Regarding your "Question of the Week": About every second year, myself and a few mates leave Geraldton, Western Australia and drive four hours to Perth, overnight and then fly commercial six hours to Sydney. There's usually a four-hour wait and then we fly to L.A. (just 15 hours). Then we wait four hours before we're on to Minneapolis (another four-hour flight) and then on to Appleton.
It's a long way but worth every bit. I would come every year if I could.
For the last several years, we have been bringing all the grandkids who have turned six years old by the show time. 2012 sees five of 'em going, with one more to start in 2013. This year they range in age from seven to 17. Ages for 2013 will be six to 18. None of their parents fly. It was simply something Dad did. Maybe I can get one of the grandkids flying. We have a ball at OSH camping in a tent and a camper.
Terry and Jan Wendling
Nearly every year, aviation buffs from our city of Mora, Minnesota gather and fly down together in one or two of our personal planes. Two of our group fly Cessna Centurions, and it is usually one of those we take to AirVenture.
After five years of driving with friends, this year I am flying my J-3 Piper Cub with 200 other Cubs to Oshkosh for the 75th anniversary of the J-3 Piper Cub.
I read a few of the letters to the editor about the air tanker situation and noted that someone listed the CL-415 as a new tanker. While you can buy them new, they are only effective in various parts of the country where scoopable water exists. They are extremely effective when water is available.
There is another option out there that doesn't get as much press: the Fire Boss (AT-802 outfitted with floats and scooping system). They are about $3 million and much cheaper to operate. They hold roughly half the water of the CL-415, but given you can operate a fleet of them for what it costs to buy a 415, you can put as much or little water on a fire as you want very efficiently. Europe and Canada have had much success with them.
For those who don't recognize the name, Charlie is the vice president of engineering for Wipaire and designed the innovative floats his company builds for the Fire Boss.
Regarding the gear-up landing by the air tanker: The 4th Army Flight Detachment had the right main gear fail to fully extend and lock down on a U8-F (Queen Air 65). Maneuvers to get it to lock down were unsuccessful, and the pilots finally retracted the gear (the right gear remained in trail position), killed and feathered the right engine and used the starter to align the prop blades for maximum clearance.
They then set up for a long straight-in to a foamed runway at Randolph AFB. The pilot flew the plane, and the co-pilot killed the left engine once they had the runway made and again used the starter to position the prop.
The result was the right gear folded back into the wheel well, the gear doors ripped off, they lost a couple of antennas on the belly and got some scrapes on the belly skin and on the left gear doors. The aircraft was put on jacks, the gear was lowered manually and pinned down, and the aircraft was flown back to its home base at KSAT for repairs that afternoon.
Allen G. Weisner
When Francis Gary Powers is awarded his Silver Star later this month, it will not be 50 years after his historic flight, but rather 52. (2012-1960 = 52)