July 28, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin -
Sometimes “around the field” takes
on a more expansive meaning. Most of these stories during AirVenture come
from wandering around the grounds of the fly-in, meeting new and old
friends. But “local” can have a different meaning when you have access
to a personal airplane.
Photo by Jack
Jonathan Hardwick with his Navion A model after our early morning
flight from Oshkosh.
Photo by Jack
We met this Super Cub on the CTAF and
arranged for an impromptu air to air picture.
Early Monday I met up with Navion pilot
Jonathan Hardwick to get a quick morning ride in his beautiful Navion
A model. Jonathan hails from Hamilton, Ohio, near Cincinnati, and flies
out of Butler Field. In his day job he serves as a business jet pilot for
a fractional ownership company. But when he’s not doing that, he’s a
member of EAA Chapter 974, the Warbirds of America Squadron 18, and is
active in the Navion community. He’s been flying since 1998, and got his
primary instruction from a former WWII pilot. Jonathon quickly earned his
WWII instructor certificate and enjoys teaching. Among his instructor
experience is a stint at Brown’s Seaplane Base in Florida teaching in
Super Cubs on straight floats.
The Navion was first built just after World
War II. It was used during the Korean War as a liaison aircraft. One
famous picture is of the Navion that General MacArthur used as his
personal airplane. The aircraft was originally built by North American
Aviation, the same folks who produced the P-51 Mustang. Some refer to it
as the “Poor Man’s P-51”. It was built on April 1, 1947.
“We were gonna name it ‘April Fools’
but decided that that wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Jonathan’s plane is gray with Korean War
era military markings. Other than putting in a bigger engine, he’s kept
it pretty stock.
After getting the plane, Jonathan
discovered in the logbooks that, though the plane has spent much of its
life in Texas, it had been originally based near Cincinnati.
“Right after it was manufactured a
gentleman from Cincinnati owned it. And it had been maintained at this old
airport in Cincinnati that no longer exists.”
So Jonathan painted the name “Cincinnati
Kid” on the nose.
Jonathan flies his plane as part of the
Warbirds show at AirVenture. To be allowed to fly formation here requires
“I flew with a group of NATA guys, North
American Trainer Association, which is the governing body for the T-6s. I
got my training from a guy named Jim Stitt—he’ll be flying the air
show with the Trojan Horsemen—and Todd Winemiller who’s the lead T-6
He describes the formation training as “challenging.”
“I did about 5-6 hours. I liken it to aerobatic training. You go out for
30 minutes and you’re toast. Forty-five if you’re really good. It’s
a huge focus factor. It’s very dangerous, you’ve got to trust the
people you fly with.”
What was his biggest challenge when he
first starting to fly formation? “Getting over the fear of being close
to another airplane. And that takes time, you can’t go right out and
say, this is the way it’s supposed to be; let me fly close to this
airplane, ’cause you’re gonna hurt someone.”
It’s a beautiful morning at AirVenture…
On this beautiful first morning of
AirVenture 2009 we followed the warbird ground flagmen and taxied out
to depart on Runway 27. Once safely out of the OSH Class Delta we turned
east and flew to the far side of Lake Winnebago. The land over there is
mostly farm fields. Lots of places to land if needed. Jonathan let me take
the controls for much of the flight, and the plane’s stability and ease
of handling impressed me.
We motored on over to New Holstein, about
20 miles to the east. A group of Super Cubs was marshalling over there
before flying into AirVenture. We could see them all parked on the grass
between the paved and grass runways. Talking on the CTAF, we announce a
couple of quick approaches to the paved runway, which we converted into
low passes and fun climb-outs. One of the Cubs was flying around the area,
also enjoying the morning. We chatted with him on the frequency, and asked
for permission to join with him for a few quick pictures. I’ve now not
only made Oshkosh friends here at Wittman, but over at New Holstein, too.
Heading back to OSH we flew the warbird
arrival, a first for me. From the south, along the lake, turning final for
27. Being a warbird we did the obligatory— and really fun—right break
for landing on 27. Jonathan took over for this part, and set the Navion
down right on the green dot, just as instructed. Now I just have to find
the Super Cub guy to send him some of the pics we took.
It never ceases to amaze, all of the ways
there are to make new friends “around the field” at AirVenture.
Visit the Around the Field archive