JetWaco    Back from Osh                                

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner: 

September 2003

--Hank Bruckner

Hana Hou
We kicked off the summer season with our annual fly-in to Hana, and this year about a dozen aircraft braved the spectacular weather.  It was good to see our faithful friends, the Haymores there from Hilo in their recently painted Super Hawk (a Skyhawk with 180 steeds under the cowl).  Randy Cislo brought his gorgeous Twin Comanche, Steve Bobko-Hillenar flew his stunning new Saratoga, Eliot Merk had his ever-nice Mooney, and Earl Farnsworth rounded out the Big Island contingent in his spiffy Super Decathlon.  O’ahu was fairly well represented by Sue Hillman in her Sierra, Rob Moore in one of his Arrows, Addie and Jim in a C-152, and Chris Ferrara’s Saratoga.

Eight intrepid aviators competed for trophies and bragging rights in our traditional Accuracy Landing Event.  Chris Ferrara took home the top trophy, with Earl Farnsworth coming in 2nd,and Howard Haymore, 3rd.  Congratulations to all. 

Hana is one of the jewels of the state airports system, and Darryl Ribao does a great job keeping the place up, in spite of being understaffed. Thanks.  Next year, eh?

AirVenture 2003
Once a year I face the daunting task of reducing the world’s greatest aviation event to a few words in the hopes of capturing even a taste of the phenomena that is Oshkosh.  As full of anticipation as I always am prior to making the trek to Wisconsin, Oshkosh never disappoints. Oshkosh offers at least something for everyone, a great deal for most, and probably everything for some.  If you were there, your experiences no doubt were different from mine. If you weren’t, you are welcome to mine.

Of Planes…
Every year brings a number of significant aircraft that are displayed at Aeroshell Square and elsewhere around the grounds.  Their significance may stem from history, purpose, design, unusualness, function, rarity, beauty or a combination of any or all those attributes.  There were approximately 11,000 aircraft present, and a record 2,960 were registered show planes.  Even though I probably saw most of them, I’ll only highlight a few.
Jim Wright’s breathtakingly beautiful replica of Howard Hughes’ H-1 racer gleamed its flawless workmanship in graceful curves, reflecting the timeless brilliance of its original design as well as the dedication of its crew. This was not only an airplane; it was a work of art and quite possibly the most beautifully crafted article I have ever seen. It quickly and deservedly became one of the most photographed aircraft in history. What a heartbreaking jolt when Jim Wright perished in the H-1 on his return home from AirVenture.  A staggering loss.

Boeing again resurrected their stunning Model 307.  This was the first pressurized airliner and is again finished in gleaming metal-lots of it!  Following its untimely dunking near Seattle, the aircraft has been fully restored once more and is on its way to the Smithsonian.  
The extremely rare stubby little Polikarpov I-16 fighter emits a low-pitched growl from its 1000-horse radial as it flies by.  One of the first “modern” monowing fighters, the diminutive I-16 looks like a real kick to fly, though I suspect that open cockpit was a challenge in a Russian winter.  It was, however, the forerunner to a long line of successful Russian fighters.

NASA is always well represented at AirVenture.  In addition to the ER-2-NASA’s research version of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in resplendent white-there was an F/A-18 Hornet that has been modified with an aeroelastic wing.  That’s the 21st Century way of referring to a wing that bends.  The Wright brothers called it “wing warping”.  Rather than a hip cradle, the F/A-18 relies on hydraulics to achieve basically the same thing.  The NASA tech I was chatting with noticed from my shirt that I was from Honolulu.  He was from Waianae.  Small world. The aileron was an expedient and relatively simple solution to lateral control; wing-warping is a more efficient and therefore elegant solution. This F/A-18 uses both.   What goes around…

Living history is everywhere at Oshkosh, embodied by several of the participants in the National Air Tour, which is again underway thanks to Greg Herrick. The original National Air Tours hark back to the effort by the Ford Motor Company to popularize air travel in the ‘20s by bringing a taste of aviation to communities across the country (they made airplanes in those days).  About 27 vintage aircraft are participating in the current Tour, several of which flew in the original Tours. Present this year were Ford and Stinson tri-motors, Sikorsky flying boats (S-38 and S-39), a Ryan monoplane, and several other magnificent Wacos and Travel Airs and more.  The Tour will actually begin September 8th at Dearborn, Michigan and cover some 4,000 miles and 21 states before winding up back at Dearborn on September 24.  Herrick is the tour organizer and a serious collector of Golden Age aircraft.  What a treat to not only walk around many of these grand old birds, but to watch and hear them fly! 

