A New Viewpoint

I attended the Robins Air Force Base Air Show this year, as I have almost every year it has been held. For most of my 32 years I have lived in the shadow of Robins, and have always enjoyed watching aircraft fly in and out of the area. The air shows have always been a great part of that tradition for me, but this year was a bit different; this was my first year attending the air show as a pilot in training.

A few months ago I began flight lessons in a Kitfox II, working towards my Sport Pilot License. For those who don’t know, a Sport Pilot License is a Federal Aviation Authority rating that only requires a minimum of 20 hours of flight time to get. It puts limits on many things though: the conditions you can fly in (visual flight rules only), the type of aircraft you can fly (limited by weight, power and speed), and restricts you to only one passenger at a time. The Kitfox II is a homebuilt aircraft with some unique and challenging flight characteristics.

A Kitfox II similar to the one I have been learning on. Note the open doors; it’s the only way to fly!

I could write an entire blog, or two, or three, about the Kitfox and the joys of learning to fly (and maybe I will soon). But to stick to the topic at hand, this was the first airshow I have attended as a pilot in training. It was amazing as usual to see the aerobatics of Patty Wagstaff and the graceful power of the Blue AngelsDiamond formation.

The Blue Angles Diamond formation.

This year though, I was more interested in the small details. As a rookie pilot who is still finding it challenging to simply land or take off in an aircraft, it was incredible to watch the control the pilots at the airshow had. The diversity of aircraft types and flight profiles struck me as intriguing as well. Take for instance the Kitfox II at one (tiny) end of the scale, and the C-5 Galaxy at the other end. To illustrate this example, here are two videos. The first is some Kitfox II takeoff, flight and landing footage shot by a good friend of mine and used here with his permission. The other is the mighty C-5 Galaxy and is from the HD Plane Spotting Youtube Channel (a great resource for some amazing aircraft videos). Enjoy the videos and think about how different, and how similar, the two aircraft are.

 

– Arthur Sullivan, Assistant Curator

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