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Q-talk 56 - Mar/Apr 1996 - index

MAR/APR 1996



by Jim Masal


Yup, that was the screaming teaser crafted by one of our U.S. TV media hacks looking for a "grabber" story on an otherwise slow news day. Just what aviation needs - an adoring press. The six local traffic accidents, however serious, reported moments after the lead story were treated only as a minor annoyance to homebound workers.

No doubt about it, Sun 'N Fun was marred though. Two days before the kickoff a Comanche pilot made a frisky turn to final and treated early campers to the sight of a classic stall-spin crash. Three dead. Another goofus ran her Mooney out of gas on approach to the close-by Kissimmee airport. Passenger killed, house damaged.

And then there was Charlie Hillard, 25-year veteran leader of the Eagles Aerobatic Team who gave a stunned EAA crowd his very last performance. Charlie's dead. And it was a deceptively simple accident really. Charlie had just finished a typically excellent solo performance in his fire-breathing Hawker Sea Fury when he somehow lost control of the landing rollout. I saw a good frame-by-frame videotape and the cause is so far a mystery. The Warbird taildragger was down on all three points when it started veering off centerline to the right with the tail coming up. The tail continued up as the ship went off the runway and flipped completely over on it back. It was intact, no fire, but Charlie was dead.

There are many that suspect that the right brake locked up. I saw puffs of smoke coming from the cowling as the tail came up but dam if I know what that means. The remainder of the show was immediately cancelled. The airport got very quiet.

Before that accident, the show ran for 3 wonderful and busy days and it continued unabated the following day. Charlie would've understood.

I can't say this politely with the same impact ... there were a shitload of airplanes at Lakeland this year. The Warbird area exploded this year, homebuilt helicopters ballooned in numbers, especially those cute mini Hughes 500's. And Florida, naturally, is a real haven for development and show of Ultralights and ARV's. This year was a tribute to racers and many oldies but goodies were there starting with 3 models of the Gee Bees. Amphibians abounded, both production and UL. Among the Q's on site, there was a preponderance of local boys:


Pratt FL Q-200 N2192D O-200
France FL Q-2 N1007Y REV75
Williams FL TQ200 N69MV O-200
Hildebrand FL Q-200 N93PL O-200
Fisher IL Q-200 N17PF O-200
Conlin/Benner TX Q-200 N8242K O-200


Williams and France are second owners of planes built by Skiby and Loberger respectively. France's bird is a very bright yellow and looked smashing. Pratt is looking for a second owner for his plane as he has it up for sale. Hildebrand, a refugee from Kansas City, had some pretty nifty ideas in the canopy latching work on his bird as well as a pull-start O-200. You should look for this if you catch him on the ground. He admits to having been inspired by Art Jewett's work. There's that 'ol QBA cross pollenization at work again.

We had a big crowd at our 9 a.m. Sunday forum again. It went on for 2 hours and still we ran out of time! Everybody really got the conversation going strong. Conlin explained that N8242K likes to fly catawampus (3/4 ball out) but goes faster that way than when trimmed straight. Hildebrand told about flying the SNF sprint race and there was much discussion about canard mounting incidence, the relationship between the two positioning. A couple of guys are getting close with alternative engines for both the Q-1 and 2.

I held a second forum (1 hour) at 9 a.m. Tuesday for a talkative but cozier crowd of about 25. I was most interested in the news from Harold Little that an offshoot of T.E.A.M. Co. was developing a 100 lb, 4 stroke, liquid cooled, aluminum block V2 engine that will use some Ford and Chevy internal parts. Call me after 100 hrs. in flight time is all I can say.

The organizing gang at Sun 'N Fun and Florida itself should be proud of this event. Except for a few hours of rain Monday evening, the weather was beautiful. The crowd was large, starting to approach Oshkosh numbers, but well dispersed and orderly. Plenty of vendors in 4 large exhibit hangars and many more lining the wide outside walkways. You wanna good deal? Here's where to get it and you don't hafta wait til Oshkosh.

I arrived at the campground with 3 other Quickers on Saturday about 2 p.m. We spent an hour and a half in a line of vehicles waiting for camp registration and we were finally set up in one of 2 twenty-acre overflow camping areas. That's how popular this thing is. But if you've gotten your feet fried pounding the pavement at Oshkosh, you ain't experienced nuthin' so restful as the people-moving shuttles at Sun 'N Fun. These tractor pulled people wagons cover the grounds like a metropolitan bus system but with more frequent schedules. I got from my camp to the farthest reached of the helicopter area in 30 minutes and with my shoe leather intact!


On another subject: I got a wild hare idea about visiting some states I haven't ever seen. Coincidently I had just earned some free airline tickets. Studying my maps, I saw it was possible to fly in to Seattle and drive thru Washington, across the tip of Idaho and into Montana ... and back ... in one long weekend. I'm taking my QBA roster so you guys up there should be alert for strange phone calls occurring about the middle of May.


Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Tom Moore
QUICKNEWS - by Tom Moore
SUN 'N FUN - by Tom Moore
CLASSIFIEDS - by Tom Moore


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