July 28, 2014

Oshkosh 2013 – Airventure Recap

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Another Oshkosh is complete and what a fantastic Airventure week it was! For those of you who have been able to experience Oshkosh in the past, chances are you have memories of hot muggy weather or storms of enormous proportions (….or maybe both!).  This year was an unexpected break from both – we were lucky if we saw mid-80′s and only had a dusting of rain here or there throughout the week.  Needless to say it was an outstanding event!

I was lucky enough to be spending my 2nd Oshkosh with the amazing ICON Aircraft Team (my 6th Oshkosh overall) and it was, as always, great!  Although I wasn’t away from the booth much for a majority of the week, I did get the opportunity to sneak out for a bit and grabbed pics to share with Go Inverted.

A great friend and fellow aerobatic pilot, Michelle Kole (5g Aviation) and I were lucky enough to sneak a flight into Osh with a friend who was bringing in a Citation Mustang (jetAVIVA).  Within 5 minutes of being on the ramp in front of the Weeks Hangar we spied our first movie star!  Dusty was a hit with all ages, even flying during the show on a few of the days and then sharing his movie (Disney’s Planes) with everyone before it hit theaters on Friday night!

We spent the week meeting lots of amazing people at the ICON booth as well as seeing old friends – Oshkosh is the best place on earth to make new friends as well as catch up with old ones!

Kadie stopped by to say hello – she’s sure to be one of the next great aerobatic pilots so make sure to watch for her in the future!!

Chelsea, Jamie & Jessy

Chelsea & EAA Volunteer, John

Making new friends at Oshkosh is easy – everyone there is your friend whether you know it or not! It is such an amazing place where people with a passion for flying, fun and innovation gather once a year to share their passion for these things with others.  One of the most amazing things about this are the droves of volunteers that come every single year to help EAA make this show possible.  I had to take my picture with John, one of the volunteers at the exhibitor’s food tent (he made sure to keep us in line when we arrived each day) – how can you pass up a picture with such a fine young man, Oshkosh B’gosh overalls and all!?!

And of course I cannot go without mentioning all of the eye-candy that surrounded us this year!

Circling the Jumpers

The power house!

Father and son prepping the plane – what Oshkosh is all about!

Beautiful P-51 Mustang

Mustang Noses

As always Oshkosh provided the perfect setting for an amazing group of people to get together and share in the joy of aviation.  From the Weeks Hangar to the Sea Plane Base there were amazing sights to be seen and fantastic people everywhere! I can’t wait until next year when we get to see what people have been working on over the next 12 months and to see what the the latest and greatest additions to the show will be.  Maybe, just maybe, it will be this:

A Hellcat recently recovered from Lake Michigan – on it’s way to being restored!

 

 

 

Why Fly a Tailwheel?

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It is such an interesting thing to be in a group of pilots and bring up the word “Tailwheel” and then watch the response. It is interesting because it always elicits a different response. Some pilots drawback in distaste because of the things they have heard about how difficult they are to manage. I have one friend who refuses to ever fly one because of his experience years ago (long before he became a pilot) when the pilot he was flying with made it out to appear to be the most difficult airplane to fly on the planet. They were flying a Cessna 180.  Yet other responses will include grins, a glimmer in the eye, and sometimes even pure laughter in remembering a past experience. How is it that such a simple airplane design can conjure up so many different responses in the aviation community? And what is the real story behind this mysterious bird? The list of questions can go on and on but the real question is, is there a benefit to flying a tailwheel airplane? I mean, why, if almost all new aircraft are tricycle gear, would you ever want to learn how to fly one of those old, often fabric, tailwheels?

 

There are many reasons to take on any type of additional flight training; every time you dedicate yourself to learning a new aviation skill you are improving your piloting abilities, your understanding of flight and increasing your confidence. You become a safer pilot with each additional training experience you take. So you might wonder, what does a tailwheel have to offer that other aircraft types may not?

 

  1. Patty Wagstaff's Extra

    Tailwheel aircraft hone stick-and-rudder skills.