A Super Connie also graced Shell Square with its elegant tail and slinky fuselage. That was the epitome of the prop liner, and arguably the most beautiful, in the days when people still dressed up to travel and considered getting there half the fun.  Near the Connie was an Airbus that’s been modified to haul outsized cargo and is known as the Beluga.

There were about 405 Warbirds registered, and we paid our homage to several P-51s, a P-40, a couple of Corsairs, many T-6/SNJs, T-28s, some B-25s, an A-26, B-17, Bearcat, A-1E Skyraider, Hawker Hunter, F-86 Sabre, Navy Fury, several Hawker Sea Furies, Two Spitfires, Grumman Albatross and Goose, L-19/O-1s, O-2A Skymaster, L-3s and L-4s, and more-so many more!  As I walked among the fighters and bombers under leaden, gray skies, it was not a very large leap back to an airfield in southern England under similar skies, with men, mostly gone now, preparing to again face combat.

One of the rituals Linda and I have developed over the years is to walk to the very end of the South 40 aircraft parking-Row 159, I believe.   Way past the end of the runway, past the sign that says “Entering city of Fond du Lac” which I believe is in jest, but only just.  The day we trekked the line, the fog was late lifting, and the backlog of aircraft waiting to depart was huge and the mixture of airplanes on the taxiway was enthralling.  Only at Oshkosh.   Again, of course, many more great aircraft were everywhere-Swifts, many amphibians, including a Turbo Beaver with the Stars and Stripes on the port side and the Canadian Maple Leaf on the starboard side and a Piper Aztec on amphib floats and several models of Grumman flying boats.  A stunning, mirror-finish Lockheed Model 12 was there, as were a bevy of beautiful Beech Model 18s.

AirVenture parks many of the classic aircraft together in a grassy area near the Theater In The Woods, and the idyllic pastoral setting is natural for the rows of wondrous creations-Cabin Wacos, open Wacos, Stinsons, Fleets, Culvers, Tiger Moths, Stearmans, Staggerwings, a beautiful Ryan STA, a Heath Parasol, a Chipmunk, several C-190 and C-195s (long one of my favorites).

Oshkosh is all about homebuilt aircraft-at least, that’s the origin of the whole movement-and variety and numbers of them was truly amazing to behold.  One of the most beautiful was a bright red GP-4.  A sleek (I mean, sleek!)  all wood two-seater, this GP-4 has one of the most impeccable finishes I’ve ever seen on an airplane.  Its flying qualities reportedly mirror its appearance.  Scott Chritiansen’s Emeraude was back this year.  It was designed by the same gent that created the CAP-10 and has become a regular fixture at AirVenture.  RV’s, Harmons, VariEZs and the whole progeny of Rutan designs were very evident, as were Lancair models ranging up to Lancair IVPs sporting a Walther turboprop engine. 

The EAA folks have long accepted that people will be wandering around airplanes and have developed excellent procedures to calmly keep them away from moving parts with minimum fuss.  Periodically, someone fires up one of these beauties and people calmly stand aside as one or more marshallers on scooters escort the taxiing plane through the crowds to the taxiway.  You just pause and watch a bit of history chuff on by.
Aircraft manufacturers, certificated and experimental, make up a major portion of the exhibits, and Oshkosh provides a great way to see up close all the aircraft that have been featured in the aviation press.  Adam Aircraft had their composite piston and jet models, Piper and Cessna were well represented, as well as Mooney, Cirrus, Lancair, Diamond, Apex (makers of the CAP-10), Aviat (Pitts and Husky), American Champion, American Tiger, and so many more.  One of the slinkiest is a two-seat jet, called the Javelin, that looks like a scaled down T-38 with F/A-18 tail fins.

