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Thoughts From The National Waco Club Reunion Fly-in

by Tori Williams 2. July 2017 12:30
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Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an aviation event that truly inspired me. The 58th annual National Waco Club Reunion was held at Wynkoop Airfield in Mount Vernon, Ohio. My husband and his father have flown into this particular fly-in for several years. This was my first year being able to join them, and I am so glad that I did.

Our trip to Wynkoop was a little over 200 nautical miles. We arrived Thursday evening and did our best to prepare for the incoming thunderstorms on Friday. The rain definitely hit full force and pilots were grounded for the majority of the day. Thankfully all was not lost, and the skies opened up to beautiful sun and favorable winds on Saturday. It was the perfect weather and a great backdrop to the 22 unique Waco aircraft that flew in.

There were several factors that made this fly-in so special. First, the majority of the Waco aircraft flown in are project planes that have been meticulously restored from the ground up. The passionate aviators who have dedicated thousands of hours to their planes aim to honor historical accuracy. These are friends that go back decades and have watched the progress of each other’s projects over time. They call it a reunion for a reason!

Second, the pilots at this fly-in wanted to do just that – fly! At any point in the day there would be several beautiful biplanes whirling around the field, doing low passes, and occasionally taking the lucky passenger for a ride. I like this aspect better than events like AirVenture because you are able to go up whenever you’d like, whereas it can be difficult to get into the air at AirVenture if you aren’t in an airshow.

The third special thing about the National Waco Club Reunion is the locals who come out to see the planes. They are always respectful and curious about general aviation. Unlike some fly-ins where the public seems to come just for the entertainment value, these people have a much deeper passion and respect for the work that goes into restoring and maintaining these aircraft.

An important part of every fly-in is the food that is available. There was a hearty breakfast served Saturday as pilots prepared for the day ahead. In the afternoon attendees enjoyed brats, burgers, and hotdogs with all of the fixings. Another great option was the homemade ice cream food truck parked outside the FBO. The Saturday night banquet was especially delicious and the catered buffet was served on the field!

The fly-in is not heavily publicized in the area. Locals just know that near the end of June the biplanes will come in, and they will show up after they see them flying around town. I had a good experience with every single person that I interacted with from the town of Mount Vernon. They were enthusiastic about the airplanes and we had several of them thank us for coming to town.

My husband especially enjoyed taking the locals up for rides during the fly-in. He said it’s important to him to show people that aviation is a lot more than a way to get from point A to point B. General aviation is more than a hobby, but rather a lifestyle for many. The more that the general public knows about it, the more they will be willing to support pilots and airports in legal matters they may have a voice in. Giving a face to general aviation and the people who enjoy it is an important mission for both of us.

Overall this fly-in was a great experience and I highly recommend attending in the future. The enthusiasm and zeal for aviation shared by the pilots is very clear as soon as you step onto the field. This fly-in truly serves as a great example of success for all other types of aviation events.

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Flying | Tori Williams | Vintage Aircraft

Top 5 Reasons YOU Should go to EAA AirVenture This Year

by Tori Williams 2. June 2017 16:21
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I am excited to report that we are officially less than two months away from the start of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017! Dubbed “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” AirVenture is hosted annually by the Experimental Aircraft Association near the end of July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year the dates run from July 24th -30th. I have been lucky to be able to attend Oshkosh three times before, including flying in twice.

One thing that has surprised me while studying aviation in college is that very few of my classmates have gone to AirVenture. A few of them had not even heard of it before! I am here to tell you about how AirVenture is a must-do for any aviation enthusiast, and how it can be affordable and fun for anyone – including college students!

(Note for the pilots: Maybe you have been going to Oshkosh for years, but have never tried to fly in. This year you should consider pushing yourself and flying in! It may seem overwhelming at first but the tower and ground personnel are extremely skilled at helping first-timers during their entrance. Read up on the NOTAM and imagine the sense of accomplishment you will when you can proudly say you flew into AirVenture!)

Without further ado, here are my top five reasons you should visit Oshkosh this year.

1. It’s Affordable

One of the biggest reasons my college friends haven’t been to AirVenture is because they think that it is not affordable. Let me tell you, EAA has thought about that. They want as many people as possible to experience the week so they have made ways for even the most frugal people to come. Although the cost of admission and camping out usually add up to less than the cost of one Spring Break trip, EAA also has a whole host of opportunities for visitors to volunteer during the week and get free admission, meals, and even accommodations.

2. It’s a Great Learning Experience

A good aviator never stops learning, and there are thousands of ways you can learn new things while at Oshkosh. Head over to the forums to learn about everything from TIG welding to the complete history of a specific aircraft. Additionally, there are over 800 exhibitors to visit and learn about. The cutting edge of technology is always on display at AirVenture, and attendees will be able to see things they never would have otherwise.