This is because you experience the aerodynamics much more so than you do in tricycle gear aircraft, both when you’re on the ground and in the air. While learning how to manage your MFD’s and PFD’s, autopilots and anti-icing systems, stick-and-rudder skills are often under developed in today’s modern general aviation aircraft. This doesn’t mean that these aircraft are not great aircraft, it just means that as pilots we need to be sure to do our part to round-out our skills so we become the most well-rounded and safe pilots we can be.

 

 

 

2. Tailwheel aircraft teach focus and vigilance.

 

Ben Freelove getting ready to fly Tutima Academy's Extra 300L.

Tailwheels aren’t tough to fly, they just require more “work” than your common general aviation aircraft. But, really, what is “work”? Work means paying attention. Work means focusing on what the airplane is doing, understanding why it is doing it and being cognizant of how to manage it appropriately. Work is the effort the pilot provides during the flight to safely control the aircraft in the most precise manner possible. Tailwheel aircraft are fun to fly and often make pilots feel more like a pilot than they ever have before, but that is because they don’t let you get away with sloppy technique or lack of attention during take-off’s and landings. They do exactly what you tell them to do, nothing more, nothing less. These traits allow them to teach aviators precision, focus, and amazing airmanship.

 

 

3. Tailwheel aircraft offer a variety of missions often not available in common tricycle gear aircraft.

Crop Duster sitting in her hangar at KAAA in 2008.

 

If you are one of those aviation enthusiasts that have watched every unique flight video on YouTube then you know that these aircraft offer an amazing array of missions and opportunities. From a 65hp J-3 Cub just like the ones that WWII aviators started out in to a Pitts aerobatic biplane or from an Aviat Husky on 29” Tundra Tires landing on riverbeds to a DC-3 delivering mail around Alaska – tailwheel aircraft can pretty much do it all.

 

 

 

 

4. Tailwheel aircraft connects today’s pilots with yesterday’s aviators.

 

Duggy the DC-3

If you take a non-pilot and put them in front of two aircraft, a Cessna 152 or a Piper J3 Cub, which one do you think they will pick to go for a ride in? Of course this could lead to a debate but from experience I can tell you that given the opportunity people often flock to tailwheels. I believe this is very much due to the fact that all of us have seen old photos and videos of the Red Barron, the aces of WWII and prominent aviators and aviatrixes like Lindburgh and Earhart all flying tailwheels. There’s a connection to the excitement, adventure and heroism of the past that is forever linked to these aircraft, even if it is an aircraft that was built this year!

 

I may be a bit biased because I am a tailwheel enthusiast with the best of them, but I would throw out the challenge to any pilot looking to sharpen their airmanship while becoming a safer and more confident pilot to look into a tailwheel endorsement. Not only is the knowledge applicable to every other airplane you will fly in, but it is sure to be a fun and exciting adventure to add to your logbook!

 

Looking for tailwheel instruction in your area? Check out the EAA’s website, IAC’s website, or contact your local flight school. If you’re in California and looking to try your hand at it contact JATO Aviation to find out more about how you can learn to fly tailwheels in their 2010 Super Decathlon with Chelsea Stein Engberg.

Chelsea’s First Oshkosh – Day 8

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Oshkosh Comes to a Close

Sunday, August 3, 2008

 

We’d come to the end of the flying for Team Oracle and The Collaborators but that didn’t mean that we were quite finished with our responsibilities. Although we did get to sleep in for a bit and could take our time getting over to the show from the Weeks Hangar, we did have one family coming as Oracle Guests. Once we arrived Sean had some autographs to sign, so I hopped into his car with him and off we went.

Today was different than the other days. Sean was able to relax a bit, as much as he can ever relax.  Although still moving at a million miles a minute, he got to walk around a bit. And of course we got to talk about life and work and I soaked in all the words of wisdom he had to offer.

From sponsor to sponsor and tent to tent we zipped around with exuberant Sean leaving everyone in his wake with a smile. I have so much to learn from Sean and all of my coaches and mentors that it is unbelievable. From flying to business to interacting with current sponsors, potential sponsors and fans, the opportunities are endless.

