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Just for Fun: Chapter Leaders From Around the Nation Attend EAA Skiplane Fly-In
By Brett Hahn, EAA 647675, Manager - EAA Chapter Network
February 11, 2016 - How did we convince EAA chapter leaders from around the nation to give up their valuable time to fly and drive up to cold, snow-covered Wisconsin in the dead of winter to attend an EAA Chapter Leadership Academy?
Easy—we offered them a chance to see airplanes sliding on snow and eat hot chili!
Thirty-two chapter leaders from Michigan, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Oregon, Indiana, California, and Utah came together February 3-6 for the first EAA Chapter Leadership Academy of 2016. Many drove up to Oshkosh and were chased by a snowstorm that dropped 6 inches of fresh powder, just in time for the annual EAA Skiplane Fly-In. The Skiplane Fly-In was originally a fly-in/birthday bash for Paul Poberezny’s wife Audrey.
The Chapter Leadership Academy was quite special this year, it was kicked off by an hour-long opening session with new EAA CEO Jack Pelton, who discussed many programs in detail and talked about the future of EAA with chapter leaders.
Pelton took and answered all the attendees’ questions and then shared his personal story of becoming involved with EAA. Pelton is a real stick and rudder pilot, he and his wife Rose own several taildraggers; it was clear to me he lives and breathes aviation and EAA.
Longtime docent Bob Havens gave the group an outstanding behind the ropes EAA AirVenture Museum tour Thursday evening that included exclusive stories and a chance to sit in the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (a twin engine bomber), the North American P-64, and Poberezny’s P-51 Mustang.
Saturday’s weather was pretty good (by Oshkosh standards), with overcast skies, temps in the mid-20s and a 6 knot left crosswind for the approach to Pioneer Airport. Skiplanes started forming up and arriving about 9:30 a.m.
Crabbing on final to counter the crosswind, the skiplanes kicked it straight as they passed into the lee of the museum and settled down into the powdery snow. Taxiing with partial power to overcome the snow’s friction, they threw beautiful rooster-tails of snow spiraling around in the prop wash. Some had no ski on their tailwheel and used forward control stick to lessen the tail weight, skipping the tail wheel gently over the snow.
By 10:30 a.m., 35 skiplanes had touched down. EAA’s fly-in volunteers marshalled and parked them on the “snow ramp” spanning from the Ryan Flying Company hangar all the way east to the EAA Academy lodge.
EAA invited pilots, passengers and the 1,400 visitors into a warm hangar and served up hot coco and spicy chili. Visitors shared a meal with a pilot or two, while wide-eyed giggly kids cruised around in yellow T-6 Texan pedal planes.
By 1:30 p.m. the roar of engines took center stage as a gaggle of skiplanes taxied out nose-to-tail and departed for their home base.
Then they were all gone, it was quiet. A cutting cold breeze met me as I walked around the empty snow ramp. I recognized the familiar pattern of trampled grass around a parked airplane. But this day it was packed-down snow, and ski tracks trailing off into the distance. At the edge of the snow ramp a child’s snow angel was left unspoiled.
I hope you can join us next year!