EAA AirVenture Reset Surprises

By Scott Spangler on August 9th, 2021 | What do you think? »

With a week to reflect and sort the interactions and activities of EAA AirVenture 2021, my challenge was to quantify why it was the most enjoyable show of this millennium. The easiest quantifier was the people who attended. With few exceptions over the past four decades, Oshkosh pilgrims have always been decent, pleasant people, eager to share their aeronautical passions. But they were noticeably different this year.

They were truly and honestly happy to be wandering the AirVenture acres from the flight line to Interstate 41 and the fences that mark the airport perimeter at the North and South 40. More than a few people, exhibitors and everyday participants, shared their likewise observations with me. And maybe what made the EAAers’ happiness so brilliantly apparent is the cesspool of unhappiness that is the foundation of everyday life, where every interaction is another opportunity to judge, criticize, and complain.

No one seemed to embody the spirit of happiness more than Brigadier General Charles McGee, at 102 the one of last surviving Tuskegee fighter pilots. He was at the Piper media briefing, which announced its participation in the launch of the Red Tail Flight Academy, named in honor of the distinctive markings on the fighters flown by the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Based at New York’s Stewart International Airport, the Part-141 program will start with six scholarship students in September, increasing to 30 students a year by 2026. The 10-month program will earn its students a multiengine commercial certificate with instrument rating.

Since EAA moved its convention to Oshkosh in 1970, it was easy to see which airplanes were the most popular by the stomped-to-death grass the surrounded them, leaving a green grass shadow of their popularity when the show was over. This phenomenon has always been most apparent in the homebuilt parking area. But not this year! Not only were there no green grass shadows, airplanes never filled this area during the show, which in itself is a surprise. The only stomped to death grass was the pathway that led from the Brown Arch to the Warbirds.

The most intriguing warbird arrived on a trailer from the Air Zoon Aerospace & Science Experience in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was clearly a Douglas SBD Dauntless, and the corroded radial engine announced with equal force that the airplane had spent a lot of time under water. What an understatement. This rare SBD-1 started its service with the Marine Corps in 1940, and ended up at Naval Air Station Glenview when the Marine scout bomber squadron got new SBD-4s. Just north of Chicago, Glenview was the home of naval carrier training and qualifications for nearly all sea service aviators during World War II. Ensign Herbert McMinn didn’t complete his approach to the USS Wolverine in November 1942. It was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan in 1994. Learning how it ended up with the Air Zoo is on this year’s to-do list.

Equally intriguing was an OV-10 in Navy livery, and the sign next to it said it was for sale. (It didn’t give a price, so it’s surely one of those “If you have to ask…” situations.) The OV-10 Squadron website said it was the first of seven OV-10s it plans to restore to full airworthiness. Six of the airframes were reclaimed from the National Vietnam War Museum in Mineral Wells, Texas, in 2018. The restored Bronco started flying with the Navy’s light attack squadron (VAL) 4 in 1969. The others are in various stages of restoration at Chino, California.

In a manner of speaking, AirVenture’s most popular airplane was “hiding” in the exhibit area, but there was no grass to kill because Mike Patey’s Scrappy was tied down in a mulch filled display island outside the Garmin pavilion. Let’s just call it a one-of-a-kind airplane that only Mike Patey could conceive and execute. Imagine, a Carbon Cub with an eight-cylinder IO-720 and big bush wheels that points its airboat prop eagerly skyward. Beware, make no immediate plans if you tune into Patey’s YouTube channel to learn more about his project.

In another corner of the outdoor exhibit area was this rotary-wing RV and campsite set up outside the Airbus pavilion. Okay, have any of you rotorheads out there in JetWhine land ever seen a helicopter bike rack before? Can you order one from Airbus, or is it a custom-made bolt-on option?

I found AirVenture’s final surprise in the South 40, which is just a few footsteps from Fond du Lac. Watching the volunteers park incoming airplanes in the last few open rows, I passed what I initially thought was a light station. Wrong again. It was a 21st century Charging Station that not only re-electrified the campers’s devices, it provided internet connections and running water. What more would an AirVenture camper need?

