Back from Oshkosh AirVenture 99

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner:

September 1999

--Hank Bruckner

Hana Fly-In

Occasionally--rarely--the high-pressure ridge to our north that brings the trades will drift south in just the right combination to produce unbelievably clear skies across the state for a day or two. Those were the conditions that we had to brave for the GACH Hana Fly-In. It was so clear, you could see both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea from the beach at Hana. All told, we had 13 aircraft, including three Bonanzas, two of which were noteworthy because they stopped at Hana en route back to Germany (thanks to Willie Tashima). One was especially noteworthy as it was powered by an Allison turboprop. Other aircraft included a Seneca, a Lance, a Saratoga, an Arrow, a Cherokee, a Partenavia (CAP), a C-185, a Mooney, a C-172 and a C-152. This year, the Accuracy Landing Event was an all- Piper affair: First Place trophy went to Mike Webb in the Moore Air Arrow; Second was awarded to Joe Kiefer, in the same airplane, and Third was earned by Mike Dudley in his Cherokee. Nice work, guys. We were fortunate to have Carol Read and Richard Fast with us for the fly-in. It's been six years since they moved away, and it was great to have them back, if only for a few days. As usual, Gerald Mahadocon and Darryl Ribao kept the airfield spotless, and everything went off without a hitch. Mahalo, guys.

Aloha, Luke Field

After almost 80 years, the airfield at Ford Island closed on June 30th. At least, it closed to civil operations (more on that, later). The Navy development plans call for the runway to close; however, the timing was due to the State not wanting to pay to maintain operations at both Ford and at Kalaeloa. Thanks to the efforts of a few good folks, the Navy allowed us to mark the passing with a fly-in that brought about 40 aircraft to the field. Those of you who made it in now have a commemorative stamp in your logbooks and some bittersweet memories. It was good to be able to stand on that ground and feel the history all around me, and share that with aviation friends. Standing in the "Pilot Box" brought back memories of so many soloed students. Chris Ferrara's son, Travis, soloed at about 11:00 that morning, going into history as the last student to solo at Ford. As I've noted before, it has been a real privilege to share the pattern with the spirits of aviators past and have my tires roll on that memory-laden ground. Hopefully, plans to restore the tower and most of the east-side hangars into a world-class museum will be realized, and the island's aviation connection won't be irretrievably lost.

A Hard Lesson

Those of us who arrived at Ford Island early were witness to an unforgettable lesson in wake turbulence and vorticity as a hapless C-150 lost an encounter with the rotor wash from a Navy H-3 and nosed hard into the tarmac. Fortunately, there were no injuries, although that Cessna is certainly the worse for wear. The Cessna was following the H-3 which had just hover-taxied down the runway and was still in the hover near the helipads just northeast of the tower. Attempting to climb out of the rotor's effects was unsuccessful, and the wake tipped the Cessna to near knife-edge, stalling it into the ground. A few of us were watching as the incident unfolded. I was concerned that the H-3's downwash might affect my CAP-10 parked near the taxiway next to Steve Chock's C-185. Steve directed my attention to the C- 150 that was over the numbers and we watched helplessly as he flew into the wake. When it became apparent that an accident was in the making we started to run toward it and I discovered, whilst at full tilt, that I can run again (hadn't done so since I broke the leg in December). It's difficult to express the relief I felt when the two pilots popped out of the doors, uninjured! Steve got the H-3 to set down, eliminating further rotor wash, and the official crash response began. The lesson bears repeating, especially for those who will be using Kalaeloa once the Guard moves its heavy helos there: allow for serious wake turbulence from a heavy helicopter, especially if it is in a hover or hover-taxi. Even a Coast Guard H-65 puts out a significant wash. A helicopter's wake is a very complex thing. While in motion, the vortices stream aft, behind the chopper. While in a hover, there is also a reflex motion similar to a microburst. As long as the rotor is generating lift, it's producing a vortex--just like a wing. A C-150 in landing configuration is just not going to wrestle itself free from the grasp of a vortex anywhere close to the ground. So, what to do if a vortex grabs you? Don't stop flying, first of all. Much depends on the usual suspects--altitude, attitude and airspeed. How much altitude you need depends on how severe the upset (in terms of pitch and bank,) what kind of airplane you are flying, and, importantly, how well prepared you are. Altitude is money in the bank--you can trade it for other needed commodities like airspeed and time. Too close to the ground, and you'll wind up a dollar short, no matter how good you are. My experience is that the majority of pilots involved in a serious upset (beyond about 100 degrees of bank) will instinctively do the wrong thing--pull. Smoking is bad enough; a smoking hole is terrible. Never pull until you are upright. Roll yourself right-side-up, then pull. You may even need a little well-placed push as you roll, before you pull. What you're flying and how well it obeys your commands will determine how much altitude is enough. The proper response is a learned one--you need to train for it, at altitude, in an appropriate airplane. But, you do need to train for it.

