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Skiplane Lovers Flock to Fly-In

January 27, 2009 — With several feet of snow on the ground, temperatures outside hovering on either side of zero Fahrenheit (and a steady breeze making it feel like minus-20), what could possibly motivate several hundred people to venture outside?

Here’s a clue: they’re aviation enthusiasts, it was Saturday, January 24, and the annual EAA Skiplane Fly-In was happening at Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh. Twenty-seven skiplanes of various types flew in on the severe clear day, including J-3 Cubs, Aeroncas, Bellancas, Maules, Cessnas, Taylorcraft, Champs, a Luscombe, a Piper PA 20, a homebuilt Blanton V6-Stol, and others. Points of origin included several from within Wisconsin, but also Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. One airplane, a Bonanza flown by Lynn Larkin and Hal McCroy, came all the way from Tennessee. The pair landed at Wittman Field and shuttled to Pioneer from the FBO.

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For another attendee, the day provided a couple of firsts: Bill Hooten, EAA 485194, drove nearly 900 miles to Oshkosh from his home In Greenbrier, Arkansas. “This is the first time I’ve ever attended the skiplane fly-in," said a bundled-up Hooten, who added, “In my 53 years, I’ve never been in negative temperatures. So yeah, this is different.”

Bill volunteers as a crew chief on EAA’s B-17 tour and also during AirVenture. He’s built a Sonex, owns a 1941 Cub, is an A&P mechanic with inspection authorization (IA) plus is a designated mechanic examiner (DME). “I just made up my mind this year to come,” Bill said. “ This is great. This is family to me.”

Thanks to the volunteers who cooked up plenty of hearty chili and chicken soup to warm bodies and souls. For dessert there were three decorated cakes in honor of Audrey Poberezny’s birthday. One other noteworthy occasion takes place this week: the 56th anniversary of the first meeting of the Experimental Aircraft Association, which took place on January 26, 1953.

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