Back Corners: EAA AirVenture Encore

By Scott Spangler on July 30th, 2016

AV2-157The EAA AirVenture grounds on the Wittman Regional Airport cover a vast area. It is a hike and a half to reach its back corners, but it is worth it because it is where the interesting airplanes seems to be. Take this skeletal Cub-like airplane made of aluminum, steel tube, and carbon fiber, which was among the other Valdez STOL aircraft at the south end in the Ultralight area.

It is called Lil’ Cub, and it was designed and built for one reason, to take off and land in the shortest possible distance. Light weight helps its achieve this goal. The wings have no end plates and, if you’re tall enough, you can look down them to the wing roots. The leading edge slats and Fowler flaps are made of carbon fiber.

Unlike other Cub-like airplanes, this one has but one seat. To keep the center of gravity in place, it wears a carbon fiber fuel tank like a backpack behind what passes for a cockpit. Bare tubes connect the tail feathers to the rest of the airplane. Maybe this airplane’s Momma was a Cub and its Daddy was a Bell 47 helicopter. That may be why it gets off and on the round in 50 feet, give or take a few depending on the wind. I didn’t get to see it fly, at least not in real time. EAA did a nice video on it, so that will have to suffice.

AV4-4Way up north, in homebuilt camping, I came across this Breezy, an iconic Oshkosh airplane you don’t see very often. And this model is new construction! According to the prop card, it made its first flight in 2015, and the builder flew it to Oshkosh from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Mentioning the airplane to a friend who also like to explore Oshkosh’s back corners, he met the pilot, who told him that it took some 20 hours and three or four days to make the trip in the no-cockpit airplane.

AV4-15The theme here, it seems, is minimalism in aviation. And this GlaStar builder lived it for his week in Oshkosh. No fancy tent for him. Just a tarp over the wing, a short-legged cot to keep his sleeping bag off the grass, and a small fold-up table for his one-burner stove, lantern, and blue 2.5 gallon water jug. According to the prop card, he’d logged more than 1,000 hours in his homebuilt, and from the tautness of his tarp, it was clear this wasn’t his first campout. Curious to see how he fared with all the rain that greened up the Oshkosh grass at week’s end, I leaned in and then withdrew dry fingertips from his sleeping bag.

The good news is that a dome of high pressure is pegged to Oshkosh this Saturday morning, and pilots are taking advantage of it and heading for home. It’s about time for me to do the same. –Scott Spangler, Editor

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