Kalaeloa (John Rodgers Field)

We've had a working group to insure the transition and operations at the new airport and we are all still on the learning curve. To insure that no one swaps paint, here's what we've come up with: Inbounds from Honolulu will fly the Red Hill Three Departure to Harbor View (intersection of H-1 and Kunia Road), report in to K-Tower (132.6), then fly just north of the H-1 to Makakilo before turning south to enter the downwind. Please, DO NOT OVERFLY CAMPBELL INDUSTRIAL PARK. Outbounds from JRF, returning to HNL, will be directed to a crosswind departure below 1,000' MSL to insure you don't climb back into the overlying Class B and the approach to HNL's 8L. Remain south of the H-1 as you head for the Sugar Mill and/or Interchange. Remember the appropriate altitude to cross Ford Island is still 1,500' MSL. You are also urged to avoid flying over housing areas while in the Kalaeloa area. Please see the graphic elsewhere in this issue. Now, if they'd only come up with a name that people can actually use on the radio!

Wings Weekend

This year's Wings Weekend featured Pat Schaub from AOPA, in addition to NTSB's George Petterson (a "regular" with Wings) and an interesting look into aviation counter-terrorism by Alan Agor, FAA Security Manager. That, plus the other speakers who covered a variety of useful topics. Pat is a very accomplished and knowledgeable speaker and his insights were very much to the point here in the Islands, and it was great to have someone from AOPA here this year. Hope to see more of you next time...

AirVenture '99 (Oshkosh!)

The last prop has ticked to a stop, the corvus- oil smoke has drifted away, the last tent folded, and the last crate packed. AirVenture '99--better known as Oshkosh--is done, but not forgotten. This year's EAA Convention and Fly-in was marked by extremes, in both climate and wow-factor. The first three days were the hottest in my memory, with triple-digit temperatures and high humidity. The only saving graces were a breeze (like out of a hair dryer) and, of course, the fact that it was Oshkosh. If it hadn't been for Bud's RV (airconditioned), we'd have been some sorry troopers! This year's event was somewhat smaller than last year, possibly due in part to the fierce heat: only 765,000 people and about 10,000 aircraft, including some 2,239 show aircraft. Of these, over 650 were Homebuilts. Over 400 warbirds and 137 amphibious/float/seaplanes made it, as well as over 100 antiques, 472 Classics and 21 rotorcraft.

Laird Doctor

Thousands of spectators witnessed the first Oshkosh airshow near-tragedy to occur in recent memory. Inexplicably (as yet), as the warbirds were taking off for their airshow fly-bys, two Corsairs that were behind two Bearcats, initiated their takeoff runs while the Bearcats were still stopped on the runway ahead. One Corsair managed to avoid collision; however, the other, piloted by Laird Doctor, sheared off the right wing of Howard Pardue's Bearcat, went out of control, tumbled, cartwheeled, and burned, seriously injuring Doctor. Some of you may remember when Linda Finch stopped in Hawai'i on her World Flight in the Lockheed Model 10. Laird Doctor, now her husband, accompanied her on the flight. I had the pleasure of flying with him when we used the Seneca as a photo platform for both the Model 10 and the accompanying HU-16 Albatross. Laird flew right-seat with me during the photo shoot. I pray Laird will recover fully and quickly.

