‘Wings in the Spring’ takes off at Osage City Airport

An experimental aircraft parks nose-to-the-wind at Osage City’s airport Saturday. Photo by Rick Potter.

 

 

A new event added to Osage City’s weekend barbecue celebration seems to have taken flight. Saturday, the annual Smoke in the Spring also featured Wings in the Spring, a fly-in at Osage City Airport.

A recent community conversation about the ongoing expansion project at Osage City’s airport was the source of the idea for the fly-in, organized by resident Mike Handly, who supported the airport improvement project and thought such an event might bring attention to the airport’s importance to the community.

With five airplanes flying into Osage City Saturday, Handly is happy with the results of the impromptu event, which had been planned and organized over the last month.

“I am personally declaring the fly-in a success,” Handly said Wednesday. “The turnout – both in aircraft and visitors from town – was less than I hoped for, but considering the short lead time between  ‘hey, wouldn’t this be a cool idea’ to actual execution I think that we did quite well.”

041214-osage-city-wings-5Handly said that attendance at the show was estimated at 25 people, not counting the group of skydivers at Skydive Kansas, which also assisted pilots in obtaining fuel and with procedures on sharing airspace with the skydivers. He said that high winds Saturday kept many of the invited pilots from attending, due in part to Osage City’s 40-foot wide runway. The runway to be built in the expansion project will be 75 feet wide.

Handly said the pilots that visited were from Chapter 1535 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, of Burlington. He said EAA Chapters in Overland Park, Gardner, Junction City and Wichita were also contacted, and correspondence with those groups indicated they would have interest in future fly-in events.
He provided a description of the five planes that flew in, noting that a Bell helicopter, flown by a Hawkeye Helicopter pilot, also arrived mid-morning and impressed attendees by skillfully hovering into a parking space in the high winds.

The first aircraft to arrive was a Cessna 172, flown from Emporia by Mark Carney. Carney reported that due to the tailwind, flight time was only 10 minutes and his GPS showed the highest ground speed he’d ever flown in the plane.

Also flying in was an antique Cessna 120, flown by Monty and Brandon Neff, of Emporia and Burlington.

Brandon Neff is the Burlington EAA chapter president, Handly said. “I owe him many thanks for his group’s turnout.”
041214-osage-city-wings-3Doug McMullin arrived in a homebuilt RV-6, which he bases in Ottawa, accompanied by Andrew Crabtree in his kit-built RV-7, also based in Ottawa. The two pilots flew in formation as they approached the landing pattern, then landed individually.

“Neither has painted their aluminum aircraft, and they really looked dazzling in the sunlight when they taxied into the parking area,” Handly said.

Possibly the most intriguing aircraft of the day was Doug Wilson’s Pegazair, an aircraft designed by a company in Canada, and which he built from plans, Handly said.

“What is most eye-catching about Doug’s plane at first glance is its paint scheme. It looks as though an American flag has been draped over the plane,” he said.

However, the plane’s performance caught everyone’s attention, due to its short take off and landing capabilities. The Pegazair has slotted flaps and leading edge slats that automatically deploy at low speeds, allowing the plane a stall speed of between 30 and 40 mph.

“With the 20 mph-plus southerly wind, Doug brought his plane in to land at what seemed like an impossibly low speed, then touched down on the plane’s oversized “tundra tires” in the grassy area between the concrete parking area and the runway,” Handly said.

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Wilson has flown the plane to Canada twice for hunting trips, and the plane is capable of carrying the pilot, a full load of fuel, and half a moose. When Wilson took off to leave he used the grass “and took off in what seemed like an impossibly short distance,” Handly said.

In addition to demonstrating the plane’s short take off and landing capabilities, as Wilson left, he pointed into the strong southerly wind, pulled the nose up and modulated the throttle until the aircraft ceased to have any forward motion relative to the ground.

“He ‘hovered’ above the airport for what seemed like the better part of a minute before putting the nose down, adding power, and heading for home,” Handly reported.

Handly said the event would not have been possible without the assistance he received from local volunteers, especially Marilyn Potter, who welcomed pilots and passengers and transported them to downtown Osage City for the Cruis’n and Cook’n Car Show, as well as helped with organizing the event. Other members of the Potter family also assisted, as did Jen Sharp, of Skydive Kansas.

“I can’t say enough about the warm fuzzies the success of this event gave me, as I love to be around airplanes and pilots,” Handly said. “I hope that Wings in the Spring becomes an annual event and that we continue to tie it to the car show.”

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Mike Handly, in orange safety gear, talks to a fly-in attendee about one of the experimental aircraft that arrived in Osage City Saturday for Wings in the Spring. Photos thanks to Rick Potter and Mike Handly.

Doug Wilson’s Pegazair takes off. Video by Rick Potter.


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