Today I finally got to ride in a open cockpit Biplane!
Back in February I won a ride at the FlightExpo auction and today I finally had a chance to go up in the Vintage N3N Biplane. This was my first time in a open cockpit and a Biplane! Don Larson, the owner and pilot of the Biplane, had tried to schedule the ride a few other times, but I was always busy (its been a crazy summer). So he called last night to ask if I wanted to meet him over at the Osceola Airport in Wisconsin on Saturday for their Wheels & Wings event, as he was going to the airshow. So Mom and I drove over (my sister was sick and could not go with us) and the first 40 minutes of the drive was great. No traffic. Beautiful day. Unfortunately we got caught in traffic on the bridge crossing the river into Wisconsin. What should have taken us 5 minutes to drive, now took us over 30 minutes due to all the traffic, events going on in the town of Osceola, all the people there for the Wheels & Wings event, and a car accident.
The day was perfect for flying and an airshow. The sky was beautiful with no clouds, but it was a bit hot. There was also a ton of people, as this was apparently the first year they had the Wheels part of the event at the airport. They were so not prepared for the crowds. So Mom and I walked around looking at the cool cars, beautiful airplanes on the ground, and the crazy airshow going on (later in the afternoon they raced cars on the runway). I eventually found Don and he was ready to take me up in the Biplane, but we had to wait a few minutes for the airshow to end and the airport to reopen.
I love Biplanes! I have always thought they would be really fun, but they are so much more. This lovely yellow vintage N3N-3 NAF (Naval Aircraft Factory) N51H was built in 1941 by the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, was configured as a land and seaplane, and Don told me that there are original parts inside it that originally came from a dirigible factory back in the 1940s! Getting inside the Biplane was interesting, as there are no doors, so you have to kind of climb in. Don gave me a headset, I got all buckled in, and off we went. I was amazed how calm it was (while it was a bit noisy), but it was not windy and it was pretty warm. You sit pretty far down into the airplane and the windshield also helps protect you from the wind. At one point in the flight I tried to raise my arm, but the wind was pretty strong. For a while we flew next to a blue Biplane. I waved. They waved back. Then Don let me fly the Biplane! The Biplane has a stick, instead of a yoke, so that was fun to try and steer with it. I flew the Biplane for a few minutes and then it was time to return to the airport. We landed on the grass runway and taxied back (last time I flew to Osceola we used the paved runway).
Before we left, I bought a black flight jacket- I had wanted to purchase one for some time now and I got a temporary tattoo of a de Havilland Beaver airplane from a little kid selling them for $1.00.