The show was great, as is expected of Oshkosh, yet there was almost a touch of sadness looming over the entire airport. It was the last day of Oshkosh. Airplanes had begun departing a day or two before and as we drove through the warbird area it looked bare and lonely. Tents began to come down and people were packing their things.

Could it be that it had gone by that fast? Absolutely! They say that time flies when you’re having fun, no pun intended. I guess they’re right!

As we hurried back across the airport towards the hangar after the show, the sky began to get darker and darker. After doing some things we raced back over to the show side to drop off the golf cart and it was a good thing we went when we went. No sooner had Ian hopped in the car that I drove over than the sky opened up and thunder began to clap. It rained pretty much non-stop with thunderstorms rolling through off and on the rest of the night.

We all headed back to the house for an amazing dinner prepared by Kureha, Ben’s girlfriend. And let me tell you, this girl can cook! I’m not just saying that…it was an awesome dinner and a perfect ending to a long hard week of work and fun. After a night of laughter and camaraderie it was time for bed. Then next morning we would all be heading home; different places for each us of, but only for a little while. The airshow schedule will be calling everyone back together  soon enough.

My final thoughts on Oshkosh…it is a MUST for anyone who loves flying or just loves a good time. I could never have imagined that my first Oshkosh experience would be so amazing. From making new friends, seeing old ones to growing as a member of my new flying family, it is something for which I will be forever grateful. It just supports my belief that you should always dream big and never stop working hard for what you want. You never know what might come of it!

Chelsea’s First Oshkosh – Day 7

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Oracle Day at Oshkosh

Saturday August 2, 2008

Today was a little different than the rest of the week. The Collaborators were done with their performances at Oshkosh 2008 and this was Sean and Team Oracle’s last performance day. With this came hosting some of Oracle’s employees and customers in what ended up being one of the nicest “chalets” that I have ever seen!

Ian and I both work as hospitality representatives for Team Oracle and our job is to make sure that our guests have an outstanding time the whole day through. From eating to sunscreen, watching the show and meeting the Team, we are there to make sure that they experience the airshow in the most amazing way possible.

Once we set up the catering and gift/sign-in table I snuck around taking a few shots of the setting just to make sure to show people how great this “rig” was. We were told it actually is used most often at racing events, but I definitely say that if you are ever looking for something like this, you should contact this company!

Our guests enjoyed a quiet spot to relax in the truck, air conditioned seating in the tent area and the best seats in the house right on the show line once the planes took to the sky. It was fun for all as always.

Once the show had ended it was time to head back to the Charlie Hillard Building for the Performers’ Party. This was an experience that I am so thankful to have had and something that I will definitely never forget. The evening was filled with good food, good discussions and good people. And to hear the speeches from many different people, some of whom have no idea how influential and influencial I think they are, was truly amazing to me.

Sean also pulled the whole team together to say thank you and to reiterate that we are all a family. Of course being there pretty much a team full of guys I could not let on that my eyes were a bit watery by the end of the whole thing…but it really was a big deal for me. I can’t believe I am doing what I’m doing and flying what I’m flying. All I can say is, dreams do come true.

Chelsea’s First Oshkosh – Day 6

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Oshkosh 2008

Friday August 1, 2008

 

Friday morning  … the Collaborators’ last day to perform this year at Oshkosh. It was a beautiful morning and we were all ready for another great day and a crowd-pleasing performance.

Before the airshow started the guys had lots to do which included Ian and me heading to the Ford Tent to help them out with an autograph session. It is so much fun to see all of the different people who show up for these events. You see everyone from hardcore fans who know everything about each pilot and plane to Oshkosh newbies who saw these guys fly for the first time this year. Kids and ol’ timers, everyone who comes through the line gets a personal one-on-one experience with Ben, Bill, Eric and Sean. It is something that I think sets the team apart, as they take such outstanding care of each and every fan. I can’t even guess how many kids will become pilots just because of the experience they have meeting these guys; they truly are an awe-inspiring bunch.