Turbo Raven

Picture this: A small, slender and sleek little taildragger sits on the runway. The pilot advances the throttle and the airplane takes off in about three lengths from the three-point attitude, and climbs vertically. Not just steeply--vertically. Wayne Handley's Turbo Raven uses its better-than-one-to-one power-to-weight ratio to do some amazing stuff. With a 750 HP PT-6 on an airplane slightly smaller than my CAP-10, Wayne does a vertical mile climb, rolling all the way. A hot Extra 300 can get about three to four vertical rolls before running out of juice. Wayne gets over 20! He also can pop the prop into Beta and come down like an elevator. He can recover from a flat upright spin by just adding power and flying out. Oh, yeah, he can also pull to the vertical, stop, and then continue the climb! And so much more. While at Oshkosh, Wayne broke the time-to-climb to 6,000 meters (19,680') by getting there in three minutes and eighteen seconds--about 5,964 feet/minute. That's from a stop. By his own estimate, he's only explored about 30 percent of the amazing bird's flight envelope. Next year's act should be even more of an eye-popper!

Wonderful, Wacky Waco

Speaking of eye-popping, Jim Franklin, who has operated Waco biplanes on the show circuit for many years doing the sort of things best suited for a Pitts Special, now has the wackiest Waco around. Culminating a 20-year dream, he's strapped a Cessna Citation jet engine to the bottom of his Waco UPF-7 to create one hilarious airshow act. I just wasn't prepared to see a Waco climb vertically for several thousand feet, making both round-engine and blow- torch noises! He also has a wing-walking act with his son, Kyle--the only performer who can claim to wing- walk on a jet airplane.

Patty, Sean, Delmar, Bob Hoover, French Connection, Northern Lights, Bobby Younkin...

That is but some of the constellation of stars that have made Oshkosh shine so brightly, and again hung it all out for the crowd. Patty Wagstaff was back, better than ever, in her new livery, and her snap- rolling 360 is still unique on the airshow circuit. Sean Tucker's Power Aerobatics exudes even more energy, if that were possible, and Delmar Benjamin still amazes with his mastery of the GB Racer. Daniel and Montaine have kept their beautifully graceful act fresh and inspired. The Northern Lights are back to five members, and announced that they will be also campaigning the Czech L-39 Albatross jet next year! There just aren't many civil jet akro teams around. Bobby Younkin is now flying Samson, the 450-horse biplane built by Curtis Pitts. His Beech 18 was involved in a fatal crash this year, when a propeller blade came off in flight. Bob Hoover still displays tremendous precision with the Shrike Commander. At 76, he's doing just fine! And there were other luminaries, such as Gene Soucy (in both the ShowCat and the Extra), Bob Davis (Sukhoi), Kirby Chambliss (Zivko Edge), Bill Beardsley in the BD-5J microjet, Matt Chapman (CAP-231EX) and Steve Wolf (Pitts Model 12),

CASPA NAVplus Challenge

Oshkosh was the venue for the third in this year's Championship Airshow Pilots Association competition series, featuring six top airshow performers competing for trophies and recognition. This year's competitors were Sean Tucker, Rocky Hill, Gene Soucy, Ian Groom, Matt Chapman, and Mike Goulian. Competitors perform three to four rounds: first in a compulsory round, where they must all fly the same maneuver, and then embellish it as much as they want to impress the judges--who, unlike regular aerobatic competition, are selected from the audience and not trained in the fine art of competition judging. The second is the freestyle round, in which each has three minutes to do whatever they want, and are judged on showmanship. The Challenge Round, then follows, in which the top four compete, in simultaneous pairs, to determine who will have a fly- off in the Championship Round. Sean Tucker won, with Rocky Hill in second. This competition is based on the wow-factor exclusively, and the pilot who can come up with the best combination of thrill, innovation, and dynamicism is likely to win. Sean has that by the bushel. An up-and-comer is Rocky Hill. He flies an Extra with a sparkly razzle-dazzle paint job that almost looks like it's covered in colored strobes when the sun angle is right. He has a penchant for tumbling maneuvers and has even developed a type of rolling loop. He also appears to be fearless, which might not be such a good thing. The series is exciting to watch and is a bit different from the standard airshow fare. My only gripe is that it is extremely difficult to watch two performers at once during the Challenge and Championship rounds--as it must be for the judges, too. But the pace is fast, there's no dead- time, and the energy levels are extreme.

