One of our instructors, Madi, had an unforgettable experience as she embarked on a thrilling journey to the largest aviation event in the world! And she documented it all on our Facebook page.

Besides being surrounded by an abundance of aviation marvels, the event was a melting pot of cultures, as aviation enthusiasts from all corners of the globe gathered to share their love for flight.

Read all about her adventures in Oshkosh, Wisconsin:

Let the fun begin:

“Hi! I’m Madi, an instructor at Aviation Academy. Last week, I attended EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI the largest aviation gathering in the world! I’m thrilled to share some incredible things in aviation with you from last week, including wonderful advancements in safety, technology, and aerospace.

Let’s start at day one of OSH, I’ll share about the Fisk Arrival, which is how several thousand aircraft enter into Wittman Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during this event.

The VFR route is the most well-known way of flying into the airshow. The details of this arrival are contained in a 36-page notice that pilots must follow in order for operations to be successful.

Four controllers are set up in a mobile camper in the town of Fisk, where they visually separate aircraft convening at the fix. They ensure they all maintain adequate separation, are following the rules of the arrival, and assign a runway to each plane on a monitor-only frequency. This is where the phrase “rock your wings” is used. Pilots will do this instead of answering on the radio, due to the sheer volume of planes in the area.

Once switched to the Tower frequency, pilots are given clearance to land on a colored dot that is painted on the runways, i.e. “red Stinson, you are cleared to land, green dot.” The pilot must make a precision landing on their assigned dot, or they must go around for resequencing. There are directions for each approach and each dot.

Once a plane lands, they must exit promptly onto the grass next to the runway for parking with the controller saying “Welcome to Oshkosh!” There are other entries, such as the ones for airplanes with no radios, ultralights, warbirds, helicopters, and airplanes on IFR flight plans, but the Fisk arrival is one of legend.”

Why do performance charts matter?

“After speaking with a flight engineer on NASA’s Super Guppy last week, the importance of these calculations cannot be overstated.

Background: The Super Guppy, a French-built, bulbous cargo aircraft, has a very special job: transporting parts for NASA’s space missions to their destinations around the United States. Built-in 1983 on a 1946 airframe, this aircraft fits well into the “legacy” category. The lack of hydraulics means the pilot must fly with both hands, as all the flight controls are deflected via cables and pulleys (similar to a 172).

The flight engineer, a position that is defunct in most airliners nowadays, has a difficult and demanding job. Not only must he or she monitor engine and system gauges in this aircraft, but the throttles as well. To add, the FE must calculate performance for each phase of flight *by hand*, since there are neither computers onboard nor digital charts for the unique flight profiles of the Guppy. The books the FE displayed included takeoff roll, several phases of climb, cruise, service ceiling, and so much more.

The Super Guppy often flies at the edge of its envelope, and therefore requires precision in performance calculations. If the FE is sloppy or uses incorrect numbers, it could mean the demise of this vintage marvel. Each chart is held in one of two large 3-ring binders; no laughing matter!

Performance calculations are important for general aviation as well. Although we generally don’t fly with fifty thousand pounds of payload, the level of planning and precision of the Super Guppy FEs should be inspiring to us as pilots and should drive us to improve. If you know your airplane and how it will perform, you are well on your way to being a safe, knowledgeable pilot.”

Be smart, fly safe!

“Wednesday at AirVenture began with a bang, as a severe thunderstorm rolled through just after 0600. Despite the mud, it was a beautiful day.

During the day air show, the F-16 demonstration team performed a simulated intercept with a Beechcraft Baron. Since interceptions aren’t often discussed in great detail, I recorded the demo and will discuss what occured and what you can do to mitigate the chance of this happening to you.

If a pilot flies in an area in which they do not belong (TFR, Restricted area, military airspace, etc), a jet will be scrambled and sent to retrieve the offending aircraft. The fighter will slow and fly alongside the aircraft (part 1 of video). The fighter pilot will rock the jet’s wings. The proper response to this is to rock one’s own wings. ATC will be attempting to raise the pilot and the fighter will try to communicate on Guard (121.5). The fighter will then break and the offending aircraft is expected to follow it to the nearest suitable airport.