And things…
Perhaps the most rapid development is in the field of avionics.  There are many manufacturers of capable new electronic displays that provide a huge amount of useful information to the pilot.  Sadly, many will never be available to those of us who fly certificated aircraft.  A rule of thumb is “five years and a million dollars” to certify a box to stick in your panel.  The FAA often is unable to even develop the certification standards in any reasonable time frame and the process is so slow and cumbersome that it is financially untenable for many manufacturers, especially those seeking to make affordable equipment for GA aircraft.  For example, Dynon Avionics makes an EFIS that combines the AI, altimeter, airspeed indicator, VSI, DG, clock/timer, G-meter and voltmeter into a single screen that mounts to a standard 3 1/8” instrument panel hole.  It doesn’t rely on gyros, but rather a variety of sensors, and is available at a reasonable cost. It would be perfect for a range of aircraft, including aerobatic aircraft that don’t normally have functioning attitude and directional gyros.  Unfortunately, they have no plans to seek certification, and you can’t put it in your Cessna. 

Here’s the irony: the certification process exists to insure a level of performance, and thus, safety; however, the process itself is so onerous that it actually becomes an obstacle and obstruction to safety by keeping useful and needed equipment out of your cockpit.  An example:  To make cross country flights much safer, CAP Industries, maker of the world-beater CAP-232 unlimited aerobatic airplane, is considering taking the airplane out of its standard airworthiness certification so that they can offer affordable panel options only available to an experimental category aircraft. 

Several companies displayed their new engines. Bombardier is leading the charge with two liquid-cooled V-6 engines that produce 220 and 300 hp (one is turbocharged).  These have Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and will burn either avgas or unleaded auto gas.  Certification is scheduled for next year.  It will be interesting to see if any aircraft manufacturers incorporate these new power plants.

If you want stuff, Oshkosh likely has it.  Sadly, the Fly Market continues to shrink, both in size and variety of goods offered.  On the flip side, the exhibit halls were packed with vendors and several companies also erected temporary pavilions to display their wares.

And People…
Oshkosh is all about people-plane people, to be sure, but people, nonetheless.  Bud and Gladys and their daughter and son-in-law Jan and Jim again provided a haven with their Bounders RVs and superb hosting. Bud’s air show hat has become famous, having been featured in a book about Oshkosh (among other things).  While we were watching the air show one day, a woman approached him and asked for his autograph, which he graciously granted, of course!  Carol and Richard came down for the weekend.  It was also good to see former GACH President Mike Hance and the Meinen’s.  Jack Atkins and his son flew their Harmon Rocket up from Addison, Texas, braving some “interesting” weather.  Jack’s buddy, Richard, also came up in a Cherokee 180. Jack is building a Velocity, so that his wife will ride with him.  She doesn’t like to sit in the back of the Rocket.  Jack’s aircraft are always beautifully built and fun to fly.  Can’t wait to fly the Velocity next year!  

Oshkosh also offers the opportunity to listen to some of aviation’s living legends and greatest minds.  Burt Rutan has to be one of the great innovative thinkers of all time and his presentation on his manned space program (Tier One) was alone worth the whole trip.  He started out asking, “How many of you are building or have built your own airplane?” Naturally, many hands went up.  He then asked, “How many of you are building your own space ship?”
As you read this, the Rutan team has flown the White Knight carrier aircraft and has done glide testing of SpaceShipOne.  The rocket has also been tested, and the next milestone will be the powered flight to the edge of space (100 km).  Rutan’s brilliant design enables the White Knight to be a flying simulator for the SpaceShipOne in all but the rocket-powered ascent.  So, by the time the test pilot first climbed into the space ship, he was already familiar with its controls, switchology, and basic performance.  Rutan is careful not to publish a timetable for his program.  He prefers to announce what has been accomplished, rather than dwell on what he plans to achieve.  When you consider the dozen or so aircraft to come out of the Rutan Aircraft Factory and the numerous creations of Scaled Composites, you get an inkling into the magnitude of Burt’s creative genius.  Stay tuned…

