N0WY-up Celebration of Flight, Winter

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner: 

Oct 2003

    Last issue, Oshkosh dominated and I neglected to note the USAF Thunderbirds’ excellent airshow weekend this past August.  The Air Force had up-close and personal access to many significant military aircraft, including the F-117 stealth fighter, the B-1 Lancer, C-17, KC-10, F-15, F-16, and the venerable B-52.   Talking to a young crewmember, I asked him how it felt to be flying an aircraft that was older than he was (this particular Buff was built in 1962, as I recall.)  He was thrilled to be flying it, and listed all its many upgrades, including the fanjets that replaced the old turbojets, and a very modern suite of sensors and electronics.  The only thing betraying the age of the old bomber was the set of wrinkles in the fuselage skin under each wing shoulder.  The long wings of the B-52 flex significantly as they gain or lose lift, and that causes a signature set of wrinkles.

    The T-Birds flew their routine with great precision, despite the strong trade winds that were blowing, and put on their traditionally fine show. 
    The 15th Air Base Wing at Hickam did a magnificent job in organizing this public event, and treated everyone with courtesy and respect, and handled the crowds of approximately 60,000 extremely well, considering all the security requirements of an active military installation.  Well done!

    The Thunderbirds suffered an aircraft loss during a show on the mainland. By all accounts, the pilot (one of the solos) did a superb job in ensuring the aircraft would not impact near the crowd, he was able to eject safely as well.  After a standdown (typical when an accident occurs), they are back on the show schedule, albeit with five versus six aircraft. 

Celebration of Flight
    We are closing fast on a singular opportunity for Hawai'i ’s aviators-participate in the centennial of powered flight celebrations.  The Hawai’i Aviation Celebration will culminate the weekend of December 13th and 14th with static and flying displays at Kalaeloa and a commemorative program on the 17th at Kapiolani Park, followed by a fly-by with as many aircraft as we can get.  An aviation-themed motion picture will be shown at the Kapolei Fairgrounds each night under the banner of “Sunset on the Planes”.

    The airshows will feature both military and civilian aircraft. The Navy will fly H-60s in formation and perform a SEAL HALO drop; Coast Guard will do a rescue demo with the HH-65, and HC-130; the Marines may conduct an air-assault on the airfield.  Clint Churchill will delight and amaze all with his great aerobatic routine in the Extra 300, and, if my new wing arrives in time, I’ll do my thing in the CAP-10.  We may get a couple of additional aerobatic performances, as well, and the model airplane guys will also put on some amazing demonstrations.

    Many civil and military aircraft will be on static display, to include F-15 and F16 fighters, tankers, cargo aircraft, assault/attack helos, ordnance displays, and a wide variety of civil aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines will have a B-717 there, and Aloha will show one of their 737s. 

    On Saturday the 13th, we hope to fly scores of Young Eagles, and you’ll have the opportunity to hop rides in some classic biplanes as well on both days.

    As noted above, this is a primo chance to show the public at large what we are all about.  We will have thousands of folks looking at our aircraft, talking to pilots and maintainers, and hopefully, come away with a fresh appreciation for the wonders and benefits of aviation, especially GA.  To really pull this off, we are going to need you all to participate.  If you have access to an aircraft, bring it to Kalaeloa for the weekend and show it off to the public.  Further, be one of the aviators in the commemorative fly-by on the 17th.  If you have any interest at all, please contact me (Air Boss) at (808) 836-1031 or email at acrobat@pixi.com.  If you have anything you wish to display on the ground, let Rob Moore (the Ground Boss) know, at (808) 833-5628 or email at robmoore@hula.net.  We need and want your help.

Winter Weather
    Summer is gone, and the Pacific storm track is beginning to sag southward again, bringing us more challenging flying conditions.  Last year we had almost one front a week march through or close enough to make things dicey with some regularity.  Although the NWS has stated this to be a dryer than normal year, we will likely get our share of nastiness.  Over a week ago, we had a front that stalled over Kaua'i and O’ahu before breaking up.  The remnants, however, came back to revisit the state, blown back over us by the resurgent trades.  They brought locally heavy showers, low ceilings and reduced visibility.  That was just a taste of what we are likely to face for the rest of the winter season. 

    It is important to know where the weather is coming from.   Cold fronts, containing lines of showers and low ceilings and visibility, will form off the storm lows to our north and may or may not reach the state.  This time of year, they do tend to reach at least the northern islands, if not sweep all the way through the state.  Often, they will then be blown back over us by the subsequent high and we get it twice.  About when that clears, the next system pops up, and the cycle is repeated to some degree or other.  Last year, the storm lows marched across the Northern Pacific with great regularity and we didn’t have a lot of nice weather in between systems.

    This is also, of course, hurricane season, and major storms tracking west from the southeast can also send us some ugly stuff to deal with.  These tend to have huge areas of unstable, moist air around them, and their influence can cover an extended area, especially if combined bits of a northern winter storm.

    Bottom line:  This is the time of year to play much closer attention to the weather-not always an easy task.  Flight Service and the National Weather Service are a big help, but our forecasting depends heavily on satellite observations, and high cloud cover can make that very difficult.  While our weather is generally good, when it is bad, it can be very bad. 

Be careful out there.

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