Just Look Up, Any Time...

During most of the day, there is a feast of aircraft in the fly-by pattern, especially in the afternoon just before the airshow. This year, we were treated to an extremely rare Boeing 247D--the first modern airliner. Dating back to 1933, it is the only flying version in the world, one of only four still in existence. It was ultimately eclipsed by the DC-1, 2, and 3. This one is the product of over 14 years of restoration work! Burt Rutan again showed just what his incredible mind is capable of conceiving as he flew his Proteus high-altitude, long-loiter, modular airplane. Powered by two Williams fan jets, the aircraft can loiter for over 20 hours--limited only by crew duration--and can carry a wide variety of sensor and/or electronics packages for research or relay. Although no two of Rutan's creations look alike, they all bear his unique stamp. The T-34 celebrated its 50th birthday with almost 50 of the type gracing the skies, over 40 in one large formation. The FAA and NTSB are still working to come up with an answer to the wing spar issue that has severely restricted the aircraft's envelope and effectively grounded Julie Clark's airshow act. Spitfires, Mustangs, Thunderbolt, Corsairs, B- 25s, P2V, T-28s, T-6/SNJ/Harvards, PT-19/22s, L- 19/O-1s, O-2s, Mohawk, Sabrejet, MiG-15, and B-17 were among the eye (and ear) candy in the sky. I know I've said this before, but the smooth Merlin produces magical, primal music, that resonates my very fibres and the deep, rolling sound of a big, round Pratt & Whitney or Wright Cyclone sets my soul in motion. And there's the jubilant scream of an AEIO- 540 with supersonic prop tips and the whislting rumble of the Vedenyev M-14. Sweet sounds, all.

And So Much More...

Homebuilts, at the heart of EAA, abounded and amazed. In addition to the proliferation of innovative designs, the art of aircraft painting has really taken off (pardon the pun). There are some real masters with the air brush out there. There has been no slowdown in design among amateur-built airplanes, very-lights ultra-lights, helicopters and gyrocopters. Innovation , different approaches and care were abundant and mesmerizing. So too, with the Classics and Antiques. There's something about a Ryan STA that calls out to me (as do the Staggerwing, Mailwing, Taperwing, Tiger Moth, Chipmunk, and so many more.) There is also a beauty in a polished aluminum finish, whether it be a P-51, C-195, STA or Lockheed 12. Beauty and untold hours of work obtaining and maintaining that finish. Can you imagine trying to do that in Hawai'i? I've always been moved by the Warbirds, and have a particular fondness and admiration for the fighters and bombers of the Second World War era. I counted about two dozen Mustangs, two Spitfires, one Thunderbolt, three Corsairs, two Bearcats, one Skyraider, one Sea Fury, and, again, no Lightnings, among the piston-powered fighters. There were T-6s, T-28's and T-34s and two Percival Provosts. There were four B-25s, but no B-26 or A-26 this year. The Shackleton was also notably absent, but there were at least three HU-16 Albatross' on the line. There were several jets, as well--L-29's, L-39's, a MiG, Sabre, T- 33/F-80, Strikemaster, and others. And you get to just walk around them, gaze at them, soak it all in. We met a couple (the Swains) who have owned their T-6 for 30 years! Everyone scoffed when they bought it: it was a gas guzzler, had bird poop all over it, was big and dirty and, fortunately, they didn't heed the naysayers. They knew people we know, and were one of the many great people one meets at Oshkosh. Cool. Got to chat with Roy Lopresti--the guru who made the Grumman singles so fast, the Mooneys even faster, and now has one of the slickest personal fighters I've ever sat in. The Lopresti Fury (formerly the SwiftFury) is a new rendition of an old theme--the Globe Swift--but totally transformed into a modern, fast, and capable sport plane. With 200 horses, it's a serious cross country machine as well. All control surfaces are friction-less and beautifully balanced. One can dream... Also looked at a new, certificated airplane out of Australia, the Eagle 150. This all-composite, three- surface airplane is remarkably efficient and reportedly has few vices. It cruises at 120 knots on a 125 hp IO-240 (same basic engine as the Katana C1), stalls at 45 knots and can climb at over 1,000 FPM. I didn't get to fly it, but all indications are that it should be a serious contender to any flight school looking to put some new aircraft on line.

