Oshkosh, Ohio, Pitcairn discussed on EAA's The Green Dot - An Aviation Podcast


Was magic it was a magic airplane. Can you tell us a little bit about about how you sort of check yourself out to defy that aircraft? Because it's you know, the controls are are, I guess maybe more analogous to a typical classics fixed wing airplane, though, not the same as certainly than helicopter. But you didn't have any gyro time. At least when you first set out to do this. If I remember, right. Well, yeah. No. You know, I didn't I went to Alabama to a guy named dolphin Fritz down in Alabama who had a flying school for gyro plane gyro copters, the modern gyro copters. And so I went down there and got my rating. But of course, it's very different animal from a modern gyro copter to the Pitcairn auto gyro. And so I I got the rating but a little bit of it did carry over. But not a lot of it. And I always tell people Johnny Miller, of course, everybody knows the famous jarrow pilot, Johnny Miller used to come to Oshkosh in as bonanza, and he died less than a year before we flew. Before we test flew the PA eighteen in Ohio. And then of course, Steve Pitcairn who was very involved with the also he died within less less than a year before we flew it. And so I told people after I flew it. Then I knew all the questions, and there was nobody to ask them to anymore. Is doing that, you know, but but we had read stuff, and we learned the hard way. Sometimes we read original accounts of things and kind of figured stuff out. And and say we learned the hard way, the the first taxi tests that we did we had read that the rotor blades were more stable if they returning than if they were stationary. And so we I unlocked the rotor blades and had them turning. But it turned out that they need to be turning at least sixty five RPM to really be stable. We had a little bit of a windblown. We got rotor flap and the and the rotor actually struck the top of the tail and so that was two thousand eighteen that set us back a year from going to Oshkosh. We ended up having to take that we took the rotor blades off and had to repair them. And and check them out and repair the top of the fin and rudder and stuff. So that was one of the hard lessons learned, but you know, eventually, we kinda got it figured out. And it was it was quite a moment. It was at new Carlisle Ohio, which is north of Dayton. It's about two thousand feet twenty one hundred foot they have a grass runway in a paved runway. And at to go out at the end of the runway on the first day that we fluid and open the throttle with the idea of flying. You know, it was quite a moment. I it's I told people it was like it was like a prehistoric pterodactyl flew down and grabbed you took off with you. You know, a lot of crazy. Lot of crazy flapping hap happened in over your head. And you weren't really sure we'll. But an and it didn't have the takeoff performance that I kind of expected from watching miss champion miss champion, of course, with three hundred dollars power really leaps off the ground this one with one hundred one hundred sixty horse power. It didn't really leap off the ground, and we had a prop with a little bit too much pitch. We figured out later, and I was I was actually just about to abort the takeoff when it broke ground. And so, you know, then you're in the air, and you know, you run out of runway you're kinda committed you gotta keep going. But it really was it really was a fantastic moment when it finally flew and it actually flew nice. When it got up to cruise speed man, the ailerons worked really well, and it actually was a fairly nice flying airplane up in the air. But again, I told people everything above ten feet was easy. But below ten feet was where the critical point was when you were descending. When you got to ten feet coming into land you were committed and you better be going straight. If you're going crooked and landed sideways, you're liable to tip it over. But so you really had to have everything set up. You couldn't have much of a crosswind. We really. Limited to less than five mile an hour crosswind probably with it. And so that took a lot of planning to fly from Ohio to Oshkosh took a lot of planning and trying to find airpl- airports with grass runways, and if possible multiple runways, and so it was you know, you really you didn't wanna hurt it. He really didn't want hurt it if something wrong it wasn't in a nineteen thirty two you could call the factory and say send us for rotor blades. And of course, if we had a problem it was a year and a half to rebuild them. But but great great I had about I got about fifty hours in it. And of course, it was sold to current weeks. And it's down there now, and I checked him out in and he fluid better than I did. But I don't think they flown it since it went out of annual eventually, and he's got so many projects going on. I don't think he's flown at since. But yet that was that was probably the pinnacle of my flying experiences when I kick now I mean, obviously now we're talking about vintage aircraft that I just wanted to to ask you, you know, hey, what drew you to liking in wanting to fly vintage airplanes. And you know, why do you think it's important to keep them? Preserved and flying. Well, of course, my dad, really drew me to it. Although it's interesting. My brother wasn't really