As a Boeing shareholder I tend to wrinkle my nose at the mention of
"Airbus." (Of course when a tailplane snaps off I am most interested!). But let
me tell some of my impressions of this year's Oshkosh Airventure and the 380.
The 380: very impressive to see in real life. This one was not fitted out
commercially but had test instrumentation and water ballast tanks for
changing CG. So it was light. That baby could turn in the sky as tight as some
jet fighters it seemed. Several times I thought it would finish up over the
crowd but it never did and the bank angle never got extreme. Amazing! And it
was VERY quiet even at full thrust climb. 737's are louder. When it landed
it stopped before the parking turnoff at show center (good thing too
because there was no space to turn 'round. When it departed Fri. afternoon for
MKE it hadda be pushed by tug allaway down to the end of the runway). The
tour lines were nearly 2 hrs. long so I didn't bother.
WK2 (aka White Knight 2): also very impressive and very quiet. I'd like to
know the engineering behind the center wing. It seems like the flexing of
the two fuselages could make it snap apart tho it was said that IF it did,
the two sides would continue to fly. On a close up look I noted that the
windows on the port fuselage were only painted on in flat black except for the
front windscreen which I did not observe closely. Perhaps the port side is
a dummy. The aircraft lifts with a pretty short roll and can really make a
STEEP climbout, which is helpful with a proposed 50,000 ft. rocket launch
altitude. Burt said the rocket (which did not attend)has 9 seats but that
the ride tickets were so expensive that it seemed unwise to sell the middle
John Monnett had one of his birds with electric power as a crowd gatherer
last year and there was more electric interest at the show this year, but
his inspiration this time was one of his striking yellow V-tailers powered by
a dorsal mounted small jet which some of the deep pocket radio control
crowd are using. I didn't see it fly.
S-51: Near the overflowing RV "corral" was a P-51 clone which I think was
an 80% scale Stewart version... as real looking as the Titan T-51. I nearly
swallowed my tongue when I realized that the slightly longer nose hid a
turbo prop engine! Yikes! The prop tag wasn't easy to read but I saw 240mph as
a cruise speed. It looked great with a blue nose and polished aluminum
with the required military markings.
In spite of our economic woes, it didn't seem like Oshkosh was affected.
Several vendors were murmuring almost in wonder at the high volume of buyer
traffic, the crowd seemed large to me and the spam cans were parked way the
hell down past the ultralites almost to the boundry road south of the
airport. 50 more planes woulda filled it. I heard showplane numbers were at or
just above record.
Weather was excellent. Mostly blue skies and a few puffy clouds, night
temps in the high 50's, morniings in the lo 70's climbing into the low 80's in
the afternoons. Two partial days of meandering showers were quickly soaked
up by the dry ground and never got close to quagmire stage... and didn't
much dampen crowd activity.
For a guy who stays at the UWO dorms which can get unbearably hot by
sleepy-time, this was a most pleasant experience.
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