Saturday, February 21, 2009

February's Plane Crazy Saturday

The February edition of the Mojave Transportation Museum's Plane Crazy Saturday attracted 53 aircraft of all shapes, sizes and speeds, and well over a hundred visitors who delighted in the opportunity to wander amongst the planes and chat with the owners and pilots. 

The featured aircraft this month was Joann Painter's Myers Little Toot. The plane was once owned by NASA test pilot Fitz Fulton, and Joann's husband Wen, also a NASA flight test engineer, bought it from Fitz and gave it to her for Christmas! Once upon a time, the local airfield was a place where people could hang out - old timers could chat and reminisce, while youngsters can dream of learning to fly. Alas, changing times and stringent airport security has all but extinguished this element of Americana, but for one Saturday each month, the general public has the chance to get up-close-and-personal with all kinds of planes, a delightful flashback to a different era.

When he isn't flying SpaceShipOne, Proteus or his own LongEZ, astronaut Mike Melvill straps on his Pitts Special, which he brought out today, to the delight of at least one of the youngsters that came out to wander amongst the planes.

Chuck Coleman brought out his new Extra 300. Chuck's previous Extra was a regular chaseplane for SpaceShipOne, and he flew competition aerobatics in it, until it crashed. That Chuck survived and is back flying, given the severity of his injuries, is something of a miracle, and we are all thrilled to see him back in the air!

Below left:A very pretty Harmon Rocket. Below right:Elliot Seguin's Cassutt Race #68 low and fast down runway 26.

The extremes of aviation were clear, with the contrast between the wind-in-your-teeth Ison Air-Bike and the ex-Alaska MD-80 which sat in the middle of the fly-in aircraft, being used as a set for a National Geographic special on D.B. Cooper (I guess no one told the show's producers that DB jumped from a 727, not an MD-80!).

Although Joann Painter's Myers Little Toot was slated to be the featured aircraft for this Saturday, Dick Rutan's brand new Lycoming Thunderbolt 390-powered Berkut stole center-stage. As Dick's display placard attests, it is definitely a "one-of-a-kind" beast!

Dick holds court, showing off his nifty EFIS system.

Since this is the first time that a Lycoming Thunderbolt has been used in a Berkut, Dick even has the prop blades instrumented with strain gauges for the flight test program.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And we're going to do this again on 21 March. Looking forward to seeing more planes and people!