 And Flying…
At any given moment some bit of history-past, present or future-is in the sky over Wittman Field.  Trimotors, jets, antiques, replicas, new creations, and homebuilts of every stripe constantly remind us of what was, is, and may be.  Then at about 3 pm the real fun begins with the afternoon air show, curtailed a couple of times due to ugly weather.  Many of the icons of the aerobatic world were back this year-Sean Tucker, Patty Wagstaff, Mike Goulian, Jim Franklin, Bob Younkin, Mike Mancuso, Kirby Chambliss, the AeroShell Team, Matt Chapman, and Howard Pardue.  Several performers flew at Oshkosh for the first time, including Jim “Bulldog” LeRoy in a hot Pitts Special, Herb Baker in a T-28, Dale Snodgrass in a Corsair, Eddie Andreini (Stearman), Pat Epps (Bonanza), and the Stars of Tomorrow.

Sean Tucker and Mike Goulian established a program to mentor six young and talented aerobatic pilots and showcase their skills at Oshkosh under the banner of Stars of Tomorrow.  Understand, that flying at Oshkosh is a coveted honor for a performer, and these youngsters (two 20-year olds, two 22, a 29, and the oldest, 30) were given the chance of a lifetime.   Each of the six, after intensive training, put on a four-minute routine each day. These talented and fortunate pilots are:  Chandy Clanton (Edge 540), Wyche Coleman III (Pitts S-2B), David Ellison (CAP-232), Zach Heffley (Sukhoi 26), Nick Nilmeyer (Extra 300S), and Goody Thomas (Sukhoi 31). 

Sean Tucker remains the most dynamic airshow performer, keeping his routine fresh and exciting in his Challenger Special (very modified Pitts), but the gap is narrowing.  Mike Goulian flew superbly, melding the breathtaking performance of his CAP-232 into a fast-paced, imaginative routine flown with incredible precision.  Matt Chapman, also in a CAP-232, displayed the skills he has brought to the U.S. Aerobatic Team, and Kirby Chambliss, also on our team, demonstrated the awesome power-to-weight ratio of the Edge 540, including hanging everything on a startling Cobra maneuver right after lift-off.

The spirit of barnstorming is alive and well at Oshkosh.  Jimmy Franklin was back with his jet-powered Waco biplane, which he flies masterfully, getting the most out of the 600 hp radial as well as that jet.  There is nothing small, quiet, or understated about that Waco or the way it is flown.  His son does a wing-walking routine on that plane, as well, and that has to be one eye-watering, cheek-flapping ride!  Bob Younkin put a beautiful Beech 18 through a flawless combination of loops, half-Cuban Eights, barrel rolls and even point rolls, and also worked his magic in a Decathlon and Samson, a Pitts Special with a big radial engine.  Jimmy, Bob, and Jim LeRoy also teamed up with Les Shockley-of jet-truck fame-in  a loosely choreographed cacophony of motion, noise, fire and smoke called the “Masters of Disaster.”  All three pilots careen around the sky to loud music great gobs of smoke and culminate with Shockley’s jet truck making a 300-mph-plus run down the runway with the jet Waco in hot pursuit.  Exceeding three hundred miles an hour in a truck also has to be one heck of a ride.  The truck has three jet engines that produce about 36,000 horsepower and has gone 376 mph!  Les is also the guy who hung the jet on Jimmy’s Waco.

In spite of the weather, the warbirds managed to fly most days, and the symphony of big radials and Merlins was moving and exhilarating, as always. Where else in the world can you relax in your camp chair while so many of the best pilots in the world demonstrate their skills and aircraft?  All this spiced up by the arrival of, say, a U-2, or the Ryan NYP replica, or any number of rare, precious, one-of-a-kind craft.

Celebration of Flight…
This year is the centennial of powered controlled flight, and the Ford Motor Company teamed up with Microsoft and EAA in a center-stage showpiece display of the Wright Flyer replica that will fly on December 17th.  Two pilots (of the four finalists) were chosen to make the historic flight (to be decided by a coin toss, as done 100 years ago).  Picture this: You have been chosen to fly a carefully crafted (a.k.a. very expensive) replica of a very unstable aircraft in front of massive, worldwide media coverage, especially the aviation press, read by your peers.  The Wright Stuff, indeed.  The display also featured five or six simulators, based on Microsoft’s Flight Sim 2004, which allowed you to lie in a cradle similar to the original and attempt to fly the simulated flyer with the elevator control in your left hand and throttle in your right.  You bank by swinging your hips in the direction you want to turn.  The simulator emulated the pitch instability and somewhat sluggish roll response attributed to the original Flyer, and was immensely popular.

