The ever-popular Swift

When it comes to aircraft production, timing is critical. The history of general aviation is replete with designs that had the misfortune of being introduced at the beginning of the Depression or World War II, and then being lost to a nose-diving economy or a change in resource allocation. If it was a good design, the airplane came back when fortunes changed.

The Swift is one of the designs that went dormant during World War II and came roaring back in the post-war years to become one of the more popular two-place designs on the market. The Swift is a low-wing tailwheel design with side-by-side seating. In some circles, it’s compared to a flying sports car or even the P-51 Mustang.

What grabs you about the Swift when you see them parked in disciplined rows at airshows and fly-ins is the number of subtle variations to the design and finish. [Read more...]

The “Miss Muffet” Stearman

Stripes and spiders — not a combination most people would think of when designing a paint scheme for a vintage airplane, but that’s exactly what Merrill and MaDonna McMahan of Wausau, Wis., decided to do when they painted their 1941 Stearman.

The red, white and blue airplane sports small black spiders and the name “Miss Muffet” emblazoned on the side.

“Miss Muffet was what Dad called me when I was a little kid and I was in trouble,” MaDonna said. [Read more...]

Estelle Wingster: A vintage airplane with a modern message

In 1953 Ken Miller of Van Nuys, Calif., was a college student. He went to the airport with two friends and met a man who was giving rides in his Cessna 150.

“The guy said he would take each of us up for $10 a piece,” Miller recalled. “I had $20 in my pocket. The first guy goes but doesn’t have any money, so I paid for him. Then the second guy goes and he doesn’t have any money so I pay for him too and then I told the pilot I was out of money, but he took me up anyway. I was hooked, and took lessons whenever I could!”

Fast-forward several decades and about 1,500 flight hours later. Miller is at AirVenture standing next to a 1950s-era Cessna 195 with the name Estelle painted on the cowl and Wingster emblazoned on the top wings. According to Miller, the airplane is a flying billboard, designed to attract more people to aviation.

[Read more...]

Technically speaking…

The quest to find some answers at Oshkosh

In my last post, I had the gall to be less than positive about things at the Oshkosh airshow. I was surprised at the positive feedback about similar experiences. However, our publisher, Ben Sclair commented that to see Oshkosh through the eyes of a new aviation enthusiast is like a kid on Christmas morning — it is one of the greatest experiences ever (A suggestion for keeping the magic of AirVenture alive) And he is absolutely 100% correct.

But where are they going to find 500,000 new aviation enthusiasts every year? Since they are not available, they are going to have to depend on repeat visitors. And why do pilots return to Oshkosh, pay for their transportation, fight large crowds, and pay $250 dollars for a small hotel room? Well, most of us do it to learn what is new and to get answers to our many technical questions.

[Read more...]

Greg Marlow’s dream machine: A go-places plane

There are many reasons people chose to build an airplane. Sometimes, it’s the challenge of the project, or an attempt to reduce the cost of flying. Other times it’s to build a dream machine to handle what would otherwise be a less-than-enjoyable commute. Greg Marlow from Kingsport, Tenn., falls into the last category. He is the proud builder/pilot/owner of an RV-9A.

According to Marlow, the decision to build the RV came out of the need for a plane he could use to commute to his Air Force Reserve unit in Charleston, S.C., where he flies the C-17.

[Read more...]

The world needs more Bob Hoovers

By MATT FERRARI

This summer at Oshkosh, I was walking along with my daughter Kate, listening to her explain the layout of the AirVenture grounds along with the “have to dos” and the “must sees” to her cousin Nate, who was a first-timer at Oshkosh. The heat that day was almost overwhelming and I was feeling the tops of my ears, flying a loose formation just outside my ball cap, searing in the mid-day sun. I was having visions of a Bob Hoover style big-brimmed straw hat and the shaded relief that it would provide when I noticed a golf cart coming our way.

Next thing I know, I’m eyeball to eyeball with Bob Hoover himself! As he approached, I waved and yelled “Hi ya, Mr. Hoover!” Either out of shock or just curiosity, he decided to stop and say hello. I asked him if I could get a picture of the kids with him. He smiled that Bob Hoover smile and said, “Why sure, I’d be glad to.”

[Read more...]

beyerdynamic headset quiets ride home

“Do you have a headset?” Ivy McIver asked after I said “Yes,” to the offer to fly home with her from AirVenture in a Cirrus SR22T. “Uh, no, but I’ll get one.”

As luck would have it, my wanderings around AirVenture took me into Hangar C, where I found beyerdynamic. I explained the opportunity of flying 8-plus hours in a Cirrus, to New York-based beyerdynamic sales manager Peter Carini, and he kindly offered the company’s flagship HS 800 to sample. “The pilot will be using a Bose A20, so this will give me a chance to compare the two fairly easily,” I mentioned.

[Read more...]

Jus’ Buzzng Round

Spotted while walking through the vintage aircraft area at this summer’s Oshkosh was a 1947 Navion sporting military colors. Why wasn’t it parked in the Warbird area? Because owner Robert Gaines of Nashville wanted to park close to his friends.

During a quick chat at the show, he noted that the Navion’s previous owner get the credit for not only the yellow invasion striping, but also the “Jus Buzzng Round” logo on the nose.

[Read more...]

My last day at Oshkosh

By KATE FERRARI

As the rush of fear set upon me, I froze. The propeller was so close, whirring around at an unbelievable pace. I could feel the rush of wind it was emitting, coasting over my neck.

“Katie, come on!” My whole body jolted into action as I snapped back into reality. I ran around to the other side of the SR20 and pushed the scalding, sun-beaten wing with all my might, slowly steering the plane towards the runway. The crew and I were last in line. [Read more...]

NORAD pilots go on GA charm offensive

Three pilots from North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the U.S. and Canadian military organization charged with intercepting aircraft that violate TFRs, attended this year’s AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh to talk face-to-face with general aviation pilots on how to avoid TFRs and what to do if they’re intercepted. According to a report at AirTrafficManagement.net, general aviation aircraft make up the majority of more than 1,500 intercepts NORAD has made since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the command is attempting to cut down that number through outreach and education programs.