Thunder on the Bay page 1

April 3-5, 2009

My EAA chapter was asked to set up a booth at an airshow called Thunder on the Bay held at Keesler AFB right here in Biloxi, MS. I was asked to display my Bearhawk at the booth along with Mickey's trailered airplane so we could show what experimental aviation is all about.

After about a month of sorting through paperwork, filling out forms, and making the phone calls necessary to get permission for a civilian airplane to land at an air force base I finally got permission to fly in for the air show.

Since the airshow started on Saturday April 4, 2009, I was asked to arrive on Friday April 3, 2009. After being put in several holding patterns 3 miles out and then an extended downwind to allow a helicopter and a Gulfstream to land before me, I finally got established on a 5 mile final approach for runway 21 at Keesler. Since there were other aircraft coming in right behind me, I kept my final approach speed at 110 MPH right up until short final, then backed it down my usual 65 MPH and 2 notches of flaps:

As I reached short final, the tower came on the radio and cautioned me about the arrestor cables strung across the runway about 350 feet from the threshold. I looked for them but they weren't marked that I could see, so to be safe, I just aimed for a touchdown point about 1/3 of the way down the runway. The wind was almost right down the runway at 10 to 12 knots so seemed like it took forever to finally touchdown, but I was able to make a nice 3-point greaser for all the on-lookers, professional military pilots and fellow EAA members to see.

After touchdown, the tower had me exit the next taxiway and contact ground control.  Ground told me to hold short of taxiway Alpha. Ground operations was a mess.  For the next 10 minutes or so, I sat on that taxiway with engine idling, waiting while they sorted out where everyone was going. I didn't feel too bad as I wasn't the only one.  There was a B-25 sitting on the next taxi way over waiting as well. I finally got to taxi over and tie down near our EAA tent set up on the ramp.

The Miss'ippi Mudbug sure looks small when parked next to a larger aircraft like the C-23 Sherpa:

Even though there were tons of really cool military airplanes on the field, the Bearhawk drew a nice crowd of lookers for the entire air show, which lasted two days.  I ended up spending a lot of time answering questions and showing people my photo scrapbook of the build process:

I kept wishing that I had some literature to hand out because I had some folks that seemed genuinely interested.

The family all came out for the airshow and to lend support:

Left to right:  Grandson Cole,  wife Michelle, Mom and Father-in-Law Lonnie (my RV-6A and Bearhawk build partner)

Michelle grabbed the camera and had me pose with the family. Ah - there's nothing better than sitting under the wing of your own airplane and watching an awesome airshow:

As you can see, I'm sporting my Bearhawk logo cap and shirt from Bill Fitzgerald's Bearhawk store. No that's not a beer in my hand, its bug spray (not nearly as tasty).

This young man found that my tire was a convenient seat to watch the airshow from:

I later let him sit in the cockpit and move the controls around a bit with his parents looking on.

A member of our local EAA chapter (Jay) brought his beautiful Stearman to the show:

Click here to go to Thunder on the Bay page 2