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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 3 July 29, 2008     

Around the Field
A retired Air Force pilotÖa Michigan CFIÖand a high school math teacher/future astronaut

By Jack Hodgson

Sunday at AirVenture 2008 was a day to settle into your campsite and relax in your camp chair along Runway 9/27 to watch the arrivals.

Tom Cox arrived in his 3-year-old RV-7. He made the six-and-a-half hour flight from Ogden, Utah, on Saturday, and heís now parked and camping in the North 40.

This is his fifth year to the fly-in, and he returns each year more for the overall experience rather than any particular events.

"We really donít have any special, single-out event. Itís just the total scheme of things. You know itís kinda gotten to be a ritual."

So what brings him back each year?

"Itís the total experience of the thing that brings you back. And each year things are just a little better. Smoother.

"We are just astounded by the logistics of the way things are controlled here. The tremendous effort that must be going on behind the scenes to make this thing work. I just have to say itís the total experience."

Tom is a long-time, highly experienced pilot. Heís been flying for "about 55 years."

Whatís his favorite airplane?

"The favorite airplane is always the airplane youíre flying at that time." He then casually launches into a mind-boggling list of military aircraft, of all shapes and sizes, which heís flown over the years.

He retired from the military in 1979 and then was with McDonnell Douglas for 12 years.

These days his "favorite" plane is a little more modest. He has about 500 hours on his RV-7.

He built the Vanís quick-build in a year and a half. "I spent 12 to 14 hours every day for 18 months."

How does flying this plane compare to the heavy metal he flew in the Air Force?

"Itís apples and oranges. This is a fantastic airplane. Itís just a delight to fly. Itís like a butterfly on a stick. It will do anything you want it to do. Economical to operate. Inexpensive to own.

"Vanís advertises that youíll come down from your first flight with your ĎRV smile,í and thatís absolutely the truth."

Cindy Hasselbring and Don Musinski from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Cindy and Don have decided that the only thing missing from the North 40 being paradise on earth is a roving ice cream vendor. They are from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and made the relatively quick hop over the lake on Sunday morning.

Don Musinski has been coming to the fly-in since the mid 1980s.

His memories of past AirVentures are not about the airplanes.

"Itís the cultural thing. I tell people thereís no place I know of, anywhere, where you can have like 700,000 peopleÖ. Iíve been to the Indianapolis 500 where youíre walking around ankle deep in trash. Here you canít find a scrap of paper. Thatís the culture here that I find amazing."

Don is retired and now works exclusively as a flight instructor at Ann Arbor airport.

Cindy Hasselbring is one of Donís flight students. She earned her pilot certificate back in February. Sheís a high school math teacher, and she uses her passion and knowledge of flying in her classroom.

She plans to pursue her flight training with instrument flight rules(IFR) certificate soon, but thatís just the start of her aeronautical aspirations.

"Iíve applied to be an astronaut two times now. The first time 1,600 teachers applied, and only three were taken, but I did make the top 100."

Her second application was just in July, so sheís still waiting to hear back. "If I donít make it this time, Iím gonna keep trying."

This is Cindyís second time to AirVenture. She has vivid memories of her first visit a year ago.

"Talking to Julie Clark, talking to Janice Voss, the astronaut. Seeing the air show. Seeing Patty Wagstaff fly like she did, wow."

She was also surprised last year to learn about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

"That was one of my favorite things. I never knew their story. You didnít hear about that in U.S. history class. Hearing those ladies was a true inspiration, because they didnít do what they did for any recognition or fame or anything or benefits. They just did it because they love to fly.

"It was really cool to hear that some of them were still instructing at the age of 80. And one was in an air race, and she got fifth place out of male or female, any age group. And that was what was really inspiring. I hope Iím like them when Iím 80 or 90 years oldóstill flying and loving life. They just had a sparkle in their eye."

But first she wants to find some ice cream.

Visit the "Around the Field" archive at www.AroundTheField.net.

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