The Bottom Line…
AirVenture, or Oshkosh to the purists, is still the prime aviation event in the world, unless you are shopping for an airliner or fighter, in which case you’d be better served at the Paris Air Show.  It brings together, in large numbers, the best people, best aircraft, best ideas and lots of friends.  If you haven’t gone, you owe it to yourself.  See you next July 27th to August 2nd at Air Show center.

Hawai'i Aviation Celebration
After getting off to a sluggish start, plans are well underway for Hawai'i ’s own celebration of 100 years of powered flight and 93 years of flight in Hawai'i.  A major aviation event will be hosted at Kalaeloa Airport, to include an air show and extensive ground exhibits and displays over the weekend of December 13th and 14th and a special event at Kapiolani Bandstand (site of the first airfield in Hawai'i) on December 17th, which will include a massive fly-by. Statewide aviation historical and educational events will be held and Eliot Merk has already flown the Hawai’i State Flag to Kitty Hawk joining flags of the other 49 states.

We are looking for 100 aircraft for the 17 December flyby-one for each year of powered flight. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the strength and beauty and wonder of aviation, especially general aviation, to the community at large and is also the chance to be a part of an historic event. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of this aviation extravaganza.  If you have an aircraft or anything else related you’d like for a static display, contact Rob Moore.  Incidentally, the impetus behind this whole even was Rob’s, and we all owe him big time.  We want to make this a huge celebration of aviation, and need you all to help.  You can reach Rob at 833-5628 or 386-9939 and me at 836-1031.   Ed Helmick is the honcho for the state and can be reached at 838-8712.

Temporary Flight Restriction
We are still suffering the effects of the hastily implemented and ill-conceived TFR over Pearl Harbor and Hickam.  The TFR concentrates inbound and outbound traffic in a narrow corridor bounded by the Ko’olau Mountains and the TFR boundary, separated by 500’ in altitude.  It allows precious little maneuvering room, scant clearance from the orographic clouds that usually cling to the mountains, and channels aircraft over some heavily populated areas.  Moreover, north arrivals to HNL have to maintain 2,000’ MSL often until established on the downwind leg, requiring a steep decent and high bank angle-hard on the airplane and passengers.  In short, the TFR is unsafe and damaging.  It is also unnecessary.

A typical GA aircraft just does not have the kinetic energy to do any meaningful damage to anything at Pearl Harbor, especially a nuclear submarine designed to withstand the humongous pressures of the deep.  A more useful and acceptable solution would be to eliminate the TFR and at the same time eliminate the cutout in the surface area of the HNL Class B over Ford Island and Pearl Harbor.  This would extend the Class B surface area and thus the Honolulu Control Facility’s regulatory positive control over those areas.  In the event the Force Protection Level is raised, upon notification by the military it would be a simple matter to re-route inbound traffic as required.  Eliminating the TFR would enhance safety, allow the HCF far greater flexibility in keeping us from swapping paint, and still maintain positive control over all ingressing and egressing aircraft.

The Navy had already agreed to shrink the TFR somewhat, though still maintaining the zone over Pearl Harbor and Hickam, with the blessings of ATC.  That initiative, however, is still where it has been for some time-at FAA Headquarters.
Dave Lemon, a CFI, has written letters to various state and federal authorities, including ADM Fargo, for relief.  He has proposed an open evaluation of the need for the TFR be conducted.  As a result, the DoT/HIANG is looking into the matter and we have stated our position on the TFR.  GACH will continue to work this issue hard both at the local and national level.

Be careful out there.

Hank’s ratings

Richard Grover- Tailwheel transition
Kevin Chang - CFI Spins
Sean Lau - CFI Spins

HOME Return to our Home Page