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The Flights of “America” 2009

September 19, 2009

Written by Jim Poel

Photo by Ralph Guasp

Photo by Ralph Guasp

This year’s flights went extremely well for the Flying Boat America. The weather cooperated and the crowds were large. Lee and I took off and landed towards the northwest giving the crowd a profile view as opposed to a tail end  take off and head on landing view they had last year. We started a right hand turn and circled for the first pass. After passing the town, we crossed the lake to make a figure eight  pattern which made the next pass from the other direction.  Another figure eight pattern brought us around for the approach to a landing to the northwest.  After landing, we taxied towards the crowd with two fire boats, one on each wing, giving us a water canon salute. It was a beautiful sight and a great show.

On Sunday, Lee and I took off and flew up the east side of the lake with Rob Kinyoun flying off our left wing with two cameramen. Lee flew all the way to Penn Yan and I flew back down the west side. We found that 1450 rpm gave us  63 mph and with the engines in sync, the plane the plane in trim, it was very stable and just a delight to fly. Lee even flew hands off for a short while. I would guess that about 70 per cent of the docks had people on the that were waving. It made us both feel very proud. I took over and circled right around the end of the lake and proceeded down the west side. As we passed around the bluff, we climbed a little so the cameras could get us in front of Garrett Chapel and the Wagoner estate. We then crossed over to the west side and proceeded towards Hammondsport. Near the south end, we crossed  the lake to the east side and made a landing in front of Joe and Helen Meade’s home. They were both out on the porch enjoying the show.

America on the water

"America" on the water

Next, we idled slowly and rendezvoused with the pontoon boat with the extra pilots on board. Lee got off we proceeded to check out a number of pilots. Norm Brush, Barry Holtz, Dick Rogers, Bill Hurlburt, and Bill Bardin all got a chance to fly the America. Bill Bardin and I flew back to the launch site and shut down as we drifted in to the waiting hands of the water crew.

Between Saturday and Sunday we flew a total of 1 hour and 54 minutes. America performed her job with perfection. All the temperatures stayed normal and we didn’t have to add water, or oil.

It’s almost as if we were preparing her to fly the north Atlantic.

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