After the autographs it was time for the guys to get ready to rock. Here are a few pictures from the flight line of getting ready (luckily I can sneak in some shots while I’m working, capturing memories I  I will always treasure.

Before the show ended Ian and I (with John in tow) headed to their hotel to get packets together for our Oracle guests who would be joining us the next day. Once we were finished we headed back to the hangar and grabbed the golf cart and Seamus to go over to the Charlie Hillard Building for a post-wedding party with a large group of their airshow family. Of course there was food being provided for the performers at the hangar so John and Seamus couldn’t wait.  Guys are always hungry.

The party was fun and we had a great time relaxing and enjoying a gorgeous evening on the side of the runway with lots of wonderful friends. It was a great way to close the day and we even got to “sleep in” the next morning before heading back out to the airport for Sean’s last performance at Oshkosh 2008.

 

 

Chelsea’s First Oshkosh – Day 4

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Oshkosh Behind the Scenes

Wednesday July 30, 2008

 

Today was the Collaborators’ day to fly again which means we had all four planes out and lots of work to be done.  We had two media flights in the morning so that meant that the planes were pulled and warmed up before the pilots arrived. Next came a briefing for the flight and passengers on what to expect, and how to handle any unforeseen emergencies including use of the parachute. Then it was time to get going!

Some of the amazing Oshkosh Controllers.

Of course, Oshkosh doesn’t have the normal ground control/ tower routine that most pilots are used to. Here, at least during the show, ground control is not done by radio but hand signals provided by all of the wonderful volunteers along the taxiways. Because of this when we have a formation flight going out that will be taking off together we have to head out ahead of them in a vehicle to let the volunteers know that they are all together.

Now, getting to the runway doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to call up tower.  Again, to declutter the radio they have another mode of communication. There is a makeshift “mini tower” just along the runway with actual controllers communicating directly to the tower telling them who they have ready to take-off and help keep eyes on the arrivals at the same time. Thus, we had to scurry out to them in the golf cart so they made sure to have the right spacing for all 5 aircraft to take off. When your time comes for departure there is a mad dash as one of the controllers on the ground waves frantically at you indicating it’s your time to get rolling and that means move!

After the photo flights were over it was back to the flight line for the show. We were constantly busy running around getting airplanes cleaned, fueled, smoked and ready for the next performance. Then there were the autograph signings at different companies’ tents around the grounds, which are always a blast.

By the end of the day we were all beat. Of course I couldn’t stop snapping pictures any chance I got  while riding around

P-40 Warhawk on display.

in the golf cart…but then again, who would be able to resist?! When we arrived to the hangar that evening the lighting was just too perfect to not take a few more pictures. There I was, surrounded by airplanes of the greats, including those of my team, Patty Wagstaff, Kyle Franklin and more.  It was eye candy for anyone, young or old.  Everywhere I looked was another breathtaking sight melding power with pure beauty.

Chelsea’s First Oshkosh – Day 1

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Chelsea Arrives in Oshkosh!

July 27th, 2008

Performers' Hangar

 

 

That’s right, I have arrived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for my first Oshkosh experience! I’m here with Team Oracle and The Collaborators and am lucky enough to work with, live with and even fly a little with this amazing group. Needless to say, I absolutely love that I get to work with and learn from them all, and to do Oshkosh with them is going to be a blast!

Yesterday afternoon I arrived at the hangar just in time to see the boys land. After some hugs, handshakes and an overall celebration of being in Oshkosh the planes were wiped down and a briefing about the evening’s events occurred. The plan, Sean and I were going grocery shopping and then it was off to the house for a BBQ.

Shopping with Sean…this is something that you have to see with your own eyes. He is a shopping maniac. He knows exactly where things are and with two of us formation shopping we were in, out and unpacked before the boys or Katie arrived! BBQ burgers seasoned to perfection by Eric…and I do mean perfection, and sweet corn with good wine and the sacred nectar (that’s Tequila for those of you who don’t know) we enjoyed a great evening of stories, discussions and plenty of laughter.

Today is our last day of preparation. With practice flights and decal preparation for sponsors.