Choppers And Warthogs And Boats, Oh My!
Pt. 2 By David Juwel
Too much for one day, here are more of David's observations from
the Fly-In and Air Show in Lakeland last month.
Did you notice the beautiful Jet Exec in Choppertown? "Blue
Thunder" has an awesome paint job, plenty of power, extreme
maneuverability, and it's the envy of any bird flying. Absolutely
first class. Problem was, nobody knew who owned it, or where he
was. Even the Rotorway people didn't seem to know who owned it.
Hmmm. Strange. Oh well, if it's not owned by anybody, maybe I
should just take it home with me. Actually, checking the FAA
records, it is owned by Matthew Haasen. Great build, Matt.
I've been down to Choppertown in years past where every now and
then someone might fly. Not this year! If you went down there, you
probably couldn't miss the gyroplanes flying. You
could hardly keep them out of the air. They were constantly flying
close patterns and making numerous touch-n-go landings. Funny thing
about gyroplane pilots, they can't seem to wait to get in the air.
Then they beat the air to death mercilessly, and talk it to death
when they land. Yah got to love them. They're pure aviators. The
Dominator, Butterfly and Sport Copter were the culprits.
Did you notice the big X on the main taxiway? It is a lighted
closure marking used for closing runways to any aircraft
operations. They were using this runway for static displays, so
there is a marker at each end. It means stop, don't land, don't
take-off, don't use! Notice the Pircairn Autogiro to the left of
On Friday, you may have missed the fact that one of the Thunderbird solo jets disappeared in
the middle of their show. I watched it climb to altitude and head
out. Their show stopped for a few minutes and then resumed.
Probably a safety divert. The show finished with five planes
instead of six. Glad to see that safety is foremost. That's what
makes them so professional.
You might have missed seeing the tactical operator positions
onboard the big Customs P-3 aircraft (the one with the big radome
on it). But if you're in the air or on the water, they won't miss
you! See that scope? They have several of them on board. The plane
is used for aircraft intercept and maritime patrol. They can track
thousands of targets, and control multiple simultaneous intercepts
with each sweep of the radar, which covers over six million cubic
miles. If you're smuggling, they'll make friends with you real
quick. If you're struggling, they can coordinate air/sea rescue for
you. Everything moving in the air, or on the water within that
area, is under their scrutiny. The Customs & Border Patrol
division of Homeland Security operates it. We're thankful for the
work they do protecting our borders from terrorists and drugs.
They're a great group of people.
If you didn't look quick, you might have missed Julie Clark
flying her airplane full bore out of her trailer (just
kidding). Hey Zoom, Julie said hello. Classy lady. Great stick.
You may have missed the difference between the nose art on the
A-10's that were parked on the warbird flight line. One has a shark
on the nose and the other two have warthogs on their nose.
difference? The shark nosed A-10 is from Moody AFB,
and it belongs to the 23rd Fighter Group. The 23rd FG has a rich
and illustrious history. The Group traces its roots back to the
23rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor), constituted at Langley Field, VA,
17 December 1941, just 10 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor. Today, the 23rd FG carries on the tradition of the first
and foremost Flying Tiger, Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault. As such,
they are now the only Air Force unit authorized to display the
shark on their nose. I wouldn't want to tangle with either shark or
warthog. That 30MM Gatling gun in the nose shoots 3900 rounds a
You may have missed the cockpit of this grand old lady. It
belongs to a DC-3, operated by the FAA for flight inspections. Born in
1945, N34 has been in government service her entire life. At age
65, she's still serving the public and keeping us safe. She
is one of only two moveable items on the National Register of
Historic Places. The other is San Francisco's famed cable cars.
You may have missed the cargo aircraft heritage flight. A
reciprocating engine Army Caribou flying in formation with an Air
Force C-17 Globemaster III. What a sight! I'm only guessing, but I
suspect the formation speed was around 150 knots, which is nearly
the cruise speed of the Caribou. 115 knots is the C-17's approach
speed, so 150 knots would have worked for both of them. There's at
least 22 years of history between the two designs.
You may have missed the hands-on engine display at the Lockwood
Aviation Supply booth. Each Rotax engine being
displayed was on a 360 swivel. You could rotate it, look at
it, touch it, and closely examine any component of the engine. And
they were right on the front counter where you could easily get at
them. Now if I could just slide that engine under my coat. Oops.
Sorry. A very impressive display, and an excellent sales technique.
Good job, Lockwood Aviation.
Meanwhile, from the ANN staff, we'll add one of our own. You
might have missed this unusual-looking homebuilt amphibian, looking
perfectly at home near a Florida swamp. The sign on the airplane
said it is the Sunshine Clipper Amphibian Biplane ... a
one-of-a-kind, ameteur-built, novelty-hull amphibian. She'll cruise
at 58 mph on her C-85 engine, and yes that is a plastic lawn chair
for a pilots' seat. (Tom Patton, News Editor)