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

AirVenture Reset: Marketing to the Masses

By Scott Spangler on July 28th, 2021 | Comments Off on AirVenture Reset: Marketing to the Masses

Selling aviation stuff to pilots and flying aficionados is one of the foundational enterprises of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. It is a multilayered effort. EAA sells indoor and outdoor exhibit space to companies, and employing a variety of tactics, some more effective than others, those companies do their best to snag the attention of the multitude of passers-by, and in this post-pandemic AirVenture reset, the exhibit buildings were busier than I’ve seen them in more than a decade.

Before the pandemic, the media presentations at EAA Press Headquarters were an integral component of this effort. The News Conference/Media Event Schedule, posted online and on the wall of PHQ, subdivided every day into 45 minute blocks, and in years past, almost everyone of them was spoken for, with the only blank spots showing up gap-toothed on the final weekend. This year the schedule essentially ended Wednesday afternoon, with only the EAA media briefings taking spots during the rest of the week.

This really wasn’t too much of a concern because most of aviation’s primary marketers stopped announcing their new products in dog-and-pony presentations on AirVenture’s stage years ago. They transferred that effort online because it’s economically efficient, and it doesn’t have a time limit or av-hardware technical problems. Another benefit of announcing new products and services online is the ability to capture their customer’s attention one-on-one, usually in the quiet, comfortable environment of their own home.

Garmin took that comfort to the next level for its AirVenture reset by air conditioning its vast exhibit pavilion, where potential customers and the curious could get a hands-on lesson from Garminites who know the ins and outs of the spectrum of avionics equipment. It was a constantly busy place and people were crowded around the panel displays at least two or three deep.

The other avionics companies, Aspen, Avidyne, and Collins each had anchor positions in separate exhibit hangars, and their representatives were likewise surrounded by the curious craning their respective necks to see what button-and-touch-screen-ology was taking place. And as I paced my way through the buildings, it was good to see many of the familiar avionics shops in their usual places and usually in deep, demonstrative conversations with customers.

Exhibit building density is one of my markers for overall AirVenture attendance. I had to recalibrate this several years ago when EAA, several years before the pandemic came to town, socially distanced the width of the exhibit hall aisles. This year, EAA added some equally wide side-to-side aisles, but at two different times on two different days, all of these aisles were as busy as the old narrow aisles were about a decade ago. On my pre-pandemic exhibit building excursions, I would peruse every aisle in a minutes-long nonstop stroll. This year, it took more than a half hour of moist, close quarters creeping.

At least that was the case in three of the four exhibit hangars. Exhibit Hangars A and C on the north side were the busiest. On the south side, Hangar B was noticeably less crowded than A and C, but it was way busier than Hangar D, home to many of the non-aviation exhibitors and the Federal Pavilion, which was sparsely populated because the pandemic precluded travel for nearly all of AirVenture’s foreign participants.

The Fly Market, just west of Hangar D was essentially unchanged, and it looked like most of its long-time denizens survived the pandemic. During the downtime it seems like they undertook some projects of their own, like mounting a DC-3 fuselage on a truck frame to make it a street-legal (?) air show hauler. But the best deal of the show this year was found at EAA’s site-wide merch tents, AirVenture 2020 t-shirts for $5.

An unexpected surprise was the pretty much naked faces of the “For Sale” bulletin boards, just east of the tower and EAA Merchandise building. Usually they are furry walls of paper fluttering in the breeze, but not this year. Could this be that people have nothing for sale, or might this reset be, like classified ads in ink-and-paper publications, another casualty of the internet?

Another surprise was how full the grounds remained on Wednesday, traditionally the crowd turnover day. With severe weather working its way east, pilots were bugging out all day, but their departures were sporadic rather than a consistent stream. The unknown reset facets have made this AirVenture interesting and unpredictable and its every day dawns with anticipation.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Day Zero: Resetting an AirVenture Attitude

By Scott Spangler on July 25th, 2021 | Comments Off on Day Zero: Resetting an AirVenture Attitude

After we all took a year off in 2020, I hit the road this morning for Wittman Regional Airport with a tick of trepidation nibbling at my soul. It’s Zero Day, the Sunday before the show starts and all the exhibitors are scurrying about trying to get set up for AirVenture official commencement on Monday.