If there is no response, the jet will come back around for a second pass (part 2 of video), this time on the opposite side. The fighter will rock its wings once again and also set off flares to attempt to get the pilot’s attention. In a last-ditch effort, the fighter will increase power and turn directly in front of the aircraft, turning to the desired direction of flight. What happens if a pilot doesn’t respond to that, well…. It won’t be good for them.

How do you avoid this? Make sure your charts are updated. This is a common problem with an easy fix. Furthermore, use your charts during flight and know of potential hot areas along your route before you fly. Check for TFRs and active MOAs/Restricted areas around your proposed route of flight. Get flight following from ATC, as they may graciously deviate you, or at least be a quick point of contact in case you bust airspace.”

See video here.

A Rotorcraft of a Different Feather: The Gyroplane

“There is a type of ultralight that is gaining popularity after being overlooked for decades. It’s called a gyroplane, colloquially known also by “gyrocopter” or “autogiro”, and it is a truly unique aircraft. This machine can be open or closed cockpit and consists of a free, tilting rotor on top for lift and a pusher engine on the back for thrust. Per regulations, they seat one pilot and some can reach speeds of over 150 knots.

Gyroplanes were invented back in the 1940s, but never gained much popularity due to their seemingly fickle flight characteristics. Though they would hover, any forward flight would result in a rollover. Two important things were discovered: one, like helicopters, the rotor must be able to tilt in order to maintain an even production of lift, making forward flight possible, and two, if the rotor is not moving fast enough and the airspeed of the gyroplane is too low, the rotor could stall when out of ground effect.

Unlike a helicopter, where air is sucked in from the top and forced downwards while the engine is running, a gyroplane’s rotor has no engine attached to it and is in a constant state of autorotation, which means air is being pulled up (something that is attempted with a helicopter if the powerplant fails in order to glide). This means the gyroplane will glide to the ground in the event of a powerplant failure.

Gyroplanes by nature are economical, making them incredibly popular in Europe. They are often able to travel several hundred miles on one tank of gas. Their cruise speeds often rival training aircraft at around 90 knots. Their biggest advantage has to be that they are in the Rotorcraft category. This allows helicopter pilot students to learn and build time in a gyroplane and transition to helicopter to proficiency. Generally, helicopters start at $400/hr, whereas gyroplanes are roughly $100/hr or less to operate. This can drastically reduce the cost of helicopter ratings!

I know a gentleman who earned through gyroplane CFI in a cumulative 10 days and spent 6 months building his own gyro from a kit. He flew it from Minneapolis to Oshkosh in 5 hours, including stops! I got to see it in person at AirVenture (pictured is a similar model) and it has more sophisticated avionics than many general aviation airplanes! EAA AirVenture is a great place to explore the more unique and rare aspects of aviation. I had a grand time learning about gyroplanes, and I hope you did too.”

Flying History for the Next Generation: Lockheed Constellation “Bataan”

“One of the amazing things about EAA AirVenture is that it supports and showcases aircraft that would otherwise be lost to history. I had the privilege of seeing a very special Lockheed Constellation that had its first flight after being completely restored in June of this year. It probably looks better than it did when it rolled off the production line in 1949!

This aircraft started its life in the Air Force during the beginning of the Cold War. Once the Korean War began, this Connie, number 613, became the official transport/mobile command post of General Douglas MacArthur. After 17 flights in Korea, the General was retired. Number 613, which MacArthur named “Bataan”, was removed from service in 1966, along with the other C-121 Constellations.

This Connie was one of three that were given to NASA for their Apollo Space Program and was named NASA 422. Once the program ended, it was parked at a museum in Alabama, where it sat in the elements for over two decades. Another museum in California offered a helicopter in trade for it in 1993, and the Connie was restored to airworthy status. Unfortunately, the air show circuit was cut short after a year, when operational costs were beyond what the museum could handle. Thus, Number 613 sat again.

Thankfully, a well-known aircraft collector purchased the Connie in 2015 and had it completely restored. He was quoted as saying it was as difficult as restoring “10 or 15 Mustangs” but that it was all worth it to see the historic aircraft fly again. After over 70 years, Constellation Bataan again wears her colors and is gracing the skies.

An important part of understanding our past is keeping what we can alive and available for the next generation. The superior craftsmanship and passion that covers every square inch of this airplane cannot be understated. Keep ‘Em Flying!

Pictures: a side view of Bataan and the most immaculate landing gear I have ever seen.”


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