By Randy Dufault
July 28, 2013 - Even brand new airplanes have a story, though that story may be very short.
But by the time an airframe reaches the age necessary to be considered in the Vintage Aircraft Association's Vintage, Classic, or Contemporary categories, the stories get much, much longer.
"If you go down the line, virtually every one of these airplanes has a story either with the personalities involved or with the airplane itself," said Steve Krog, VAA director.
One example is a beautifully restored Stearman PT-17 owned by Richard Packer from Radnor, Ohio. Packer bought what remained of the WWII trainer after it spent a long life as a crop duster and restored it to a condition fine enough to earn an AirVenture Grand Champion award. What did not come with the airframe was its entire story.
"What we would try to do with the old-timers from our airport is bring them up here for a day so they can see these airplanes," said Krog, who hails from Hartford, Wisconsin. "That particular airplane, from the time it was declared surplus until the time Packer bought it, was a crop duster. It was all beat to heck and was flown by a gentleman by the name of Ray Goss.
"We brought Ray up here one year, and he looked at the plane and asked, "'Where's the owner of this airplane?'"
Krog was able to point Packer out, and even though Ray was barely able to walk, a group of folks helped him into the cockpit of his former ride.
"He must have sat there for an hour or more reliving spraying in that thing," Krog said. "He was oblivious to everything around him."
More great stories are in store this year as the Vintage area hosts the Round Engine Rodeo, building on the success of 2012's celebration of the Piper Cub's 75th anniversary.
According to Krog 15 years ago it was not unusual to see 40 or 50 of the type at AirVenture. However, in recent years that number had fallen off to a pretty consistent 10 or 12.
Each day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013 one of the rodeo airplanes will be featured during Vintage in Review in front of the VAA Red Barn. The hourlong programs tell the stories of the airplanes and the people, and leave plenty of time for questions from the audience.
This year Vintage also worked hard getting past Grand Champion airplanes to return. According to Krog, Vintage expects three times as many returning champions this year as usual.
"It will be a great opportunity to see some beautifully restored airplanes."
The Vintage area is located just south of Phillips 66 Plaza. Featured airplanes will be located outside of the VAA Red Barn and to the east.
What's happening in Vintage
Here's what's happening in the Vintage area on Monday, July 29, 2013.
Round Engine Rodeo
Dozens of radial engine aircraft on display for all to see and enjoy. The Round Engine Rodeo features numerous single-, twin-, and yes, even one or two tri-engine radial aircraft.
Tips for restorers in the hands-on workshop
Each day the Vintage Aircraft Association (VAA) hosts a hands-on workshop in the Type Club Hangar next to the VAA Red Barn. These daily workshops will cover a variety of topics to help owners maintain their vintage aircraft.
9 a.m. - Don Bartlett kicks off this daily feature discussing the nuances of making your engine run more efficiently, focusing on spark plugs from A to Z.
10 a.m. - Jim Hamilton talks about the correct way to adjust wing wash in/washout, shares tips on preserving and maintaining wheel bearings, and demonstrates how to build your own 50-cent alcohol fuel tester.
Vintage in Review
11 a.m. - Hosted daily by Ray Johnson in front of the VAA Type Club Hangar.
Trevor Niemyjski, 20, and his recently completed 1935 Monocoupe 90A powered by a Lambert R-266 90-hp engine.
Joe Flood, Franklinville, New Jersey, and his restored 1939 Aeronca Chief 65-C.
VAA Red Barn
8-10 a.m. - Hot coffee and donuts on the front porch daily.
Red Barn Gift Shop open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Tall Pines CafÃ© serving breakfast only, 6:30-9:30 a.m.