Sunday, September 17, 2006

Not quite Parkersburg

I had been planning on flying in to the Parkersburg Air Show for well longer than a month, had offered my empty passenger seat to a friend that has only flown once before in his life and had to swap weekend standby duty at work in order to free up the day, and was generally pumped up for the whole deal. The forecast all week was for a glorious fall weekend with plenty of great flying weather, which in retrospect should have been an obvious ill-omen given how often those forecasters are wrong. Sure enough, my first look out the window this morning confirmed what I subconsciously had known all along: fog so thick that I was afraid to put my VFR rated canine out for his morning toilette lest he lose his way back.

The desired early departure lying in ruin, I settled in to watch the METAR updates on the ADDS weather reporting web site. By 11:00 it looked like things were pretty clear to the north, but the southeast, being the desired direction of flight, was naturally still reporting low visibility. With the Parkersburg runway scheduled to close to arriving traffic at noon, I decided it was already too late to go. Rather than scrub the day, though, I thought we'd head up to Put-in-Bay instead. As we were pulling the plane out of the hangar, the guy that keeps his Yak (and a llama, for all I know...) in the hangar across from mine was preparing to depart to Vinton Co. airport for their annual air show. He had phoned down there and gotten a report of good VFR, so we decided we'd head there instead. When we were 10 miles out, I glanced at the XM weather on the Anywhere map and saw a red over white box down at Parkersburg, indicating that the ceilings were still IFR. That confirmed the decision to just give up on getting down there and land at Vinton.

The pattern at Vinton was pretty crowded, indicating that quite a few pilots had been biding their time waiting for weather conditions to improve and had all gotten into the air at around the same time. On left downwind we were #5 to land, with a yellow wing T-6 behind us as #6. There were a couple of high-wings entering on the left crosswind at the same time, so there were certainly a lot of planes to keep track of. Knowing the T-6 was close behind, I carried a few mph too many into the landing and was rewarded with the inevitable noisy bounce on landing, much to the amusement of the gathered on-lookers. Eh, que sera sera, as Doris used to say.

There was quite a crowd by the time all the planes got in, and there were also quite a few drive in spectators.

I was surprised at the number of motorcycles, many of them being big, shiny Harleys. I loved the clock on the fuel tank of one of the better examples:

One was to ensure that you'll always have company at a fly-in or airshow is to fly a Vans plane. At final tally I believe there were six in attendance:

One in particular seemed to garner a satisfying amount of attention:

There were two Christen Eagles there, and I still find them to be amongst the most attractive planes ever. I added one to my Fly Ohio collection:

It never ceases to amaze me what people own. There were two privately own OH-58 Kiowas there. This is an artsy picture of one of their tail rotors:

The air show was fairly photogenic, primarily comprised of a T-6 flyby and a Citabria aerobatic routine. They also did the old stolen plane gag, but I have to say that the guy at the controls of that 172 really knew what he was doing, which admittedly did a great job of offsetting the hokeyness of the routine. Ah, how cynical I'm getting in my 25th year of flying!

From all indications, my passenger had a great time rubbing elbows with the array of different airplanes types on display. It's always nice to have someone along on these trips, and I enjoy explaining what all of the pieces-parts of the airplane do. I've noticed that nearly everyone is fascinated by the control panel. Even people that routinely fly commercial airlines enjoy an introduction to all of the intimidating dials and moving parts that are normally hidden from them in flight, and are equally interested in how they all tie together in the operation of the plane. Of course, there's no easier way to demonstrate the interactions of the VSI, altimeter, gyros, etc. than being in the air. "What's the VSI do?" I simply pull back the stick and show the nearly immediate reaction of the VSI, and contrast it with the slower response in the altimeter. They're imparting two disparate pieces of information, of course, but yet they're tied together in the common goal of managing altitude. Sometimes I'll even toss the response of the airspeed indicator in as well, at no extra charge.

And of course, you're all on tenterhooks wondering how the landing back at Bolton went. Near greaser, just a wee bit of bounce. Not a bad ending to another fun RV day.


  1. Looked like fun! Can't believe you got a photo of Patton Oswalt looking at your RV-6!!

  2. LOL, I had to google Mr. Oswalt, being far too out of touch with pop culture to have any idea who he is. The resemblance is certainly there, though: