Friday, August 6, 2010

Oshkosh Wrap Up

This year, once again, Ginger and I were given the opportunity to travel to Oshkosh in a DC-3 and we jumped at the chance.  Although I love flying into Oshkosh during Airventure, there are some things about flying in an old airliner that has its pluses.  And we made the most of it.

By now everyone has heard about all the DC-3's that attended Oshkosh.  This is old news.  But for us this was not what made it so special.  What did it for us were the people involved and the special plane in which we rode.  Owned by Ron Alexander, this DC-3, a true early DC-3, is the second highest time airframe in existence with over 82,000 hours under her belt.  As witness to this, I offer a photo of the last remaining original rudder pedal.  So many feet have touched this pedal that a hole has actually been worn into it!  Decked out in passenger configuration, this machine is unforgettable and like I said, it has it's pluses.

Arriving at Oshkosh, our friends Ray and Judy Johnson offered to give us a ride to the dorms.  Pulling up to the plane and all our stuff, Ray looked at us and said, "Well, it's clear you didn't come up in the Cub".  We got a big laugh out of that and proceeded to weigh down their car with our cargo.  But like I said, it was the people that made it special.

Fortunately for us, we managed to score a parking spot in front of Vintage as did our sister ship from Flabob.  At the helm of each of these planes are people we're honored to call friends.  Ron Alexander, as I mentioned before, is the owner of The Chandler Field Express and Jon Goldenbaum, of Poly-Fiber, was at the helm of the Flabob DC-3.  Having been friends for a long time, these two guys are similar stand up type of people who are highly respected in aviation circles, not for money but for their down to Earth honest ways.  While there, Ron held numerous forums about DC-3's and Jon gave an excellent forum on flying the Skyraider in Vietnam.  If you're ever in the Atlanta area and need a great place to fly for food, Ron has a grill at his airport (Peach State Aerodrome), and should you ever find yourself in need of aircraft fabric or paint, give Jon a call at Poly-Fiber.

Another highlight of the show for us was reconnecting with our good friend Fern Villeneuve.  Many people know him from his days as the founder and leader of the Golden Hawks, one of the first and often considered the best jet formation team to ever exist.  Yet to us, Fern is our friend who flew those F-86's like nobody else.  If you ever meet Fern, you'll know why everyone thinks so highly of him.  He's just a great guy and his wife is even better.  Look for a white Swift with a red stripe at the Swift convention and you'll end up talking to a quiet, unassuming, hilarious guy that to this day can fly anything you put him in.  A museum in Canada has painted an F-86 as one of the Golden Hawks and if they had any sense, they would let him fly it; my words not his.
Detlef and Lillian, our friends who are flying around the world in a RV-7, managed to get a great parking spot under the Oshkosh arch and there we managed to speak to them again before they left to continue their journey.  These two people make friends wherever they go and we look forward to seeing them again in the future.

One day we made our annual vigil to the seaplane base and managed to snag a few good photos of the planes on hand.  If you ever get the chance, you should absolutely go to the seaplane base during Airventure.

As for the main airfirled, planes of particular interest that were on hand included the last of its kind Hamilton Metalplane, a Rapide, and a Caudron racer replica that was amazing.  Ben Scott brought his amazing Widgeon, there was an L-13 that Ginger swears she needs, Clay Lacy let us climb in his DC-2, and in the grass was a Sikorsky flying boat that sadly will be flown and then parked forever as a monument to the owners.
As for other aircraft I won't mention, it is always interesting to see planes get awards and media attention when you know the real behind the scenes story.  There were several groups on hand with aircraft getting just that and as always the story they were telling did not match the reality.  If I live long enough to reach the point I don't care at all, I'm going to tell the real story of all these shady characters, the lies they've told, and the lives they've put in danger.  But for now, these people will continue to fill the pages of magazines as "heroes" to an unknowing populace.

On another note, Ginger and I managed to speak to some groups that could help shore up the long term viability of the airport and a few potential sponsors for the Wood, Fabric, & Tailwheels Fly-In.  If you know of anyone, any group, or any business that would be a good fit with the event, let us know.

But back to the people.  We sincerely, and with the greatest emphasis words can express, would like to thank all of you who stopped us to say hello and verbalize your support for what we are doing here.  We really do try our best to offer a part of aviation you can't find anymore and to hear from you makes it all worthwhile.  But more importantly, it is great to know that there is still a big demand for friendly grass fields where "all planes and most people are welcome".

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