If Mother Nature cooperates, Zero Day is when the first horde of airplanes descends on Oshkosh, and the ATC folks start issuing instructions like auctioneers on speed. There are usually a good number of cars as well, but with all the changes to the airborne and four-wheeled arrival paths, not to mention all of the site changes, especially to the parking lots, I didn’t know what to expect, which laid out a buffet of trepidations.

Just before noon, the traffic was essentially nonexistent. That’s because everyone, it seemed, has already arrived! Over the years, EAA has extended Camp Scholler to the organization’s southern property line, West Ripple Ave. Across the street is the new Alro Steel Warehouse. For most of the year, it is a green field dotted with signposts. This morning it was an RV lot jammed packed with land yachts of every sized and description. Rarely did I see an open spot.

Appropriately credentialed, I parked in my usually assigned lot, which this year has a new moniker. Warming up my feet, I avoided the “Do Not Stroll Zone” that encompasses the four exhibit buildings and center stage aircraft display plaza. This makes setup easier for the exhibitors, and for the first time for my eyes, florescent-vested volunteers were enforcing (finally) the no-stroll rule, politely turning people 180 degrees.

Turning into the showplane parking areas that extend westward from the Runway 18/36 flight line, the grass was still green and pretty much devoid of amateur-built experimental airplanes. And there didn’t seem to be that many airplanes making their arrivals. ATC was playing over the flight line speakers, and the controllers were talking conversationally, welcoming the arrivals to Oshkosh and complimenting them on their good work at putting their airplanes on the green dot or red square. Later in the afternoon, around 1400, the controllers were having two-way conversations with the arrivals, which I’ve never before heard.

Following homebuilt parking down to the taxiway that separates it from Warbirds, I turned left and swam through a neatly parked sea of RVs to reach the shoreline of homebuilt camping. There was barely an open spot, and the lines were filling up quickly. An elephant walk of maybe a dozen RVs buzzed down the taxiway as the parking crew marshaled them into line. Their props had barely stopped turning before their occupants popped out of the cockpits and started pitching their tents.

This scene was repeating itself in the Vintage camping area, and across the empty Warbird’s greensward, it was easy to see that the North 40 camping area was similarly congested with campers. The Warbird RV corral was a hive of land yachts with buzzing air conditioners, so I guessed that the airplanes were out rehearsing for next weekend’s show celebrating the end of World War II (plus one).

Clearly, AirVenture 2021 is resetting itself as the year of the camper. Thinking about it, we shouldn’t be surprised. How many stories have we seen and read during our solitary pandemic confinement about people escaping to parks (city, state, and national) and hiking trails. Still, the dense-packed spectrum of campers at OSH stunned me. But not as much as Mother Nature will when she welcomes the tent campers to late July in Wisconsin.

Making the grand tour on Zero Day, there really wasn’t anything different in the museum; they’ve moved some airplanes around. Outside, work is progressing well on the addition. If I have to complain about something, I vote for the new wristbands. They are twice as wide as the old ones, and the plastic is flimsier. Instead of the plastic button customizing the fit with a series of holes, the new fastener is adhesive, and if you aren’t careful, it’ll be too tight, a sweaty reminder that it is late summer in Wisconsin. Finally being able to remove it is the only reason I’m looking forward to the show’s conclusion. If not for that, it would be nice if it would run for two weeks, so we could make up for what we missed last year.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

AirVenture – Int’l Home of the Young Eagles

By Robert Mark on July 23rd, 2021 | Comments Off on AirVenture – Int’l Home of the Young Eagles

AirVenture 2021 is really happening next week in Oshkosh beginning July 26 and the pent-up demand for aviation excitement/geeky experiences is expected to run high. Each year – except 2020 of course – the show attracts tens of thousands of parents and kids, many for their first aviation experience, some ready for a trip aloft. For new aviators, nothing quite matches that first flight … often in a general aviation machine.