3. It’s Great for Networking

Whether you are a business owner, a college student, a professional pilot, or anything in between, there is going to be someone at AirVenture that you need to meet and talk to. I have made lasting friendships with people I have camped beside, and I have made professional connections with vendors that I can use throughout my whole career. The best part is: you don’t even realize you’re networking! You are all just there to have fun and enjoy the week. It never feels forced or awkward, as some networking events can tend to be.

4.It’s Unlike any Other Event

An “air show” by the classic definition would include unique airplanes doing stunts and wowing the crowd. However, AirVenture is so much more than just an air show. They call it an aviation celebration because there is no better way to describe all that happens. You are able to pick and choose from hundreds of ways to spend your time. If you want a relaxed day at the museum, take a free tram over there and spend the day indoors. If you want an unforgettable airplane ride in a B-17 or Ford Tri-Motor, go ahead and do it! There’s international food, games, and so many ways to customize the week to your desires.

5. It’s FUN

Starting with the opening night concert featuring Barenaked Ladies, AirVenture is determined to have every single attendee have a great time. Air shows featured throughout the day will amaze even the most experienced pilot. At night, the Fly-In Theater is scheduled to play several popular movies, including Sully and Rogue One. Although it can be exhausting trying to see everything you want in one day, it is worth every second and you will leave with unforgettable memories.

What is your favorite part of Oshkosh? Are you attending this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Flying | Tori Williams | Vintage Aircraft

A Few of My Favorite Warbirds

by Lydia Wiff 30. April 2016 08:00
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In the distance you hear a deep hum – as it gets closer, you see a gleaming aircraft appear on the horizon and suddenly you break out in goose bumps as a gleaming vintage World War II (WWII) aircraft passes over you at top speed.  Maybe I’m the only one that gets giddy when I hear those old war birds, or maybe there are more out there that can barely contain themselves when old aircraft come to life once again.  Today, I’ll list my three favorite warbirds from WWII along with a little history about their important role in our history.


#1: The B-29 Superfortress

Quite possibly the hardest-working aircraft ever designed in WWII, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was designed in response to a request from the United States Army Air Corps for a pressurized, long-range, bomber aircraft.  Clocking out at over 350 miles per hour (mph) in cruise, the Superfortress could attain altitudes at over 30,000 feet with a wingspan at over 140 feet long. 

The Superfortress also came equipped with four, remotely controlled turrets – the General Electric Central Fire Control System.  Among the first of its kind, these turrets were controlled via analog electrical instrumentation.  Additionally, the B-29 was the first fully-pressurized bomber aircraft providing safety and comfort for its crew.  Almost 4,000 of these “super bombers” were built by Boeing to aid in the war effort.

Today, only 22 B-29s are in existence with one still flying which you may have seen at places such as AirVenture in Oshokosh, WI – this B-29 is affectionately dubbed “Fifi”.


#2: The P-51 Mustang

Next up we have the P-51 Mustang.  This gleaming gem was used as a long-range, single-pilot fighter, and a fighter-bomber during WWII, the Korean War and various other conflicts.  Designed in 1940 by the American company, North American Aviation, it was in response to the licensing requirements of the British Purchasing Commission. 

First flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Mustang was used as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and a fighter-bomber.  Due to the Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51B/C model, the fighter could perform at altitudes above 15,000 feet allowing it to match or better the Luftwaffe’s fighters – I wonder what they did for oxygen up there?


Not limited to just Europe, the P-51 was flown in many conflicts including the North African, Mediterranean, and Italian theaters and was used in the Pacific War against the Japanese.  During the Korean War, it was used as the main fighter aircraft until jet aircraft took over that role with the advent of new technology.  Despite the new technology, the Mustang was used until the early 1980s in conflicts. 

Now, these amazing fighters are owned by private collectors, on display in museums, and still flown in many airshows all over the country.  It just goes to show one that after even 50 years, this amazing aircraft still exists – what a testament to American engineering!


#3: The B-25 Mitchell

Dubbed the “Mitchell Bomber” after Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, the B-25 is another bomber that served in every theater of WWII in addition to remaining in service which spanned four decades.  With nearly 10,000 of these twin-engine bombers built, like many other aircraft, this design came at the request of the Army Air Corps.

Going up against other aircraft manufacturers such as Douglas, North American Aircraft (NAA) went on to design the most military aircraft in United States history.  NAA was also the only company to simultaneously produced bombers, fighters, and trainers.  Among some of the most notable missions the Mitchell flew was the “Doolittle Raid” in 1942 led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle on the mainland of Japan four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Over the years, the B-25 had a few variants in design that included equipment for de-icing, anti-icing, and gunship modifications making it a versatile war-time platform.  The B-25 proved to be a formidable airframe and was used around the world for war-time activities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. 


And Your Favorites Are?

While many of these aircraft were designed to subdue our enemies overseas, I can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of American aerospace engineers and the sheer beauty of these aircraft.  My favorite part about being in Oshkosh for AirVenture is watching the reenactment of the Doolittle Raid and the tributes to aerospace egineers, not to mention all the privately restored warbirds on display.

So, what’s your favorite warbird?

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Aviation History | Lydia Wiff | Vintage Aircraft



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