Thursday, November 12, 2009

B'burg Happenings

21Y and I managed to stay on the ground long enough for me to eat and say hi to a few folks from my airport back home. I felt that familiar itch and knew I'd regret it if I didn't go, so I headed back to the airplane. Todd remarked it was a nice evening and so he came along. We didn't go anything special, just tooled around low and slow, exploring the area around Antique Airfield. I found out Iowa's not nearly as flat as everyone makes it out to be, and even though I had gone to Blakesburg last year, I didn't remember there being as much terrain (maybe that's why I don't fly high . . . can't see where I'm going!).

Sunday morning meant departures for many, but thankfully for me, a fair number were thwarted by fog. That meant A) no unexpected wake up calls, and B) I got to see more airplanes! The ritual walk from the camping area/shower house to the HyVee food stand also meant observing a number of airplanes, and a house I would probably sacrifice some minor appendages for--but only if the lawn ornament comes with! ; )

You see why I'm interested ; )

You son of a Beech! Probably one of the coolest flybys of the weekend!

A purty Lockheed 12 . . . is this the one that was in Amelia?

The "his" half of the his 'n' hers Luscombes

"Hers," and a beautiful one at that!

An adorable Cub with wheelpants, handmade by its owner. I also believe this one is a fairly close relative to 21Y, but I'd have to look up 21Y's original number/serial number.

This is one of the coolest pictures to come out of the fly-in . . . doesn't that just sum it all up?

Now here's a story . . . allow me to elaborate!

Back in Lock Haven, one of the first people to greet me was Les Gaskill, who started off with "I need to take a picture of this . . . a girl in a Cub!" Some time later at Sentimental Journey, I mentioned something about a J2 that was giving rides all weekend at Blakesburg and how I wanted one. Turns out that's Les' airplane! He had flown a friend's PA-11 up (one of the featured airplanes in 2009) but said if he saw me again we'd have to go J2 flying.

Les always brings his J2 and J-3 to Blakesburg, and 2009 was no exception. Feeling every bit a mooch, but recognizing my college student lack of conscience, I patrolled near the J2 regularly. I ran into Les a few times and he again said we'd have to go J2 flying. One evening I noticed him untying the J2 and, tossing my conscience by the wayside, went over to conveniently strike up a conversation. Les told me he was giving a young boy a ride but to hang around so we could go. COOL!

I stayed around a few moments longer to hold the plane while Les propped it, but the A-40 wasn't about to take the J2 off roaring into the sunset. In fact, one of the coolest things was the "engine under water" sound of the A-40 . . . bloop, bloop . . . bloop, bloop.

Of course I followed the J2 back towards the runway like a puppy dog following a hamburger, and set up camp to watch some of the flying. Les told me I could take it out for a bit, which made my eyes get big. I explained I had never flown one and didn't want to break anything. He shrugged and said I'd probably be ok but we'd go out together nonetheless.

The J2 is, hands-down, one of the coolest little old airplanes out there. For some reason I love the three-piece windshield, the oddly slanted panel, the open sides, even the sickly rate of climb. The J2 takes all the purity of a J-3 and further distills it, removing even more of the insulation against the world, taking out the intercom and everything. You cannot deny the cool factor of floating along slowly over rolling countryside, serenaded by the blat blat of the diminutive A-40 up front. Some times we went so slow I think I felt a crosswind through the cockpit. But it didn't matter--life was good!

I found the lighter J2 floats a lot more than 21Y, requiring a go-around, but the second try wasn't bad, though Les commented I got a little slow. Then he tossed out an awesome offer--"If you're at Lock Haven next year and I bring this, you can go out solo."

As if I needed more motivation to make it back to Lock Haven!

See, see!! Les doesn't even look terrified after my landing! (He did the takeoff)

There is something awesome about small fly-ins like Blakesburg. They have an intangible quality with a life all its own--either it's there or it's not, and no conscious efforts to construct it succeed. It's pure fun, and that's about all anyone can say about it.

I have to share 21Y's card, because I was somewhat proud of my perceived cleverness.

Owner: Steve and Sharon Krog, flown by Amy Gesch
Address: Hartford State: Wisconsin
Airplane Type: Piper J-3 Cub Year: 1938 N Number: 9721Y
Engine: A-65 Horsepower: 65 on a good day Cruise Speed: 78, maybe
Gal. Per Hour (Cruising): 4.5-5.0 Gross Weight: 1220 Empty Weight: ~750 (never ask a lady how much she weighs!)
Notes of Interest to AAA Members:
~2-Ply Award Winner, MAAC 2008
~Flew to Lock Haven, PA for Sentimental Journey 2009
~Kidnapped by Amy, taken to Mankato, MN for 3 wks (darn students!)
~Spot landing contest winner, Sentimental Journey 2009
~Former flour bombing champion
~Cover model for 2010 EAA calendar (the airplane, that is!)
~Featured on Canon USA's "Lens of the Month" site (17-40L lens)
~Flown on poker run by Amy and Leah Jones, former Piper ferry pilot
~Working airplane! Flies regularly as flight school's trainer

Little 21Y has quite a list of accomplishments for only having been flying 51 weeks at the time of Blakesburg!

Yup, she's my favorite : )

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