The Folks

The neat thing about airplanes are the neat people they bring together. And what better gathering place than Oshkosh. The kind folk who live there open their homes to those who don't and the whole occasion becomes one massive set of reunions. We've been fortunate to stay with a wonderful family for the last few years and they always make us feel completely at home. It really adds so much to the whole Oshkosh experience. We again shared the adventure with Carol Read and Richard Fast, and, of course, Pete and Jan Dawson and the Weisbrods. Other GACH luminaries we ran into included Mike Hance and George Read. I know there were many more of you there, but somehow we never connected. Dr. Ed Lu (astronaut, pilot, astrophysicist, and friend) was there for the weekend, but we never linked up. We did get to spend a little time with our friend Jack Atkins from Gunbarrel, Texas. Years past, he flew (and let me fly) his Christen Eagle and RV-6. This year, he brought his wife and friend Lois Armstrong in their 1960 Aero Commander. He is now building a Harmon Rocket-- an RV-4 on steroids--which he hopes to have done by next Oshkosh. And, naturally, we all get together at Parnell's Tavern after the show. Still the best baby- back ribs I've ever had, and Ellen is still the sparkle that sets that place apart. Where else does the waitress bring you home-baked pies because you are her friends?

Change and/or Progress Every year the EAA management makes changes to the venue, and some of them are good. For example, they are developing the Forums area, replacing the tents with solid, open-sided structures that are more comfortable and a real improvement. The exhibit halls have been expanded over the years, as have the Pioneer Airport and the EAA Museum. Auto and aircraft parking are constantly being revamped and generally improved. But at some point the desire to get bigger will run afoul of the ability to remain special. I believe EAA is at that threshold now. In so many areas, now, there is a feeling that the marketing department is becoming preeminent, and EAA is in danger of losing sight of its heart and soul-- the members and their aircraft. It will always be the best airshow on earth, but it needs to reconnect to its roots. See you at Oshkosh 2000!


I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the passing of three notables in the aviation world. Don Engen, Director of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, former FAA Administrator and Director of the AOPA Aviation Safety Foundation, perished in a motor-glider accident, and Astronaut Pete Conrad, of Gemini, Apollo, and SpaceLab fame perished in a motorcycle accident. Both of these aviators made huge contributions to aviation and society in general. Both were real, no foolin' heroes, and both made a real difference. And the 20th marks the second anniversary of Jim Kincaid's flight West. Scarcely a day passes, still, that something he said or did doesn't come to the forefront of my mind. One lives on in those one has touched. Jim touched many. Blue skies.

Fly The Airplane!

Friend and fellow aviator Clint Churchill shares a lesson in flying priorities. He was flying his Extra 300L, at cruise, when suddenly, the canopy opened and disintegrated. That airplane has a one-piece canopy, so when it's gone, there's nothing between you and 140 knots of wind. No windshield--nothing. It pulled his headset off his ears, and his glasses off his face and was very, very noisy. He slowed to about 90 knots, squawked 7700 and landed safely. His military training emphasized maintaining control of the airplane, no matter what, and that is exactly what he did. And, that's the lesson. Don't stop flying the airplane, no matter how distracted you get, as long as it is still even vaguely flyable. Good on you, Clint.

