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Mon, May 03, 2010

Things You Might Have Missed At Lakeland -- Part Deux

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 it.

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.

Why the 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 minute.

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)



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