into airplanes until he was thirty. But I just from a from a very young age that was really all I wanted to do was was fly older planes, and you know, the technology history technology has its own fascination of going from here to there. And of course, the twentieth century is amazing going from bicycles to the moon, basically. And of course, the characters, you know, the people that were involved the Wright brothers, and Glenn Curtiss and the rower one pilots Charles Lindbergh, and I just I've always been fascinated with history and to be able to to be able to read a book say about an airmail pilot flying in the winter across Pennsylvania in an open cockpit and having done it, you know. And I so this is what it felt like, you know, it's it's bets that's part of the interest of it to to kind of be able to free those accounts and have a greater understanding of what those people were talking about that's part of the fascination with it and the the value of it. Is a good question. And I'm sure you guys have heard the debate about the worries about history in general in historical things and anti cars anti-europe lanes that it seems to be an aging population. There seems to be less and less young people involved. And so you you kind of wonder what what is what's the value of it? And you know, I some of the value of it is when when I get on an airliner I mean, I can go down to Dulles airport and get on an airliner in five hours for now being Los Angeles. And that's amazing to me because I know I've done it in a in a seventy year old airplane to and I know how long it took back then. And so to be able to compare give perspective perspective is something that that, you know, might some people would say is lacking in our society in general, I suppose, that's the that's the importance of history as it gives you perspective. And makes you pre sheet what you have. And you know, just give you a better world view. I think to to be able to experience some of the stuff and most of pilots again, you'll agree with me. And you know, these people. Well, and most pilots like to share it. Everybody loves given airplane rides and telling stories about the airplanes, and the people and stuff, and so you know, that has its value to of course, absolutely. Speaking of stories that gives us a nice little say way here a unit. I I met I cross paths. After after I saw film called barnstorming and then had gotten befriends with with Paul Glenn show. One of the one of the directors. Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved in that or that film or how that film came about? That you know, I I recently listened to your movie episode. This is number two movie episode talking about WALDO pepper, and of course, at Ryan Beck growing up, and and most of the crowds I've ever been involved with you can quote WALDO pepper endlessly, you can sit around for an hour and WALDO pepper votes and everybody knows and trivia about WALDO pepper, and and so we'd like to think we're WALDO peppers of today, and my friend Frank have league and Ohio is a big Pete and Paul guy, and we fly around together and do stuff and we liked to land and farmers fields. Which? My Taylor Crespin and a lot of displaying old hayfield out on Ohio, and Indiana, and Illinois and all over the place, and the people that I have now the same thing. And if we're flying along, and we see a nice, look and hayfield we're liable to go land in just for the fun of it. So we were coming back actually coming back from Oshkosh in nineteen ninety nine. We'd had the feet polls up there for the would have been the seventieth anniversary of the team Paul. In fact, this year's the ninetieth were were hoping to have a big crowd of Pete balls at the air venture this year. Also, but a ninety nine was the seventieth, and we were coming back, and we saw this nice looking hayfield and Franken I landed there, another friend of ours will graph was with us, and he landed there, also and the farmers came out and a couple of pickup trucks came into the field and the farmer came along. And we were a little worried that he might not like it we'd landed in his field. And so I told him the engine. It was overeating. I lied a little bit told him the end was overheating. But anyway, we got talking and Frank took a couple of kids for rides. And Matt the farmer said boy, you guys should come back next year. We'll do. Little cookout for you. And this year will be the twentieth year. We've been going back the last few years people from all over the the surrounding area. Come and bring food and stuff we've had close to two hundred people there, the the farmers and the people that live in town come out and have like say, a big kind of a potluck dinner. And we do a little aerial display for me do like a toilet paper cod and do a balloon busting and flour bombing and stuff for a little flying activity and give rides we had to new standards there one year giving rides and just going around. It was it was like nineteen thirty five. It was in a in a real farmers field and to new standards in the line of people, and they people loading them in the airplanes. And then they go twice around the patch and land, and I mean, it was it was another. It was a time warp. It was just like being in nineteen thirty five. It was really cool.

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