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Around the Field
Two first-timers, taxiing in the soft grass, and pure fun
Story and photos by Jack Hodgson

Bill Gideon and his Wright-Patterson Flying Club Archer.

Rick Hunt from Columbus, Ohio, with his 1979 Cessna Skylane.

Bill Gideon is here for his first-ever AirVenture. It was not your usual Oshkosh experience.

He arrived Monday from his home in Dayton, Ohio, and due to the soft ground in the North 40, parked on pavement up in the northeast corner of the field. He pitched his tent in the North 40, along with all the other planeless, and enjoyed his first night at the fly-in out there.

Then on Tuesday he was among the wave of planes able to move over to normal parking in the North 40. Conditions had improved enough that they were able to taxi most of the way over on the grass taxiways just off the runway.

“I had to use a lot of power to taxi,” Bill said, “but I don’t feel like I sank in too much.”
As an Oshkosh first-timer Bill is thrilled with everything.

“I love it. It’s awesome. The organization of the whole event is very good. The showers, all the facilities are top-notch. It’s a great group of people, I really enjoyed it.”

Bill flew into AirVenture 2010 in a 180-hp, club-owned Piper Archer. He’s a member of the flying club at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he’s an active duty officer. The club has about a dozen airplanes.

He came to Oshkosh this year in loose formation with a buddy flying a Citabria.

Back home, Bill’s flying is mostly local around the Dayton area. “Every now and then, I take the family for an overnight thing. But typically it’s just local.”

Like so many other aircraft, the brown and white 1979 Cessna Skylane finally found its way to parking in the North 40.

Rick Hunt is part-owner of the Cessna and flew it into AirVenture from its home base in Columbus, Ohio.

They flew by way of the shoreline route past Chicago. Flying the route was uneventful, except for not hearing from ATC very much. “The controllers were talking to only about half of us. I called Chicago a couple times, and they never responded.”

Rick and his two fellow campers arrived at AirVenture Sunday, but they were diverted to Fond du Lac where they parked the plane for their first two days.

But Tuesday they got word they could fly into Wittman Field and park on the grass in the North 40.

Like others, Rick found finally taxiing on the grass to be a little soft but not a problem.

“I could tell it was mushy. I had to have a lot of power on the aircraft. But I tell you what was very impressive was all the marshallers. There was no question about where we needed to go. We just held the GAC sign up, and they pointed the way.”

Rick spent his first two days camping with friends in Camp Scholler, but now he’s pitching his tent under the wing, just south of Runway 9, the way Paul intended it.

Rick’s been flying for 38 years, but this is his first time to the Oshkosh fly-in. In past years, family obligations made it impossible to be here, but now that the kids are grown he’s able to make the trip.

He likes what he’s seen so far. “I think I need to come back many more times to see all of it.”

In addition to just soaking up all the sights and sounds of the fly-in, Rick is volunteering with a program called Youth Aviation Adventure. YAA is an educational program for kids teaching aviation skills. “It’s like the scout aviation merit badge on steroids.”

Throughout the year he volunteers with the YAA’s programs around the country, and here at AirVenture he’s helping staff its booth in Exhibit Hangar D.

Rick is a member of EAA Chapter 9 in Columbus. About 16 of the chapter’s members are in town, and they all got together for dinner on Tuesday night over at the UW dorms.

In addition to flying the Skylane, Rick also logs hours in a handful of light-sport aircraft. He regularly flies a CTLS, a Tecnam Bravo, and a Champ.

He has just two words for what it’s like to fly these lightplanes: “Pure fun.”

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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