Good Stuff

We now have a local dealer for Avblend, the engine additive that's actually approved. Unlike some of the other things folks put in their engines, Avblend actually was shown in Light Plane Maintenance and Aviation Consumer empirically to do some good for your engine. It isn't exactly cheap, but it may be a real money-saver in the long run. Call Guy Davis at Federal Avionics, 836-3532. Rob Moore is now set up to service life vests and life rafts. His Aviation Life Support is an approved Repair Station. They're at 83Float. Poor Man's Fly-In -- Port Allen, Kaua'i

September 18 is the annual GACH Poor Man's at Port Allen. There's a nearby beach and the opportunity to talk story with kindred spirits. It's beautiful, too! We always park closer to the approach end of the runway. It's a much shorter walk to the beach and we're not in the midst of the helicopter ops. Y'all come, now, hear?

Be careful out there.

CFI Hints

Hank Bruckner, ASC, CFI/I/ME, DNRC

Losing It

We've all heard of John Kennedy Jr's tragic crash. A great deal has been written and spoken about Kennedy's death, and virtually every pilot I've talked to has an opinion on it. I guess it's my turn. The NTSB investigators haven't found any mechanical or structural cause, so, again, it rests on the shoulders of the PIC. The most likely cause appears to be spatial disorientation leading to loss of control. Those of you who fly interisland at night know that it can be very challenging at times. Whether instrument rated or not, one often has to rely on instrument skills to keep things upright, especially on a dark, cloudy night. I've also been out there when there were a few stars visible, as well as a few boats, and a couple of lights on shore. All these points of light looked similar, and it was like being suspended in a sphere in which there was no up or down. The horizon was completely indistinguishable. The simple solution was to look at the instruments and forget the mesmerizing but disorienting outside world. Trouble is, at night, if you are VFR you may not know that you are now in IMC until your strobe starts reflecting off the cloud that envelopes you. The effect can be even more startling if you had your nose-mounted landing light on when you hit the white stuff--a real light show! Flicker vertigo is insidious and can be severe. Same for "the leans". Did you know that a good way to give yourself the leans is to tilt your head while turning?

OK. So, for whatever reasons, you find yourself in a dark, horizonless, amorphous sky with a bad case of the leans, panic is starting to intrude into your thought processes, and the situation going south in hurry. What do you do? It's too late to wish you'd gotten that instrument rating at this point. First, force yourself to look at the Artificial Horizon and see what it's telling you about your attitude. Disregard what your kinetic senses are screaming at you. Then, look at the Airspeed Indicator. If speed is high and/or building, you are in a dive. Reduce power, level the wings, and gently pull out of the dive. If your speed is low, and decreasing, you're in a climb. Smoothly lower the nose and level the wings. Your airplane will seek its trim speed. If you were trimmed for cruise, it will want to recover from the dive or climb as soon as you level the wings, possibly with some phugoid oscillation, but eventually it will settle down to its trim speed--if you let it.

If you managed to get yourself into an inadvertent spin in the process, your gyros may have tumbled and the challenge meter just went up a notch. Your turn coordinator, however, will tell you which way you are yawing--spinning. You must disregard the slip/skid ball, however. Just believe the needle or little airplane. Power off, full, opposite rudder and let go of the yoke. Once the rotation stops, neutralize the rudder and smoooothly pull out of the dive. Can't see/read/understand the turn coordinator? Neutralize all the controls. That's right. Neutralize rudder, ailerons and elevator. Not sure where neutral elevator is? Let go of the yoke, then. Once the gyration stops, pull out of the dive, smoothly, of course. If you were in an upright spin, the aircraft will most likely recover upright once you either let go or neutralize everything. Upright, but steep. A smooth pull out is what's required at this point. With no outside reference, how would you know when the spin has ended? To begin with, as soon as the airplane becomes unstalled, the airspeed will suddenly increase. It will also do that if the spin becomes a spiral, however, and your next clue comes from a heading instrument (Heading Indicator, if it's still working, or your compass). If you are not turning, the heading will remain constant, right?

If you feel a little rusty at all this, call your favorite instructor and get some unusual attitude training under the hood. Then, call me and get some spin training.

Does your airplane have an autopilot? If so, know how to use it. It will keep you from again losing control. Just don't engage it while you're in the middle of a gyration. I suspect Kennedy would be alive if he'd used his autopilot before departing controlled flight.

HOMEReturn to our Home Page