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The Bamboo Bomber from Minnesota, and David and his boys are building a backyard airport
By Jack Hodgson, EAA AirVenture Today

  

Photos by Jack Hodgson
Paul Rankin with a Cessna UC-78,- aka the T50 “Bobcat.”

(Left to right) Brian, David and Marcus Gitman from Johnsonville, New York.

August 2, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - Paul Rankin is enjoying Saturday morning sitting in the Vintage campground beneath the wing of a big old twin.

He’s been coming to the fly-in since 1984 and enjoys seeing the “more unique” planes.

This year’s memories include the A380 and WhiteKnightTwo; from past years he remembers the Voyager and Concorde visits fondly.

Paul played copilot flying here in the 1943 Cessna UC-78. It was flown by Paul Anderson, who is the son of the plane’s owner, Jim Anderson of Stillwater, Minnesota. Rankin’s wife rode along in the back seat.

The UC-78 is the military version of the civilian T-50 Bobcat.

“This one spent a couple years in the military as an executive transport. Other versions were used as bomber trainers.”

Rankin’s home airport is Lake Elmo in St. Paul, Minnesota (21D). It’s a nontowered field with about 200 planes based there.

In addition to helping Anderson care for the UC-78, Rankin has a couple of Cessna 120 projects that he’s working on.

David Gitman is a 22,000-hour pilot for a large regional airline. He’s from Johnsonville, New York, near Albany, and this is his second time to AirVenture.

Six years ago he was here with a friend who introduced him to the fly-in. “

Last time my friend showed me all around. The whole Oshkosh experience. This time I’m trying to do that for my boys.”

David’s sons, both here with him for the week, are Marcus, 16, and Brian, 12.

David and his boys live on a 300-acre retired dairy farm that they are renovating and expanding.

One of their most exciting plans is to add their own private landing strip.

“We moved a power line to open up a field; we’ll be bulldozing a 3,800-foot runway in the near future.”

“My dream is for when my boys are 40 or 50 years old, and someone says, ‘Where did you learn to fly,’ they can say, ‘Oh, our dad taught us in the backyard.’”

They’re here this week soaking up the atmosphere and trying to decide which airplane(s) they want to bring to their backyard.

The boys are loving their first visit to AirVenture.

“My favorite thing so far,” says Brian, “was definitely riding the helicopter. You were way up there. It really felt really roomy, calm. You could see everything. You could see the Airbus and a whole bunch of people walking below you. It was cool.”

Marcus liked seeing the Predator unmanned aircraft system. “But I thought it would be smaller than it was.”

“Another one of the things I really like about coming here is the air shows,” continues Marcus, “there’s always something going on. I was looking up in the sky and seeing them doing a whole bunch of hammerheads and all different flight tricks.”

On their first day here they did some spur of the moment volunteer work, helping to hand out rain ponchos during one of the midweek rain showers.

“That was fun,” says Marcus. “We were waiting in line for the Airbus. We stopped by and got some raincoats. And we were in line handing them to anyone who needed one. It was pouring.”

“They were definitely put to good use,” adds Brian. “A lot of the line had these yellow raincoats on. It was fun handing them out. It definitely made it seem shorter.”

When asked what airplane they would have their dad buy for the backyard, they have very different preferences.

“I like the Huskys and Piper Cub,” says Brian. “I like a lot of Cessna sized planes.”

Marcus on the other hand wants something bigger. “Small business jets are a lot of the ones I would want. If we had the money, I would want to get one of the airliners that came in.”

Young Brian is the brother who really has the flying bug. His dad, who is also a certificated flight instructor, has already begun some casual flight training with him.

“My dad and I are trying to get me into airplanes so I can get my license when I’m old enough. I have a flight log. It should be good experience.”

Though still only 12 years old, in addition to his plans to become a pilot, Brian already has lofty goals for his life.

“I want to go to RPI and do robotics and aerospace engineering.”

Marcus’ plans are more what you’d expect from a teenager. “Really not a clue.”

Pilot-to-be Brian sees flying as more of a social activity than professional.

“I don’t want to do, like, a job. If I want to, like, go to the beach someday, get a whole bunch of friends in a plane or something.

“That’d be fun.”

All from their backyard.

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

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