Mine came by chance years ago in a Bell 47 helicopter when the EAA Airshow was still being held at what is now the Chicago-Rockford International Airport. I was maybe 10 at the time and my aunt and uncle were shepherding me around the show when we stumbled upon the helicopter sitting on the ground with a sign that said, “Helicopter Rides with Captain Rick.” Want to go, my aunt wondered? A fraction of a second later – or at least it seemed like it – I was in the right seat of the same helicopter I’d watched on the old Whirly Birds TV show that ran in the late 1950s. I have no idea how long that flight lasted but I cherished every moment.

Today offering young people their first ride is much easier and better organized than was my random experience thanks to the EAA’s Young Eagles Program headquartered at AirVenture’s Wittman Regional Airport. To date, they’ve already given more than 2.2 million kids their first aviation experience, often from small airports around the US.

Jetwhine contributor Micah Engber recently attended a Young Eagles rally in Maine and although they told him he didn’t meet the age requirements for a Young Eagles ride – under 18 only – I think you’ll enjoy his report of watching the fun (script below).

Rob Mark, publisher

Read the rest of this entry »

Aviation Ancestry: Luscombe Lineage

By Scott Spangler on July 12th, 2021 | Comments Off on Aviation Ancestry: Luscombe Lineage

Some days, opening my email inbox is like Christmas. This day’s present was from Ryan Short, a reader, aerial photographer, and part-time flight instructor who works with students by appointment through Texas Tailwheel Flight Training. Flying his 1939 Luscombe 8A, NC25215 ($120 an hour), he specializes in tailwheel endorsements, flight reviews, and general proficiency training. He wrote:

I read with interest your article about your father [Aviation Ancestry: Discovering the Logbooks of a Life Rarely Discussed].

I am the current caretaker of N25215, a Luscombe 8A that was also assigned to the Iowa Airplane Company from 1939 until close to the end of WWII.

I’m wondering if in your father’s records there are more names, photos, or other bits of information that might help me track down more about this aircraft. I’d like to put her back in Iowa Airplane Company markings as well.

In reply, I promised a return to my father’s logbooks to compile the N-numbers of his winged classrooms, all Luscombe 8As, and the names of instructors who signed each lesson’s entry. (The photo search must wait until my next with my sister, who has the family photo albums.) In a follow-up email he shared a photo (above) he’d found of some of the Iowa Airplane Company fleet of Luscombe 8As and two of its instructors.

What got me excited about his email is learning that the Luscombe that taught my dad to fly in 1943 is still serving the same purpose 78 years later. When I opened the logbook I discovered the N-numbers of Ryan’s Luscombe, NC25215, and the one my father soloed on October 23, 1943, NC25152, were, in a manner of speaking, dyslexic siblings. But Ryan’s email got me wondering, what happened to the Luscombes on my list?

In the two months of primary training my father received, he flew seven different Iowa Airplane Company 8As. Ryan’s airplane, Serial Number (SN) 1120, was not one of them, but that was surely the luck of the draw. The registration range of the seven Luscombes spanned from his solo airplane, NC25152, to NC28846, so logically Ryan’s airplane could have been a member of the Iowa Airplane family.

If Ryan’s Luscombe (right) is still teaching, maybe some of the others my father flew are doing the same. Off to the FAA Aircraft Registry.

The FAA deregistered my dad’s solo mount, NC25152, a 1939 Luscombe 8A, SN 1076, on September 12, 2012. Its last home was Eldorado, Arkansas.

A pilot in Gilbert, Arizona, has reserved N25356. Before that, it identified a 1977 Cessna 152 in Greenville, Mississippi, that the FAA deregistered on January 22, 2013.

NC28450 is still a 1940 Luscombe 8A, SN 1317, and still carrying its fractional owners aloft in Elba, Alabama.

N28543 is a 1979 Piper PA-28-236 Dakota in Apex, North Carolina.

The FAA canceled the registration of NC28828, a 1940 Luscombe 8A, SN 1570, on July 23, 2009, which then called Atlanta, Georgia, home.

N28846 expired on November 12, 2013, and it identified a deregistered 1978 Grumman American AA-5B Tiger in Houston, Texas.

N28573 is assigned to a 1977 Grumman American AA-5B Tiger now flying in Savannah, Georgia.

