Will Saloga from
With sunny skies bringing the crowds to
day one of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, we asked this question of people
from one end of the field to the other: If they could spend an hour
flying any airplane they’ve seen at AirVenture, what would it be? And:
If you could spend an hour flying with any pilot, who would it be?
Surprisingly, from the Ultralight area to
Scotts Warbird Alley, the answers were remarkably consistent. Person
after person said that if they only had an hour to spend flying, the
P-51 Mustang would be their plane of choice.
The fighter-pilot vet’s perspective
Will Saloga, who flew his Cessna 195 from Batavia, Illinois, was an
Air Force pilot for 20 years flying Phantoms and F-16s, so it was the
history of the airplane that intrigued him. “I got to ride in one in
high school,” Saloga said, and he said he would the opportunity to do
Brothers Wilbert and Allan Senope agreed that the Mustang is the
plane they would like to spend an hour in. “It was the plane of
childhood during World War II,” said Wilbert. Allan Senope also builds
radio-controlled P-51 models at his home in Beloit, Wisconsin. Jim Mayer
chose the P-51 because of the speed and the sound of the engine.
Love the one you’re with
Kendall Wagner from Chino, California, is one of the lucky few to
own a P-51—so naturally, “she” is his choice. She goes by the name
of Lady Alice, and Wagner wouldn’t trade her for anything. “It’s
the best plane ever invented,” he said of the P-51, “and Lady Alice
is the prettiest here.”
Other warbirds of choice included the P-38 Lightning—which Wes
Blasjo from Riverside, California, thinks is the “greatest World War
II fighter”—and Bill Van Osdd’s choice, the F4U Corsair. He was in
Naval Flight School during World War II, but the program was shut down
before he had a chance to fly the Corsair.
The light stuff
On the lighter end of the spectrum, Cathy Bayko, who came in from
Dunnville, Ontario, has a fondness for the diminutive twin-tailed
Ercoupe. “I’m a student pilot,” she said, “and I would love to
be able to buy one.”
To take a tumble with Tucker
World famous aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker was also a popular pick,
with Cathy Bayko and Wes Blasjo both wanting an hour to learn from one
of the world’s best pilots.
Bob Schroeder from Bedford, Wisconsin, chose Miracle on the Hudson
pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Schroeder said, “He’s an
exceptional pilot. I would learn a lot.”
Fly with me!
Finally, Dick Martin from Green Bay, Wisconsin, chose himself. “There
are great aviators out there,” he said, “but I would rather fly than
ride any day.”