowed to have more than 11 people in the bus without a CDL. I had 25. I was stopped by the cops on base twice before I painted. I guess that a school bus rolling around an Air Force base at 2am is a bit suspicious. I never had any trouble from them other than a lot of questions.
I will probably buy a short bus about a year from now. Of course, if I find one that's a good deal like yours before then, I'll pick it up! I saw one driving around the other day with a for sale sign on it. It didn't have a phone number and the guy wouldn't stop despite my efforts to flag him down! I guess he didn't want to sell it that bad.
My wife finally made me give up the chase.
The Air Force is pretty safe relatively. There are thousands of Air Force people in Iraq right now. How often do you hear about one of them getting killed? Pretty rare. You may remember hearing about the B-2 bombers that flew from Missouri, to Kosovo and back non stop to drop the first bombs. Right before that, I got a call early in the morning and was told that I needed to be ready to go in 4 hours and they couldn't tell me where I was going or how long I'd be gone. We left and headed for Europe. NOBODY knew what was going on. Only that we were going to be refueling another aircraft. I worked on the KC-10 at the time hence the screen name. The KC-10 is a huge three engine mid air refueling and cargo airplane. The only thing bigger is the C-5. The KC-10 can weigh 593,000 pounds at take off. Anyways, we went to Sicily and waited for a while and left again. We were flying in the middle of the night. I was sitting back in the refueling pod with the boom operator. He didn't even know what was going on. We had a pretty good idea and we knew what was going on when a B-2 bomber pulled up. We were his last refuel before he went into Kosovo. By the time we got back, it was already on the news. Very cool.
Later, I went to Kosovo when Bill Clinton went there right after the conflict ended. We were supposed to only be there for about 4 hours, but wound up staying for about three days. It was pretty uncomfortable, but a rewarding trip. We hauled some presidential support vehicles over there. Anyways, we slept on the plane or out on the ramp the whole time. There was still quite a bit of gunfire and bombs going off. We didn't have much food or water for three days. But there were some British troops there and they really hooked us up. I don't know where they got all that crap, but they fed us and everything. Great folks. On the last day, Bill Clinton shook all of our hands. Later, we went back and helped bring the refugees to Ft. Dix in New Jersey. You may remember hearing about that. There were thousands of them staying there. I was stationed at McGuire AFB at the time which is on Ft. Dix. Right across from where they were staying is the Army parade grounds. I brought one of my RC airplanes out there one day and flew it. I had about two thousand people watching it and cheering and screaming. I don't think they had ever seen one. That was a fun time!
I've flown over Iraq several times. That was before we went back in there. We were refueling fighters and bombers that were dropping bombs in Iraq. I could see explosions and gunfire in the distance. Now, I'm on the AWACS. Most of the time, we're above 30,000 feet flying orbits. The guys in the back of the plane can see what's going on a long ways away. The Russians and some other countries have aircraft that are specifically designed to track down and destroy AWACS. Fortunately, none of them are mad at us at the moment.
We have quite a few counter measures for things like that anyways.
Most of the time, we go to pretty nice places! I've spent most of my time in the Middle East just outside of Dubai. Ever seen Dubai on TV? Yeah... it's nice. I've been all over Europe, Japan, Thailand, India, Diego Garcia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, Iceland, Hawaii, etc.
I love the Air Force. It's been very good to me and my family. Free health care, free education, paid to travel, the best training in the world, and I am able to provide a nice comfortable living for myself and my family. I got my bachelors degree and didn't pay one cent for it. I can't say enough positive things about the Air Force.
Here's a KC-10. This thing is huge. The engines are so big, and I can stand inside the intake with my arms straight up over my head. I'm 6'1".
This is the AWACS. Not as big as the KC-10. It's a 707 airframe. They're about $500 million each.
Here's the Flight Engineer panel on the KC-10. This one is pretty simple. It's the easiest plane to FE on.
This is the AWACS FE panel. There's quite a bit of it that you can't see. That's not me by the way. It's a buddy of mine.