Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Air Photography up in the Air

Brennand Airport is a private facility with a paved 2,450 foot runway about ten miles north of Oshkosh. It's the home of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 41. They annually host a fly-in with the general public invited.

Although not a full-service fixed-base operator, it has 24 hour self-service fueling and this little building, with curly columns, housing a nice pilot's lounge and two bowling lanes. 

My purpose in being there was to get an airplane ride and not to do much photography. There was about a half a roll exposed in The original Populist so it went along with the desktop tripod and, just in case, my favorite full-sized Manfrotto and another roll of film. Last year I got the itch to have a more visceral experience flying and went on a ride in an open-cockpit biplane at EAA's Pioneer Airport. This time I wanted to be in the cockpit with the pilot to see what they were doing. There were six planes available, all four-seaters. Making a quick decision, I asked for a high-winged plane so more of the ground was visible but you could still see what the wings were doing. The first available was a 1994 Maule MX-7-160 tail-dragger. It's short-take-off-and-landing and sturdy construction make back-country flying an option.

Piloted by owner Paul Cooner. When I asked if he'd done this before he immediately answered "Three or four times" without missing a beat or changing his expression. Taxiing out to the runway.

The view of Lake Butte de Morte on the left and Lake Poygan on the right with the Wolf River going through Winneconne between the wing's struts. Paul's favorite type of flying is going out with some friends and doing take-offs and landings on the ice on Lake Poygan.

We're required by Visual Flight Rules to stay 500 feet under the clouds that look like they're floating on a level plane just above us. It's actually just a temperature change of the water - liquid above, vapor below.

There were two experiences I'll probably remember all my life.

The first was when Paul told me to take the yoke and keep the plane level and the nose about five degrees below the horizon. I'm afraid I fixated on the spot and seemed to be constantly overcorrecting in both roll and pitch. I got really tense and never took the opportunity to intentionally fly the plane.

The second was the landing. Any one you walk away from, right? We were descending toward the ground in a distinct crosswind with the plane angled to the runway. I was trying to follow the airspeed indicator when at the last second we experienced wind shear. I'd always imagined it as sort of a downdraft, but it's really a sudden change in wind direction, ergo air speed, which when you're that close to landing is the difference between creating lift and stalling. We were pushed toward the left side of the runway and hit the ground pretty hard and maybe actually had a wheel go on to the grass before recovering. It was the talk of the rest of the day. Several different conversations about it occurred next to me. I always injected that it was pretty unusual but he did everything perfectly. Paul told me it was the worst landing of his life. I was never worried about my personal safety, but momentarily was a little concerned about the airplane. After monitoring the winds for a bit and talking to the other pilots, he resumed giving rides.

In the Chapter 41 Hangar the club is building a Murphy Rebel kitplane. The aluminum is only about a millimeter thick but when formed into these shapes is quite rigid.

In a lot of general aviation, the very regulated maintenance is done by the owners. This gentleman agreed that his engine was a lot like the air cooled flat-four Volkswagen engine in my first new car.

The radio-controlled airplane club was also there with a quite elaborate display of aircraft and great enthusiasm for explaining how they worked and were made. My favorites were these with wings made out of crudely folded corregated cardboard held together with rubber bands. They're made for airplane battles, where competitors don't try to knock each other out of the sky, but have to avoid crashing into obstacles while racing which they might have to survive multiple times in order to win.

In my blog post about the EAA Airventure Fly-in last month, I photographed the high contrast cockpit of a Pietenpol Aircamper with a modern engine. It's for sale at Brennand Airport.

When I was given responsibility for the Information Technology Division at the University without any experience in enterprise computing, I hired this youngster to take care of that. He did it quite well and now has a permanent appointment to the job I was only interim in. A volunteer fireman before he came to Oshkosh, he's now busy with the Civil Air Patrol which his daughter's involvement got him interested in. I finally had to tell him to quit getting important briefings for a second and hold still.

Another member of the Civil Air Patrol was rather curious about pinhole photography and we conversed for quite a while. As I heard myself apologizing that she couldn't see the pinhole, realized I could show it to her, but according to Pinhole Assist, only for about two seconds.

Emergency services always have a presence at public gatherings for possible problems, but with an aviation event, I'm not sure if it's reassuring or not.

Another common feature of summer events is a car show including this '65 or '66 Mustang with GT stripes.

A '69 or '70 Mustang with a shaker hood showing off the V8.

Maybe they directed me to park in the wrong place.

These were part of the first two rolls of film I've ever developed in C-41, which turned into more drama than I'd hoped, only peripherally related to the color developing. Stay tuned for what's left of those two rolls.

The Populist has a .15mm electron microscope aperture 24mm from a 24x36mm frame. The film is Lomography 100 developed in Arista.edu's liquid kit.

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