Sunday, July 20, 2014

A ride in a 1941 Waco Biplane and a powered parachute

Saturday we went up to the Pittsfield "Anything that Flies" gathering and . . .
. . . . we got a ride in a 1941 Waco Biplane. At first Annie was a bit tense and was gripping the cockpit cross bars rather firmly but eventually she relaxed. Good thing I let her have the only set of headphones in the front pit.
Our friend Marty in the orange hat came from New Hampshire with his friend in the Waco to give young eagles rides at the event. Just before departing he asked his friend John to give us a once around the patch.
Annie tried it on for size, and it took some convincing to get her to go especially since there was a bit of fuel siphoning from the vent tube after a top off of the tanks.

A view of the cockpits
We got a half hour ride out of it.

 A view of Pittsfield from the air. Classic small town America
In cruise it tops out at 90 MPH
Base to final for RWY 36
There were the usual attractions as well, A Kolb single seater.
A 180 knot 160 hp Lancair go fast cruising machine from Colorado

 Tight but comfy
Traveling with and aviator Chihuahua
At the other extreme of the spectrum a home built Hummel Bird with dual wheels
Powered by a 1600 cc VW engine cut in half
Bit of fancy rivet work
And half way between the two, a home built Sonex, this one powered by a full VW
And quite a few sets of floats by the side of the old runway
And Cessna 185 on straight floats. I was hoping to see a trailer take-off but it was not to be, he was going down to the river to launch it from there.
And an even more basic foot launch hang glider dating back to the mid 70s
Powered by a McCulloch chainsaw engine ! ! ! !
And a gaggle of your usual Ramp Vermin, this one an RV6
An RV4
Another six.
In the hangar there were a few radio control models.
 On the way back home we stopped at Bowdoinham as we usually do, just to see what is new at my old home field where I learned to fly back in the 80s.
 Things are a far cry from what it all used to be 30 odd years ago. Mark has done a nice job of turning the old FBO building into his home.

As usual we need to see if last winter's snow had finally crushed the old hangars, but amazingly they are still standing.
And Bill Taylor's Jr Ace was still there looking sad and forlorn
We could hear the chipmunks having a party inside the fueselage
Frankly it borders on criminal to let it go like this but Bill refuses to part with it, though clearly he has little use for it anymore.
Mark has also bought 65 Victor, I must have 100 hours in that old 150
The Powered Parachute club had a gathering going on.
With lots of brightly colored machines.
They all had their custom trailers

Some fancy set ups.
Most were powered by 60 hp Rotax 583s
But there was one real hot rod
Powered by a 100 hp Rotax 912
Most evident is that the group is really a cohesive community. They even had a pork roast going.
And we were soon invited to partake of the festivities. The roasting box is a device called " La Caja China" or The Chinese Box. It was a device brought to Cuba by Chinese immigrants at the turn of the century. And was in turn brought to Miami by Cuban emigres. The top has a stainless tray lid you fill with coals. Put your pig or pork shoulders inside. And let it cook low and slow for a long time.
It even has your cooking instructions. It looks like it is simple enough to build and I might just have to make one some day. Just half inch CDX plywood and sheet metal.
After dinner at about 6:30 pm winds died down enough to do some flying so folks got their rigs prepared.
Dazzling colors
Engines fired up and warmed,  they are off
Up and away
Another one starts the take-off run
And in a few seconds he is airborne.
Inflating the chute
Half way up
One last look to ensure the chute is up properly
And he's up
In less than 100 ft altitude he can come right back around overhead.
Quite a few were flying.
And while admiring the scene
I was offered a ride in this machine and before I could say no, they had a helmet on me and had me all strapped in and we went for a ride. Unfortunately I got no photos as the camera stayed in my pocket and my paws were firmly clenched on the back rest of the front seat. Though I am glad I did it really don't think I will be taking the sport up any time soon. Perhaps I am just a bit too prone to vertigo, and need the false security of the fuselage around me, however thin that may be. At a couple hundred feet I found it reasonably enjoyable but we got up to about 1200 feet of altitude over Merrymeeting bay and given that you are only doing about 33 mph you just feel like you are hanging there with your feet dangling off the top of a sky scraper ledge. Took a bit of effort for me to overcome the sense of vertigo. I found that for me at least it lacks the sense of lift that in a fixed wing aircraft provides me with a sense of control authority and thus security. I suppose I got a bit of a taste for what Annie was feeling in the biplane ride.

But thanks to Camille Cyr and his handy I-pad mini here is the evidence of the deed. After about 20 minutes we did a touch - and - go after the pilot decided he did not want to obstruct the runway for others by landing half way down it

and the landing.


  1. ¡Que lindo paseo... But you're getting old, buddy...

    1. Bueno lo de ponerme viejo es inevitable. Si tienes una poción para rejuvenecerme me la mandas. De mente tengo solo 13, pero con mas frecuencia de lo debido el cuerpo se porta como si tuviera mas de 100 años.

  2. Neat stuff! Looks like you had a good time!

    1. Oh we did have fun Gorges. Lots of unexpected treats, adn those are always appreciated. But as exiting as the PPG ride was I don't think I'll it up again. Just a bit to exposed for my taste. It was a chance I had to take when offered, as you never know when it would come again, but I'll stick with proper fixed wing airplanes. The Biplane ride was more enjoyable.

  3. Bonito paseo en el Waco Michael,me alegro que lo disfrutaras con tu esposa.

    1. Bueno Agustín, yo lo disfrute mucho, pero ella iba un poco nerviosa. Pero emparejamos cuando me monte en el parapente.