The Wentworth Aerodrome (WAD) fly-out is an annual gathering of Super Cubs and other similar minded planes and pilots based out of a private grass runway in northern NH. I call this a “fly-out” rather than “fly-in” because a fly-in is an event where people “fly in” from where ever they are from and park their planes until they head home. This event is not like that. Though everyone organizes at “The WAD”, the point is to go flying. If you stop by The WAD during one of the days of the event, unless the weather is really bad, you won’t find us. We’re all gone flying!
The WAD is scheduled to pair with the Ohio Bush Planes (OHBP) “fly-out” around the beginning of Oct. “Bush Planes” you say? …in Ohio?! Yeah, southern Ohio isn’t flat like most of Ohio. It’s more like West Virginia. They find a lot of interesting places to land airplanes. Oh, and a number of factors resulted in the OHBP event being moved to West Virginia a couple of years ago. Those that have prioritized their life commitments better than I head to the OHBP event on about Thursday. They spend the next four days having more fun with planes than should be legal, then they spend the next 4 days “taking the scenic route” to NH arriving at the WAD on Thursday afternoon/evening. Then they spend the next 3-5 days having yet more “more fun than should be legal”.
I managed to get Thursday and Friday off from work, escaping early Thursday morning to up with the OH/WV group as they gathered for lunch at “Island Bob’s” (we’ll meet “Mountain Bob” Sunday), a private grass strip on an island on the Hudson in NY. After departing Brookline I heard a couple of the New England guys departing Wentworth and heading towards Maine to explore the conditions of a few “featured” landing sites. These sites were not a “fiscally responsible” match for my small tires (~21 inches, many were on 31 inch “Bush Wheels”), so I continued toward NY. With time to kill, I enjoyed the early fall foliage and did a couple of practice landings each at Chapin (1B8, Cambridge, NY) and Garnsey’s (B04, Schuylerville, NY). These are a couple of the strips Emilie had landed during a practice day a while back. Since I had been just coaching, I had never landed them. At Chapin I ran into one of the regulars who would join us later in the weekend, but this day he had the cowling off his Champ for some maintenance.
Arriving at Island Bob’s I found 3 planes from the local area that had beat me there and a couple of planes from further west in NY pulling into the pattern right behind me. Soon enough there was about 20 planes on the little grass strip including the prototype Bearhawk Patrol built and flown by Bob Barrows, the designer of all things Bearhawk. We were treated to dogs and burgers while sharing stories and lies. When the social visit one done, we all took off and headed toward Wentworth, some making fuel stops or other detours.
As the day came to an end I think there were nearly 30 planes at Wentworth, and it was still Thursday. I tied the Bearhawk with a set of “Claw” anchors with long spikes hammered into the ground and then setup the tent right next to the plane. We were all driven to Plymouth for dinner and then back to the airport where many of us gathered around a fire pit for the evening. By the time the group broke up and I headed to the tent, there was spotty frost on the grass. The forecast for Friday was not good, but we all went to bed clinging to hopes of be able to escape in the morning and head south to play.
Though I have a “20F” sleeping bag, the temperature ratings of sleeping bags assume that you are wearing your full set of warm winter clothing, and then are still optimistic. Fortunately, Emilie and Isaac were planning to arrive Saturday morning in the RV-4 and camp with me Saturday evening. I had their sleeping bags with me and found comfort by putting my sleeping bag inside Emile’s and zipping up both bags. …zipping up one mummy bag inside an other creates a prison that takes a bit of patience to get back out of! It also helped that the temperatures rose throughout the night; confirmation of the approaching warm front and associated rain.
Friday morning, the rain didn’t start until around 6:00, but hearing it killed my motivation to get up. By the time I dragged my self out of the tent the clouds had won. I walked in the rain to the house where our hosts, Jen and John Meade, were busily making breakfast for the the large crowd. The day was spent mostly hanging out at the house socializing. Mid-day a few brave pilots noted that the clouds had lifted a little and took off down toward the Plymouth airport. When they looked back toward Wentworth there was some concern about things getting lower again. They made it back without issue and parked.
Later in the afternoon, we all headed back to the main hangar at the airport for dinner. The main attraction was the 50(?) lbs fresh Alaska salmon, shrimp and crab that had been brought by George directly from the boats to Wentworth in sealed coolers as checked luggage. I kept waiting to see if the clouds would offer a chance to go flying, but eventually gave up and poured a glass of wine. That was all it took. As soon as I was no longer eligible to fly, the clouds lifted enough for a little play and the usual suspects pounced on the opportunity. The evening ran late at the hangar, but eventually everyone gave up and went to bed anticipating good conditions for Saturday.