Return from AirVenture 2011; FOD Re-Revisited

FOD and I are back from AirVenture Oshkosh 2011. The washing machine and dryer are humming away upstairs. The camping equipment is drying out on the porch. The memory cards are hemorrhaging their content onto several hard drives. The Airspeed crew vehicle still bears such dust and mud as has been able to stick to the vehicle over the course of the nine-hour drive yesterday.

This is the third year that we’ve hit the Russell Military Museum on the way to and/or from Oshkosh. And we’ve taken a picture of FOD outside the gas station at Exit 1A each year, obscuring one of the Os in “FOOD” to make “FOD.”

Airspeed correspondent Ron Klutts and photographer extraordinaire Jo Hunter got up for a flight in the new Remos model and I’ll have some content up from that ride shortly.

In the meantime, it’s now all about getting ready for principal photography for Acro Camp 2 at Ray Community Airport. It’s less than 30 days away and the real work begins now.

Look for maybe one more Airspeed episode before Acro Camp and possible some additional pictures and other content. And then there’ll be a content blitz during the actual camp!

My Movie Ate My Podcast! – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here: Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

By way of getting some content up into the feed, I though it might be a good time to sit down with Will Hawkins, director of A Pilot’s Story and talk about both his film and my film, Acro Camp. We’re each coming down to the final stages of editing our respective films and this conversation turned into a good discussion of what independent filmmaking is and can be. Especially when it’s independent filmmaking about aviation!

Check out A Pilot’s Story at Check out Will and Rico’s production company at

And, of course, follow progress on the Acro Camp films at!

Technical note: The mic on my headset didn’t connect properly, so my voice is being picked up by the built-in mic on my Mac. Not the best audio quality, but a good conversation nevertheless.


Firebase Airspeed – OSH 2011

It’s Friday here at Oshkosh and FOD and I have checked off several of our traditional activities. Most important is the annual Bell 47 helicopter ride from Pioneer Airport. This is FOD’s fifth AirVenture. I first brought him when he was five.

We like to get an aerial shot of the campground each year and mark the campsite in a photo like this. We’re again camping with the myTransponder crew and lots of other social media mavens from both hemispheres. I’m very grateful again this year to have access to Home Sweet Road, myTransponder’s Class A motor home, which is providing the electricity to power the laptop for this post and the air conditioning that makes conscious thought possible. We’re at Lindbergh and 48th this year, kitty-corner from the WiFi hut. If you’re so inclined, please stop by and say hello!

Oshkosh Arrival; T-6B Texan II

We arrived yesterday at Oshkosh and hooked up with the myTransponder crew at Lindbergh and 48th. Thunderstorms and rain kept the skies pretty low and gray most of the day and the shooting was iffy at best. But that’s the beauty of Oshkosh. There’s something to do no matter the conditions. So I went strolling in the static area.

It’s not as though there aren’t a load of really fast and pointy aircraft on the ramp. There’s even a 9th RW T-38A from Beale. But I remain a sucker for the T-6 Texan II.

The copy on ramp yesterday was a B-model in the unmistakable Navy yellow. The Navy uses it for for Primary and Intermediate Joint Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training. It’s also a B model, which I hadn’t yet had the chance to see up close.

The airframe and powerplant are essentially the same as those in the T-6A. A Pratt & Whitney PT-6A-68 engine, downrated to 1,100 hp, provides all of the power you’ll need for maneuvering and the straightforward flying characteristics provide a platform that makes pilots out of pedestrians. The T-6A and B are both essentially Pilatus PC-9s with Martin-Baker ejection seats.

Lt Col Tom Priest is the Operations Officer at Training Wing Five at NAS Whiting Field in Florida. He brought the aircraft to OSH and was taking questions from the crowd. I asked him about the difference that make the B model what it is. A quick hop up onto the wing made it all pretty clear. Where the A model has an overwhelmingly round-gage cockpit, the B model is wall-to-wall glass.

Lt Col Priest says that the glass makes sense because most of the destination platforms for NFO trainees are either glass now or will be soon. The only downside of the automation of avionics and flight systems appears to affect NFO trainees who go on to helicopter platforms, where that automation is either not available in the airframe or of a kind that doesn’t really lend itself to automation in the first place. Just as we’re seeing in the GA fleet, glass is taking over cockpits.

There’s nothing wrong with anything else on the ramp. But I just keep coming back to the T-6A/B. It’s a go-kart in the sky that makes military pilots. It’s a blast to fly in the lower parts of the MOA and it has better power and performance than the Air Force had with the T-37 Tweet or the Navy’s T-34C Mentor. I look back very fondly on the 1.4 hours I got to log with the 559th FTS at Randolph AFB. And I’d climb back into one of these airframes any time.

If you’re headed for NFO/UPT, I envy you. You have a spectacular airframe to look forward to. Especially if it’s yellow like this one!

Shooting the MacGyver Six – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here: Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

Many of us are used to the aircraft that we regularly fly. We know how the engine sounds during all phases of flight. We know where all the gages are. We know what kind of control pressures to expect. We know how all of the avionics work. And there’s a lot to be said about being familiar with your aircraft. You’re safer and more competent that way.

But sometimes it’s a good idea to break out of the familiar and go stretch the envelope a little. And not necessarily by flying upside down or pulling Gs. Anyone who’s listened to Airspeed for very long knows that I have an ongoing love of a certain Cessna 152, tail number N94891. Almost 10 years ago, I flew 891 on my first solo from Runway 5L at Willow Run Airport (KYIP) in southeast Michigan. 891 lives at Solo Aviation at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (KARB) now. Two years ago, I tracked her down and got up with an instructor to get checked out in her. I did it mostly for the nostalgia of it. [Read more...]