The dream of flying an airplane my father once flew will remain just that, at least as far as the Luscombe 8A is concerned. Given my stature, I’m a cabin-filling control locks. But I can still hope that others might see this and share what information and or images they possess on the Iowa Airplane Company Luscombes with me and Ryan, who can be reached at Texas Tailwheel Flight Training.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Lawyers & Engineers: The Evitable Redefinition of Flight Training

By Scott Spangler on June 28th, 2021 | Comments Off on Lawyers & Engineers: The Evitable Redefinition of Flight Training

The immediate and long-term consequences of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruling on Warbird Adventures, Inc., et. al. v. FAA, which redefined the educational mission of flight training as the “carriage of persons for compensation or hire,” should not have surprised anyone.

There is not one aspect of life and culture in the United States that is not ruled, litigated, and defined by our national legal system. We are a nation overpopulated with lawyers, whose numbers have increased 15 percent since 2008, says the American Bar Association, giving us 1,338,678 licensed active attorneys (in 2018). And most of us know that most of our elected officials are also lawyers and how almost every aspect of our lives, even our health, has become rabidly politicized.

Lawyers serve a purpose in society, but they pursue their occupation with a mindset antipodal to engineers. Like scientists, engineers look at the data and test their designs to achieve the best solution for a given problem. In short, they strive for what is right or appropriate to the given challenge.

Lawyers, on the other hand, work in a world where there are at least two sides to every situation, and it is their job to pause all action while they argue their side of the case at hand. In short, what matters most is whose point of view is right based on the evidence they present to support their argument. The goal is to win the argument, not solve (or prevent) the given problem or challenge.

Almost any evening on TV, you can watch lawyers design and assemble their cases specifically for their courtroom audience. In the Warbird Adventure case, that was the judges at the Court of Appeals. The judges are lawyers, so the FAA’s representatives presented their case in terms their peers would understand, paying for flight training is nothing more than buying an airplane ride.

Had engineers decided this case, the outcome would surely been different. People who buy an airplane ride do not undertake a premeditated, defined program of education, the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. They show up, climb in, and strap in. Engineers would also see the logic in acquiring this knowledge and skill in a flying machine as close to the one the pilot plans to fly upon completion of his or her training.

But engineers did not decide the case, lawyers did. And judging by the relentlessly expanding trend in our American society, where the first response to not getting our way is to sue (if not shoot first, then argue), we can assume that the Warbird Adventure definition of “flight training” will be coming soon to a traditional flight school near you. Even more interesting will be the consequences in aviation’s accident rates, but an increase in them means more work for attorneys.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Reading the Mars Parachute Code

By Scott Spangler on June 14th, 2021 | Comments Off on Reading the Mars Parachute Code

Every color used in the construction of a parachute has a purpose. On some, it satisfies the owner’s aesthetic. For others, it is advertising. In the military, the color serves a specific requirement for visibility, or the lack of it. And then there’s the seemingly haphazard arrangement of orange and white panels on the parachute that slowed the descent of NASA’s Perseverance rover as it plummeted toward the surface of Mars. It was unique, so there had to be some reason for it, and finding out what it was consumed my free moments.

Anyone who thinks engineers are the antithesis of fun need only look at this chute. The New York Times reported that Allen Chen, the engineer in charge of the rover’s landing system, said during a post-landing news conference that “Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find for that purpose, so we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work.” The article, “NASA Sent a Secret Message to Mars. Meet the People Who Decoded It,” introduced the people on Earth who immediately tackled the challenge.”

My guess is that all of them have seen The Martian, the addictive Matt Damon film, or read Andy Weir’s book for which it was named and so closely hews. But the oddly arranged panels of orange and while did more than spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in binary code. (Here is NASA’s decoder ring, with an explanation in “STEM Learning: Mars Perseverance Parachute Coding Activity.”)

Embedding the message was a bonus benefit devised by parachute system engineer Ian Clark, who also worked on the slow-down system for the preceding Curiosity rover. Evaluating the high-speed video of a high-altitude test failure of a prototype design, Dr. Clark found the chute’s checkerboard pattern complicated the analysis of how the fabric unfurled and inflated. Knowing that Perseverance would live-stream its descent to Mars, he got approval for a distinct pattern that would simplify post-flight evaluation.

