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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 7 August 2, 2008     

Around the Field
The 150 from California, the 180 from Massachusetts, and the Not-a-Tri-Pacer from Oregon
By Jack Hodgson

Jack Mason

Jack Mason is one of four Oshkosh friends who fly in each year and park together in the Vintage area near the Hangar Cafe.

Jack is from Maynard, Massachusetts, and he made the trip here arriving on Monday over a week ago. Heís been coming to AirVenture since 1983.

Jim has been flying since he was 14. His father taught him. His dad, who passed away a couple years ago, had a grass strip in his backyard. So there were a lot of chances to fly.

Jim has had many airplanes over the years. In 1983 he built a VariEze, then in 1989 a Velocity. Next he restored a 1960 Cessna 180, and now heís slowly restoring the 1955 180 that brought him here this year.

He also owns a Flightstar two-seater, which he converted to LSA status a while back.

He enjoys coming to Oshkosh because he meets new people every time. "Since I started parking in Vintage, after restoring the 180, thatís when I started meeting all these people in the Vintage area."

Jack gets to fly about 50 hours a year. "Mostly pleasure stuff. Iíll fly out to Marthaís Vineyard, Nantucket. Go up to the White Mountains. Or down to Atlantic City. Or New York City. Itís usually local stuff. My big cross-country trip is to here each year."

Jack is one of a group of four planes worth of Oshkosh attendees who meet up each year. Others in his little Oshkosh neighborhood are from Basin, Montana, and Peoria, Illinois.

Also part of this gang of Oshkosh friends is Jim Hamilton. Jim is from Rougue River, Oregon.

The flight here took two and one half days in his Piper Tri-Pacer.

"Some people ask, how do you get over the Rockies? But when you take that route there are no Rockies. Itís just big, high, flat desert.

"This year was the best trip Iíve ever had. I had 150 mile per hour ground speeds due to tail winds."

His first time was here in 1969 in a J-3 Cub. That was the second year the fly-in was in Oshkosh. He remembers how different things were back then.

"The Goodyear blimp was tied up way down by the Tall Pines Cafť, and thatís where we were parked. And none of this [Vintage parking] existed, this was nothing."

His plane is a 1953 Tri-Pacer. Oddly, his "Tri-Pacer" is a taildragger. Jim explains.

"Iím an A&P mechanic, I do my own work. And I made a Pacer out of it. Most Tri-Pacers now are changed over to Pacers. They only made 70 Pacers. If you see that baggage door, it was never a Pacer."

Why did he decide to convert the tricycle gear Tri-Pacer to the taildragging Pacer? "Well, the nose tire weighs 90 pounds. So that makes it go quite a bit faster."

Mark Nicolayev with his newly refurbished Cessna 150.

Mark Nicolayev has come to AirVenture for the first time this year. And his visit to Oshkosh marks the bitter-sweet fulfillment of a goal he and his father set two years ago.

Mark flew his newly refurbished Cessna 150 to Oshkosh from Salinas, California.

The trip took 18 flying hours, over three days. Flying alone, his route passed, "through central Nevada, up into Salt Lake City. Then Rock Springs, Cheyenne, Wyoming, then through Nebraska."

Mark found the VFR arrival procedure to be another new experience.

"I didnít see many other planes really Ďtil I was about half a mile out of Ripon, and then it was like I was in a swarm of bees. The NOTAM should just read, get in line behind someone else and follow the leader, ícause thatís just about all I did."

Markís plane is a 1973 Cessna 150. Two years ago Mark and his dad, George, began the project of completely refurbishing the plane.

"I took it apart completely, and basically went through everything. Engine, paint, interior, has all been redone.

"My Dad and I started it, but unfortunately dad passed away during the project. But it was far enough along at that point that he got to see what it looked like, but he never got to see it fly again."

Markís dad, George Nicolayev, was a pilot before his son was born, but he gave up flying when the time came to raise a family.

Eight years ago Dad returned to the air. He bought into a Bonanza, and when Mark went for a few rides, "I was hooked," he says. "We were out looking for a 150 a couple weeks after that, and found this one."

They started the 150 refurb project together, and now Mark has completed their dream of bringing it to Oshkosh.

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