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Fun Down on The Farm

By Dan Grunloh, Editor, Light Plane World

Dan Grunloh

We had a great time at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, down on “The Farm” in the ultralight/light plane area. You can see in the picture that I earned my traditional “cow hat.” This unique trademark symbol can’t be purchased anywhere at AirVenture. It’s available only to ultralight/light plane area pilots and volunteers, and the symbol makes it easy for us to find each other anywhere across the vast convention grounds. Look for the hat. It was a fun week due to the excellent flying weather and a good turnout. My thanks to everyone who stopped to tell me how much you liked reading Light Plane World. The pilots and the commercial vendors also deserve thanks for specific reasons, and one group deserves an apology.

My own flight up to Oshkosh of five hours flying time was very enjoyable, and I had excellent weather if you don’t count headwinds, low ceilings, and mild turbulence. The last stop at Dodge County Airport in Juneau, Wisconsin, was jam-packed with airplanes as AirVenture was still closed to arrivals due to flooding. A phone call confirmed the ultralight runway was open. Readmore

When I arrived in the circuit on the evening of day one, it was eerie. There were no planes in the sky anywhere, except for a distant pair of departing P-51s. After landing, I was delighted to find a lot of aircraft already in place at the ultralight/light plane area. All those years of flying from our inconveniently sloped runway paid off to make flying possible for us in 2010.

Those of you who have never flown the ultralight circuit should attend one of the 6:30 a.m. briefings. Shifting campgrounds due to flooding added even more turns in a flying circuit with about six already. To newcomers, the “lone oak tree” turning point is just another hard-to-find green blob, and novices are distracted by an approach that puts the runway out of sight for a short time. In the early days of ultralights, it was challenging to fly in the swarm of buzzing craft we would launch. But they mostly flew the same slow airspeed. Today’s newcomers must contend with a wide speed range of planes in a strict flying pattern where transgressions can get us all spanked. But we’re the lucky ones because we get to fly all week everyday (even twice a day) while most pilots at AirVenture are effectively grounded. It’s a lot of fun, and I thank every pilot there for a safe week of flying. You’ve all successfully graduated from the higher university of light flying.

Thanks also to our commercial vendors who displayed their aircraft and products down on The Farm. Many of these folks are heroes for sticking with the light side of aviation when times are slow. For some it’s mostly the love of aviation that keeps them going when their business begins to look like a very expensive hobby. Many know and recognize that low-cost flying will always have a universal appeal. So thanks, vendors, and keep coming back.

One very hard-working person deserves special thanks. I want to thank Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, for bringing this month’s Light Plane World readers all the latest news from the LSA world. Read thearticle in our Green Acres section and visit his website.

Over a couple of decades of attending AirVenture, I’ve seen a lot of airplanes, worked in various volunteer areas, and met many people. Unfortunately I haven’t remembered everyone’s name. I wish you all had nametags. I apologize to you all for past, present, and future times when I draw a blank. I’m reminded what wiser folks than me have said about the linkage between people and airplanes. It’s natural to focus on the nuts, bolts, and hardware of aviation, but the bigger story is in the people and their interaction with the aircraft. Don’t let your photo albums of fly-ins be simply pictures of airplanes. As always, you can contact me at LightPlaneWorld@EAA.org

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