Each of the 80 gores that made up the 70-foot chute is composed of four panels, 320 pieces of fabric that can be a different color, but he stuck with the two colors used on previous extra terrestrial parachutes because the fabric dyes had proved successful. It makes sense that jeopardizing a $2.7 billion mission to Mars by introducing a new color, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, would surely be a career limiting move for everyone in that approval chain.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Review: YouTube’s Ward Carroll, F-14 RIO

By Scott Spangler on May 31st, 2021 | Comments Off on Review: YouTube’s Ward Carroll, F-14 RIO

A pandemic addiction to YouTube has delivered consistently interesting, entertaining, and educational interludes when its selection algorithm introduced me to Ward Carroll, a retired naval flight officer who spent most of his career as a radar intercept officer, aka RIO, in the F-14 Tomcat.

Based on my past searches and binges, YouTube’s algorithm served up “21 Cringeworthy Errors in the Movie TOP GUN.” This film sustained me during my recovery from Hepatitis A in 1987. Having worn out my VHS copy that summer, I’d noticed a few errors, and I was curious to learn what I missed, and I had 9 minutes and 35 seconds to spare.

It was a worthwhile investment of time, and I subscribed to Carroll’s channel when the episode concluded. I won’t spoil, but I will tease. What hooked me was his conversational finite detail. Only someone intimately familiar with the F-14 would know the dimensions of the Tomcat’s vertical stabilizers and that they would have tangled with the fuselage of the “MiG” in the famous inverted dive scene where Maverick “communicated” with the bogey’s pilot.

Intrigued by its title, I cued up “The REAL Truth About Kara Hultgreen’s F-14 Tomcat Mishap.” In the same conversational style I learned about that the F-14A was prone to compressor stalls and how that affected the Tomcat aerodynamically. But what got me to ring his channel’s notification bell was a discussion and display of the BOLDFACE recovery steps that aviators must memorize because these NATOPS procedures “are written in blood.”

For those unfamiliar, NATOPS is the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization, the Navy’s aircraft specific general flight and operation instructions. Safety seems to be a consistent theme in many of his episodes, and this made sense when explaining “RIO Responsibilities” using examples from his career. It turns out he did a tour as editor of Approach, “The Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Safety Magazine.”

Having interacted with a number of aviators during my six years’ service in the Navy, I respected their abilities, but I have new respect for RIOs and their successors, WSOs (weapon systems operators, pronounced “whizz-oh”) after Carroll expanded my knowledge and understanding of their duties and responsibilities. And he’s earned my respect and admiration for not spewing an endless stream of Mil-speak and aviation jargon.

But I guess that’s not surprising, given that Carroll is also a novelist published by the Naval Institute Press. (The Punk’s War trilogy is now on my to-read list.) When he utters an acronym, he spells it out in English, and as applicable, he gives a topic deeper context by relating it to a scene in Top Gun or other film. (Don’t miss “The Truth About the F-14 and Goose’s Death.”)

Carroll’s YouTube channel will satisfy more than an individual’s Tomcat curiosity. It offers valuable insight for anyone interested in pursuing military aviation, including those considering the US Naval Academy or US Military Academy. A 1982 graduate, and later in his career an instructor at the Naval Academy, his episode on “The Real Story Behind the West Point Cheating Scandal” is a concise summary of a challenging educational environment that any prospective student should watch before seeking an appointment.

But I’ve gone on too long here. Check out Ward Carroll’s channel for yourself. I’m going to see what he has to say in “Chuck Yeager and True American Greatness.”

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

AirVenture 2021: Like Starting From Scratch

By Scott Spangler on May 17th, 2021 | Comments Off on AirVenture 2021: Like Starting From Scratch

Covid’s disruption of uninterrupted participation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2020 was (we hope) a one-time disappointment. Like any break in a desired routine, resuming the activity is often like starting again from scratch. Whether you are flying in or driving, don’t rely on the mental muscle memory developed over a decade or more of previous Oshkosh adventures. Prepare now for the new AirVenture routines. Don’t be that person who hinders the efficient flow of traffic because they arrived oblivious to the changes.

