Photos by Jack
John Thocker of Cincinnati with his sixth RV.
Denny Jackson of
Independence, Oregon, and his RV-8.
August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin -
The sun and blue skies have returned to Oshkosh on Friday morning. There’s
a lot of activity in the airplane parking areas this morning, as many of
the early arrivers pack up their tents for the journey home.
John Thocker is untying the ropes on his red
RV-8, getting ready to head out. But he’s happy to pause to talk more
John is from Cincinnati, and he’s been here
almost a full week this year.
John and his RV were part of the spectacular
36-ship formation RV flyover early in the week. A lot of preparation goes
into those kinds of demonstrations.
John has been flying formation for a few
years, but he still had to train down in the Cincinnati area before coming
“We trained with a bunch of guys for the
last year, and then went to a clinic this spring with a 19-ship formation,
and then culminating the first weekend before Oshkosh where we practiced
as a 36-ship formation.
“We did lots of training for the weekend,
Saturday, Sunday prior to Oshkosh, and then we did the show”
The 36 ships are made up of many smaller
groups from around the country. John’s group calls itself the “Cincinnati
John first came to the Oshkosh fly-in many
years ago. Among his most vivid memories are of the years that the
“The Concorde was here, and a buddy said,
‘c’mon let’s go ride it, they’ve lowered the price to 300 bucks.’
“But I was buying parts for my RV, and I
thought 300 bucks should go more towards something like an exhaust system,
so I didn’t take him up on it.
“He went and I didn’t. Now he’s got the
story to tell that he rode the Concorde and I don’t. So that’s a
regret that I have. I shoulda rode the Concorde when I had the chance.”
John’s RV-8 is the sixth RV he’s built. He
started in 1983 building an RV-4.
He’s built two RV-4s, an RV-6A and three
RV-8s. They’ve taken as long as seven years, and a little as eight
months to complete.
The plane he has here at Wittman is one of two
that he built simultaneously. He sold one and kept the other.
John has been flying since 1978. He started in
civilian training, worked his way through the ratings, and eventually
ended up a DC-8 captain for a cargo firm.
Also here in the expansive Van’s RV
parking area is Denny Jackson from Independence, Oregon.
This is Denny’s third time to the flyin. His
first time was in 1997, and then he didn’t return a second time until
three years ago.
His yellow-and-blue RV-8 is parked beside a
yellow-and-blue RV-4—one he also built. It was flown here by its current
He finished the -8 in 2005. It took him “a
couple of years” to build using the quick build kits.
That’s a lot quicker than his RV-4. “My
first one took me 10 years to build.”
He really likes the Van’s aircraft.
“It’s the all-around utility of the thing.
They’re good at just about everything: aerobatic, little short grass
fields, long hauls. We’ve been camping in it. We can take all of our
gear in it. It’s just an all-around good airplane.”
He designed the paint schemes on both these
RVs. Inspiration for the earlier paint job came from a very practical
“That one was actually kind of an accident.
The canopy had just a slight gap up at the end, and so I thought, ‘maybe
I better paint that part blue so it doesn’t show the little dark
“Then I came up with the zig-zag on that,
and the blue and yellow, and I thought that I liked the back and front
contrast, so I did this new one like that, but with a different theme.”
What was the toughest part of building the
“Oh, I don’t know. Just staying at it I
think. I mean there’s so much help that you have now. Of course the EAA
people, the chapters, there are chapters everywhere.
“Everyone’s building Van’s so there’s
just no shortage of people to help you out if you get stuck.”
Denny lives in a residential airpark back in
Oregon. The lifestyle suits him.
“Yeah I love it. I fly weekends and during
the week. Any time you feel like taking a little hop you just go out and
open the hangar and go.“
“It is a really nice neighborhood, because
everyone has a common interest. You get real friendly with a lot of
people. It’s very nice.”