It's been three weeks since my last lesson. In the interim I went to the EAA Fly-In at Oshkosh--three of the seven days of it, the hottest three, with temperatures right at 100 F and the heat index near 110. I didn't decide to go until it was too late to reserve any room with air conditioning within 50 miles of Oshkosh, so Carol and I ended up in a room on the top floor of a dormitory at Ripon College. The only smart thing about that was that I remembered to bring along a good, big fan. Except for the heat (and the somewhat heavy, uninspired breakfasts in the college dining hall) the Oshkosh experience was--well, almost overwhelming. People had told me that three days was the minimum needed to see everything, but I see know that all seven days wouldn't be enough to see everything. I believe the EAA's claim that there were over 11,000 airplanes and 800,000 people there.
I won't try to describe the Fly-In--but I can't keep from describing the sensation of watching arrivals and departures one evening, after the air show. We'd driven out of the EAA grounds and parked in the lot beside the OSH terminal, near the northeast corner of the airfield. We were listening to some of the radio traffic on a handheld--a constant stream of talk almost exclusively the controllers. They were using at least 4 runways simultaneously--27, 18L, 18R, and occasionally another one, 22 (?). We were north of the 18-27 intertsection. And what a circus! Airplanes were going everywhichway--all different sizes and airspeeds, from J3 Cubs to jets. They were coming in over Lake Winnabago a few seconds apart. Some would be directed to turn left and land on 18L or 18R. Others landed straight ahead on 27. Other airplanes were taking off on those runways in between the arrivals. We timed arrivals landing on 27 and found that the typical interval was about about 8 or 10 seconds. Typical, yes, but there were plenty of exceptions. For example, we saw a Cessna 172 land on 27 and a faster Extra that was behind it on final flew over it and landed AHEAD of the 172.
Back to Petersburg and the taildragging Citabria. I felt a bit
awkward and out of touch at first but managed to settle down after a bit
and fly the airplane. Carmine had me do normal and short takeoff
and landings--normal landings are three-point in a taildragger--and of
course he pulled the throttle several times to see if I could land from
awkward positions. After a while he had me try some crosswind landings
and takeoffs on runway 32, which is short and has a big stack of steel
beams beyond the displaced threshold on the west end. (Why?)
There were also several guys flying R-C models down there, and a couple
of times we flew right through "their" airspace. There eassly wasn't
enough wind to get in significant crosswind practice, and an aircraft auction
was about to begin, so we called it quits after a while.
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