If you are flying in, get the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 NOTAM now! The link gets you the 32-page PDF for free! Read it. Highlight the changes. Read it again as part of your preflight briefing before launching for Oshkosh in July because things have changed, starting with the NOTAM’s effective dates. This year it becomes effective at 1200 Central Daylight Time on July 22, 2021 and expires at 2000 Central Daylight Time on August 1, 2021.

On the plus side, the taxiway that becomes Runway 18L/36R during the show is now 60-feet wide. On the negative side (especially if you still rely on solely VOR navigation), the FAA has decommissioned Falls VOR/DME (FAH) at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Kankakee (Illinois) VOR/DME (IKK). On the just different side, the FAA has added a number of transitions to the Fisk Arrival. When the controllers use them to ease holding and congestion, they will announce them on the Oshkosh Arrival ATIS. Don’t be surprised by them; read about each of them in the NOTAM, each with a Not for Navigation Chart.

Those of us driving to Wittman Regional Airport need to be just as diligent in our preparation because EAA has changed the incoming traffic flows for exhibitors and civilians. And just to make things interesting, they have changed up the parking lots. To expedite parking, EAA is also selling advance auto parking online at $10 a day (or member-only for $60 a week). Paying for parking at the gate will cost you $15 a day in hard cold cash. Volunteers will be on duty at 0600, and they WILL NOT ACCEPT CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS FOR PARKING.

You can get into all the public lots (Brown, Gray, Yellow, and Pink) from Poberezny Road, and EAA recommends exiting Interstate 41 at Highway 26 (Exit 113) south of the airport. The Gray lot is new; it fills the space south of the Media Check-in Quonset Hut on Waukau Ave., The Blue lot is now designated the D Lot and reserved for public vehicles with state-issued disabled/handicapped license plates or hang tags. Entering from Knapp St., which runs along the North 40 fence line, exhibitors will now park in the G Lot, which fills the fields between road and fence line that is the western border of homebuilt camping and eastern shoreline of Lake Louise by the Memorial Chapel.

To reduce conflicts with pedestrians, EAA has eliminated the parking lots that require specific permits to use, such as the media parking lot where I usually start my day at AirVenture. I haven’t found or heard or seen anything that gives me a hint where I’ll need to go, so I guess I’ll learn that when I pick up my credentials on Zero Day (Sunday, July 25). I hope to see you there.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor

Preflight Weather Briefings: Words vs. Pictures

By Scott Spangler on May 3rd, 2021 | Comments Off on Preflight Weather Briefings: Words vs. Pictures

When preparing for a flight, it would be a safe assumption that pilots never consider their dominant learning style when ferreting out the information for their preflight weather briefing. Time, technology, and the recently published Advisory Circular 91-92, Pilot’s Guide to a Preflight Briefing, has made an individual’s learning style a key factor in acquiring—and understanding—this critical information because they can now seek out the sources of information best suited to their needs.

There are four fundamental learning styles—visual, auditory, read & write, and kinesthetic—but you can divide them into words and pictures. Visual learners prefer, and learn best from images, maps, and graphics. Auditory learners best acquire new knowledge through the spoken word. Read & write learners gain information from seeing words. Kinesthetic learners best understand something new by getting hands-on, which is an impractical process for a preflight weather briefing. Going outside might work okay for a local flight, but they will have to adapt their learning style when going cross-country.

There was a time when words were the only option for pilots who had to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF. Visual learners could see pictures if they were on an airport that was home to a Flight Service Station. DUATS offered more words and picture options, if you had access to a computer with a modem, but the words and pictures were not real time, and pilots needed patience while waiting for the images to coalesce on the screen. Modems gave way to broadband and while weather words pretty much stuck to their time-honored schedules, pictures marched closer and closer to real time.

And now, if properly equipped, weather words and pictures are available in the cockpit. Before compiling the list of preflight weather briefing resources in the appendix of resources in AC 91-92, pilots might want to first assess their learning style, if they don’t already know.

If you enjoyed this story, why not SUBSCRIBE to JetWhine, if you haven’t already, and please share it with anyone who might find it interesting. – Scott Spangler, Editor