EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

 for Mon, July 28, 2008

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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 2 July 28, 2008     

Ask Tom
Tom Richards will answer your questions in AirVenture Today throughout the week.

Please drop your questions (with your name and where you are from) off at the AirVenture Today office located near the old FAA control tower and the First Aid Station or via e-mail to asktom_airventure@hotmail.com and he will do his darndest to answer them.

Q: Why do some tandem aircraft fly from the back seat and some from the front?

K.H., Nashville, Tennessee

A: For the uninitiated, a tandem aircraft is one in which the seats are one behind the other, rather than side by side. Actually, thatís the case even if you have been initiated.

Examples are the Piper J3 Cub and the Aeronca Champ. The Piper flies from the back seat, the Aeronca from the front, though in each case there is another stick and set of rudder pedals with the passenger seat. One of the main reasons for the location of the primary controls is the balance of the airplane. However, the front-seat flying improves visibility on the ground.

Q: Are there any tours of the new control tower? How about the old one?

F.J.S., Minneapolis, Minnesota

A: No and no. And once the transfer of equipment to the new tower is complete, the old tower becomes the property of Miron Construction, which will tear it down. By the way, some folks have inquired about the possibility of buying a brick from the old tower. That isnít possible because of the cost of disassembling it versus the cost of simply razing it.

Q: I understand that homebuilt aircraft are important to EAA. How many of them are there?

D.S., Ripon, Wisconsin

A: More than you can shake a hammer at. At the moment, about 30,000. The homebuilt segment of general aviation is growing at the rate of about 4 to 6 percent a year, while other branches are contracting. Homebuilts represent more than 10 percent of all active aircraft in the United States. And, indeed, while other aircraft are important, homebuilts are the heart and soul of EAA.

In fact, a highlight of this yearís AirVenture will be official recognition of the 30,000th amateur-built aircraft Wednesday and Thursday.

Q: With all the rain you folks have had, how wet are the AirVenture grounds?

K.T., Atlanta, Georgia

A: Well, our grass is green and growing. How about you? Anyhow, donít worry. The AirVenture grounds are among the highest in the Oshkosh area and are dry and beautiful (unless you are the one who has to mow.) Other than Lake Winnebago, there is no water you could fall into, or even get your shoes wet. Itís perfect.

Q: How many female pilots are there in the United States?

G.S., Portland, Oregon

A: Some say not enough. Certainly, the Ninety-Nines would agree with that. That is an organization of licensed women pilots from 35 countries, with more than 5,500 members worldwide. The group, formed in 1929, is named for the 99 charter members. They are involved in all aspects of flying, but they say, "First and foremost, we are women who love to fly."

In the United States, women make up about 6 percent of the total number of licensed pilots, or about 36,000 of the roughly 600,000 pilots.

Q: I see that the Goodyear Blimp will be at AirVenture again this year, and it made me wonder why a blimp is called a blimp.

N.S., Butte. Montana

A: They tried calling them Evelyn, but that didnít catch on. Thatís not true. The term probably was coined in 1915 by one A.D. Cunningham of the British Navy Air Force. It is an attempt to duplicate the kind of cartoon sound of flicking an airship with your finger. Blimp!

Q: It seems like everywhere I turn, there is an EAA photographer. How many of them are there, anyway?

M.O., Springfield, Illinois

A: Stop turning everywhere. There really arenít that many, and youíve got to remember that airplanes are very visual things. Jim Koepnick, EAA chief photographer, says there are 15 photographers and related personnel, plus three full-time photographers. Having this many, Koepnick said, "allows us to capture the variety of activities here."

And thatís plus the two who work for this publication.

Q: Who are all those people in the pink shirts?

L.T., Des Moines, Iowa

A: You must be new around here. Those are the FAA people. They wear pink because nobody else will. Thatís a funny answer, but there is an element of truth to it. It makes them easily recognizable to pilots. Another explanation Iíve heard is, "Theyíre federal employees. You can make them do anything." I donít believe that.

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