|Don Dixon and his 1944 Piper Cub. (photo by Jack Hodgson)
|Greg and Cindy Heckman with their newly restored 1946 Funk B-85-C. (photo by Jack Hodgson)
By Jack Hodgson
July 29, 2013 - It's Sunday afternoon in the Vintage parking area, south of Phillips 66 Plaza. And although the sky is still a bit gray, the temps are very comfortable and the rain is holding off.
A steady stream of beautifully restored and maintained vintage aircraft are taxiing into the grass down here. Lots of EAAers are already wandering up and down the rows enjoying the stunning planes.
Don Dixon is sitting in a low camp chair under the wing of his bright yellow Piper Cub.
Don and the Cub are from Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR), near Chicago. They flew into AirVenture 2013 that morning.
He made the trip in one day. "It's not that far. It was slow with a bit of a headwind. It was a little bumpy, and the ceiling was low. It was difficult to stay high enough off the ground and still below the clouds to make it through. But it wasn't that bad."
Back home in Illinois he flies the Cub about 50 hours a year. "I do what you do in Cubs, which is you fly low and slow, and find grass strips."
This 65-hp, no-electrical-system Cub has an interesting history. "It was built in 1944," Don says. "Like all Cubs that year it was built as an L-4. But it missed the war. It was sent to an Army Air Corp base in Alabama, and never got out of the crate. It was finally purchased in 1951 by the Minneapolis Civil Air Patrol, and flew as a CAP plane for a number of years. It got sold to somebody and ended up as a classic 'barn aircraft.' It was rediscovered in '97, rebuilt completely. The engine was zero-timed. And I got it nine years ago and have had it since."
The Cub has its pros and cons. "It's a very disappointing transport aircraft, but it's a wonderful fun aircraft."
This is Don's 12th trip to the fly-in. What changes has he seen over those years?
"I'm more impressed by how the same it is. It's just the same, wonderful place to be.
"Where else would a pilot want to be?"
He's pretty relaxed about his plans for the week. "I don't even know what's on the schedule. I just come up and spend a few days. I have a friend who's bringing his Piper PA-12 up tomorrow. We'll spend some time together."
Don and company love checking out the warbirds. "We tend to take the same pictures of the warbirds every year. I've got lots of pictures of the warbirds," he says with a smile.
"It's hard not the take a photo of them."
Which one is his favorite? "It's hard not to love the Corsairs. They're just so beautiful."
Greg and Cindy Heckman are from Polo, Illinois. They flew to Oshkosh this year in their very beautiful 1946 Funk B-85-C.
They got here early in the day Sunday. By coming in early they managed to avoid the rough air that so many others encountered later in the day. "It was real smooth," Greg says.
"Not a bump or a burble."
His home airport is Ogle County Airport (C55) in Mount Morris, Illinois.
Greg has just finished a 1,700-hour, five-year restoration project on the Funk. "It was a basket case when I got it. It was just a bare fuselage, boxes full of parts."
He's restored the old plane to pristine condition, and has submitted it for judging at this year's fly-in. Fingers crossed.
Cindy is not a pilot, though she describes herself as an aviation enthusiast. She volunteers in the Vintage store, and enjoys attending some of the general interest forums and session.
Greg has been coming to the fly-in for 30 years, and he's seen a lot of changes over the years. Some he thinks are good, some not so much.
He's troubled about the lack of a suitable grass runway for vintage aircraft that keeps more vintage aircraft from coming to the fly-in; so far the FAA has refused to approve a grass strip built to resolve that issue. Greg also expressed concerns about the amount of commercialization and sponsorships that have grown over those years.
But nevertheless he still loves the fly-in.
"This is still the best thing going. There's nothing that compares to it. You're not gonna find a perfect event anywhere. And in spite of some of the things that maybe we don't like, it's still the best thing going."
Enjoy "Around the Field" all year long at www.AroundTheField.net.
What's happening in Vintage
Here's what's happening in the Vintage area on Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
Round Engine Rodeo
Steve Curry, Radial Engines Ltd., has five display engines on hand for all to see. The engine display is located just inside the main entrance of the Vintage Hangar.
Tips for restorers in hands-on workshop
Each day the Vintage Aircraft Association (VAA) hosts a hands-on workshop in the Vintage Hangar next to the VAA Red Barn. These daily workshops will cover a variety of topics to help owners maintain their vintage aircraft.
VAA metal workshop
Workshop conducted by Roger James, D & D Classic, Covington, Ohio, on unique metalwork such as making compound curves for cowling, wing root fairing strips, and instrument panels. Southwest corner of the Vintage Hangar, 9 to 5 daily.
Hand propping demonstration
Each day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., see a detailed hand propping demonstration in front of the Vintage Hangar.
Vintage in Review
Tuesday, 11 a.m., features Ray Johnson with Dave and Jeanne Allen, of Elbert, Colorado, and their 1934 Waco YKC with a Jacobs 275-hp engine. The Allens completed the restoration on June 18.
Sarah Wilson, owner/pilot of the 1929 Stearman 4E Junior Speedmail, will then answer questions about her beautifully restored airplane and detail some of the historic roles this aircraft has contributed to aviation history.