11:07 PM

Flight Line

This is the time of the year when all pilots not going to Oshkosh get really testy. Sure, to non-flyers, it's just a bunch of airplanes. But to anyone who has ever been lucky enough to tread on the sacred ground of Wittman Regional Airport in late July, Oshkosh – officially EAA Airventure Oshkosh – is like nothing else on this planet to the GA aviator.

There are many elements to Oshkosh, including four gigantic halls full of the coolest gear out there, and acres of endless airplanes on static display. Trying to explain what Oshkosh is like to a pilot who has never been there is an exercise in futility, because words cannot describe what that show is like.

One of the best things that some people forget about Oshkosh is that despite all the flying machines to gawk at, it is still an AIRSHOW! Each afternoon, the absolute best of the best in the aerobatics business dazzle those gathered along the flight line, putting on their best performances of the year. I learned the hard way how important these special afternoon shows are during the first year I spoke at a forum. It was scheduled in the afternoon, and I had just one of the 160 chairs in the tent filled with a breathing human. I found out how hard it is to compete with Patty Wagstaff.

Speaking of PW, I was looking over the airshow schedule (see below) and stumbled upon the makings of a blockbuster show. There in the middle of the schedule was this:

Patty Wagstaff
(Extra-Flugzeugbau 300S & P-51 Mustang)

Oh. My. God. I can't even wrap my brain around what kind of show PW will put on while at the controls of a P-51. Last time I saw her perform at OSH, she did a routine that almost cannot be described in words...but I'll try:
After her usual unbelievable show, Wagstaff finished the crowd off with a series of maneuvers that any aerospace engineer will tell you seems technically impossible. She rockets by show center left to right at maybe 200' AGL and at full speed, and then begins a series of aileron rolls to her right. While continuing these lightening-fast 360-degree aileron rolls to the right, she starts a gradual turn to the left. Think about the coordination that must require. She completes a full circle, coming back to show center, all the while cranking and banking her Extra in this mind-boggling series of outside aileron rolls. Un freakin' believable.
Here is the complete list of performers from EAA, and it is as great as always:
AeroShell Aerobatic Team (4 T-6s)
Sergei Boriak (Suhkoi SU 31)
Dan Buchanan (Hang Glider)
Matt Chapman (CAP 231)
Collaborators (Sean Tucker, Eric Tucker, Ben Freelove, Bill Stein)
Dave Dacy Team (Stearmans)
Pat Epps (Bonanza)
Kyle Franklin (Super Cub)
Debbie Gary (Marchetti)
Mike Goulian (Extra)
Ed Hamill (Pitts)
Debby Rihn-Harvey (CAP 232)
John Klatt (Staudacher)
Bill Leff (T-6)
Liberty Parachute Team
Dave Martin (CAP 232)
John Mohr (Stearman)
Steve Oliver (Chipmunk)
Kent Pietsch (Interstate Cadet)
Warren Pietsch (Taylorcraft)
Red Barons (4 Stearmans)
Sean Tucker (Columbia)
Patty Wagstaff (Extra-Flugzeugbau 300S & P-51 Mustang)
Gary Ward (MX-2)
Matt Younkin (1928 Travel Air Mystery Ship)
EAA Warbirds of America
U.S. Marine Corps (AV-8B Harrier II jump jet)
U.S. Air Force (F-22 Raptors)
I've vowed to make the annual migration to the land of Cheese Museums and beer-soaked Brats every year that I'm on this Earth...but some years, life just gets in the way of that plan.

This is one of those years. UUURRGGGHHHH!

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