One final day of photos from Dave Kalwishky. Enjoy!
More pictures to share from Dave Kalwishky.
Also, Brian is posting pictures to his Facebook page. Be sure to check them out.
More pictures from Dave Kalwishky at Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Enjoy!
For those of us left behind, over the next few days, we have pictures direct from Airventure, courtesy of Dave Kalwishky. Enjoy!!
Brian jumped in the Texan this morning and headed off to Oshkosh for Airventure. I had to stay behind this year due to a severe lack of PTO (time-off) and a looming writing deadline. He's rooming with Craig Sommerfeld so be sure to yell out a big 'hi' if you run into them. My fingers are crossed for great, cooler-than-normal weather.
I woke up this morning thinking, Ugh, Monday again. Like usual, I dragged my butt out of bed, showered, slapped on some make-up, threw on some clothes, grabbed some grub and headed out the door and into my car. I drove about a mile and when I reached the top of the hill my whole mood changed. At least fifteen hot air balloons filled the Des Moines sky. Softly floating under the morning sun. Beautiful, serene, and damn cool. Thank you, balloonists, for giving central Iowa a perfect start to a day.
Did you see the balloons today? Share where you saw them!
I didn't have my camera with me this morning, so you'll have to imagine that Des Moines looked something like this image I grabbed online.
Here's a letter from a recent student of Brian who just soloed in his Stearman. Enjoy!
Today I soloed in a Stearman. Today I really became a pilot. I would not have done this without the love and support of my awesome Wife, and encouragement of my close friend Steve Tyson. Also this was made possible by the dedication, support and encouragement of our friend, flight instructor and Stearman mentor, Brian Aukes (and his team at Half Fast Flying Adventure). There are few things I have done in recent years that have given me this level of personal accomplishment and achievement.
I met Brian Aukes for about a minute at the 2009 Galesburg Stearman fly in. Steve and I were contemplating buying an antique biplane for fun. We didn’t know the first thing about them, or even how to learn about them. Like everyone else who walks up to the pilot of a cool airplane, I asked Brian “Where can I learn more about these?” Brian smiled, not too busy to encourage a new enthusiast and gave me his card, “Give me a call sometime, we’ll talk about it.”
Seven months later I gave Brian a call, telling him that I was interested in learning more about Stearmans. “We are going to be flying this weekend, why not come over.” Brian said as if we had known each other for years. Steve and I went out to Ames and met our new friends Brian and Dan Sokolowski. We spent the morning talking planes, joked around and went to lunch. Then we pulled Brian’s beautifully restored Stearman, #429, out of the hanger to fly. As we taxied to the runway Brian, looked back and saw I was anxious. I really wanted to like flying a biplane, but there was always the chance I wouldn't. Or worse, I might be incurably inept. One test drive in a Jeep was all it took to cure me of those for the rest of my life. “Hey smile” Brian said, “you’re about to fly a Stearman.” That flight was all it took; I wanted to be a Stearman pilot.
Brian and Dan helped us locate a Stearman to buy, N48188, a beautiful well maintained 1940 N2S-1. She is striking in her silver paint with stars and bars. We named her Rocinante. Soon she was parked in Brian’s hanger and we were going to Ames on weekend to learn how to fly her. That sounds simple, but training a pilot to fly an antique airplane, requires not only learning, but the unlearning of years of irrelevant habits. Brian would laugh and say “it’s a little like breaking a horse.” Always encouraging, “We’ll get there, really that was much better today”. Hour after hour, bad landing after bad landing we kept doing our air work and pattern work, and three pointing on concrete, hoping to become Stearman pilots.
There is more to Stearman flying than taking off and landing. There is everything. Everything, from wind, noise, heat, cold, smells, smoke, to how you hold your map, where to write your clearance, how many pencils you have. There are experiences like losing your: pen, notebook, baseball cap, glove, you name it. Don’t get into the plane with something you can’t live without. I have found myself repeatedly checking to see if I still have my wedding ring after a flight. “Hey Brian have you seen my map?” “Yea… last I saw it was passing through 1500 feet on a heading of 310”. We learned to talk about oil in gallons not quarts. We learned to fuel the plane from the least frightening angle. We learned that everywhere you stop you are an ambassador for aviation. Over the next year Brian taught us how to use old tools, new tools, and make tools. We learned how to park, jack, disassemble, reassemble, wire, paint, tighten, and loosen. When it was time for our annual, Brian’s Brother Travis came and spent weekends with us until we got Rocinante ready for the next season. This was all part of becoming a Stearman pilot.
Now, at 9:30 AM in the morning June 13th , a year and 2 days after buying Rocinante, I am going to solo. I’m excited, feel prepared, but I’m nervous, mostly because I want to hold up my end of the deal; I don’t want to let everyone down. Earlier this year, I was standing next to Rocinante when someone walked up and said, “That is a real time machine.” “You bet” I answered, talking about the fabric wings and vintage paint. But today, as I nervously sit at the end of the runway contemplating what I am about to do, Rocinante gives me a ride. I’m overcome by the sensation that I am 16 again, getting ready to push the throttle forward on my first solo, I’m scared; I don’t want to make a mistake, but I want to be a pilot more. I look over to the approach end of the runway to see my Dad, he’s watching me, he gives me a smile and waves me on, I push the throttle foreword and go. Now, 31 years later; I can’t help but look over to the approach end of the runway. My Dad has long since passed away, but I feel him there, he waves me on, I push the throttle foreword and go. A blast of power and cool air, and I’m off, everything Brian has worked so hard to teach me plays out as would be expected. Smooth on the controls, set for the proper approach, keep coordination, three nice, uneventful landings. As if that is just the way we do it. But today, I am a Stearman pilot.
Thanks Brian, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you.
We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way
Baa baa baa
Today's trivia: guess what type of aircraft Brian sat in this weekend! (see pictures for hints, too!)
This isn't aviation-related, but I thought you'd still get a kick out of it. After burying Brian up to his knees in the sand, he had a bit of fun channeling his inner Tim Conway. Enjoy!
We're baaack! For the past week, we've been soaking up the sun in Bermuda. The weather was great, the company was great, and the beer was cold. We're unpacking our bags and sifting through pictures. In the meantime, here's a couple more photos from the 2011 Quad Cities Air Show, courtesy of Dan Sokolowksi. Have a great weekend!
Brian and Rachel Aukes are aviation nuts based in Iowa. They love to fly, and when the weather keeps them on the ground, they love to talk about flying. When they aren't in the air, Brian keeps the airplanes running while Rachel cleans them and keeps this website running.