EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

 for Sun, July 27, 2008

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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 1 July 27, 2008     

Many lives of the Hunter
By Frederick A. Johnsen

Photo by Frederick A. Johnsen

Steve Appleton is reflected in the glossy black finish of his supersonic Hawker Hunter jet as he buttons the aircraft up after arriving at AirVenture 2008 on Saturday, July 25. Photo by Frederick A. Johnsen

It’s glossy black, supersonic, computerized, and in the Warbird area at AirVenture this year. Steve Appleton’s two-place Hawker Hunter began life in 1955 as a single-seat Mark IV derivative of this British jet of undisputed aesthetics. Round two for this Hunter came with a factory rebuild by Hawker into a side-by-side trainer for the Singapore Air Force, circa 1971. Now, roaring out of Boise, Idaho, this Hunter uses two PC computers onboard to operate engine controls, hydraulics, fuel, and the electrical system.

That’s an innovation Appleton and his associates installed in the name of modernity. There’s a manual reversion if the computers, running the reliable Windows XP, go down. The computerization gives Appleton real-time health monitoring of his high-performance aircraft’s systems. Any perturbations during flight – whether cross-country or during a low-level air show routine – can be analyzed using the data tracked by the computers.

Appleton said his Hunter is easily capable of supersonic flight – something he cannot let his black steed exercise in cross-country travel. But there have been times when he knows his aircraft is on radar that he has opened it up to about .95 Mach – 95 percent the speed of sound – just to dazzle the controllers. He can cruise at around 28,000 feet– higher if cleared–at well over 300 kts. indicated airspeed. His Hunter’s Avon 208 jet engine is rated at 11,500 pounds of thrust. Steve said he may get to fly the jet black jet later this week in a Warbird show at AirVenture.

When not impressing air traffic controllers or attending the world’s largest air show gathering, Appleton uses the Hunter for personal enjoyment as well as air show performances. He has owned four Hunters over the years. Steve said what he likes best about his jet is: "It’s a great airplane for air shows because it has a big wing and it is very maneuverable." The Hunter’s classic lines add to its air show appeal, he added. And his least favorite aspect? "It burns a lot of fuel." Steve figures an average fuel burn is 500 gallons an hour; a fuel stop during the journey to Oshkosh cost $4,500 for 800 gallons.

Steve Appleton is the CEO of Micron Technology, producers of computer memory.

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