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Make an immediate left turn

When I was in college one of my good friends was a chap named Wozniak. He was originally from Poland and started flying gliders when he was 9 years old. He came over to this country and had been a crop duster, flying instructor, and the like until he decided that going to college and becoming an engineer was a sounder way to make a living. However he still had his own plane and did some flight instruction to pick up spare change.

He used to take me out flying. This may have been because I helped him with his homework or it may have just been because he liked having a passenger. He did a lot of stunt flying, hammer head rolls and the like. In a hammer head roll, by the way, you increase the attitude until the plane is as vertical as you can get it. It then stalls out. When it stalls you tip the plane to one side and spiral down. Fun. Takes a good stomach.

His best stunt was one where he took a roll of toilet paper and threw it out the window so that it unrolled into a streamer. He then circled with the plane to try to cut the streamer with his wing tips. He could cut it three times. This is very hard to do. First of all if you ever lose sight of the streamer you never see it again. Secondly you have to have a very fine three dimensional sense of where the streamer is, where the plane is, and where they are both going to be. Thirdly you have to cut very tight turns with finely controlled drops in elevation.

One day we flew from Brookings SD to Minneapolis where he practiced instrument landing approaches on an unused runway for a while. These are hard because you have to fly blind, looking only at the instruments and ignoring what your body tells you. We did this for a while and then we came in to land. As we touched down we got a message from the controller "E7437 make a left turn". Well, we can't do it immediately; we just rolling past a left turn. So there we are putzing along in our two seater when the controller says, rather firmly, "E7437 make an IMMEDIATE left or right turn". This we can do; we are just coming up on a side strip to our left and we swing onto it. As we get turned we see a military cargo plane, a C3, rolling over where had just been. It seems the controller had miscalculated how slow a two seater taxis...

Yes, a C3 is very large and our plane was very small. If we hadn't turned it would have been a very flattening experience. We might have scratched the tires of the C3...

This page was last updated July 29, 1997.