For the last full day at OSH in 2006, I had planned to give Steve Campbell a "Familiarization Flight" prior to his first flight in his COZY in a couple of months. I woke, got the departure briefing and ate some breakfast. Steve met me at the plane and we got it ready for departure. We briefed the flight, talked about what we were going to do, and then loaded up.
We flew down to KUNU (Dodge County Regional Airport) and got 15 gallons of gas. I put the rudder pedals full forward and took out the cushion for the left seat, as Steve is 6' 4", and my plane is set up for me, at 5' 7". Even so, Steve had a hard time getting his feet on the pedals (fitting is very dependent upon body/leg length ratios). Steve has moved his seatback rearward 1" to help with fitting.
We took off from KUNU and climbed to 3500ft. Steve familiarized himself with the aircraft in straight and level flight and in turns. We did a bunch of slow flight practice, stalls, both straight ahead and turning, and did some practice approaches to KUNU at 2500 ft. AGL, just to get the feel of the speeds, times, and approach angles. Curt Smith convinced me that flying larger than usual patterns was a good idea to allow the trainee to have more time to adjust, so I tried that with Steve.
Finally, we did three full stop landings and takeoffs from KUNU on the 5000 ft. runway. Steve did fine (especially after we pulled over after the first landing to allow him to take his shoes off, which gave him better access to the rudder pedals). His takeoff and flying skills were fine, and he had little trouble adapting to the different handling characteristics of the canard aircraft. As with most canard flying newbies, however, he wanted to "pull" into a flare on landing, so two of the three landings were a bit slow and a bit harder than one would like (but still safe, and not at all damaging to the aircraft). By slow, I mean only 1.1 Vs, rather than 1.2 - 1.3 Vs. Understanding Vs was one reason to do stalls.....
At any rate, after the third landing, we were done, so we took off and headed back to OSH. We did the standard demo flight arrival, and about 3 miles out Steve handed the controls back to me. We talked to the controllers (as required) and were told to call in one mile SE of the field for a right base to 36R. We did so, were cleared to land, and as I lined up for the runway found myself about 20 ft. left of center while at about 300 ft. AGL. I rolled slightly right, and when I looked out/down under the canard, I saw the bright yellow top of a fabric covered high wing aircraft about 20 ft. below me. I immediately pulled the stick back and gave it full throttle. About 3 seconds later, the controller said "COZY, go round", which is what I was doing. I have NO CLUE where that plane came from - the only thing I can imagine is that he was supposed to be landing on 36L and for some reason slid over sideways while I was in my base/final turn with my belly toward him.
Too close. We went around once and landed safely and taxied back to my parking space. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could have done differently to ensure that can't happen again - coming in lower and doing "S" turns are a couple of thoughts, but I'm open to suggestions. I love flying TO OSH, and I love flying AT OSH - this will NOT have an effect on whether I'll do it again, but it IS an indication that exceptional care must be taken in an environment with so many aircraft (even with only a small percentage of folks that are idiots). We could have ended up in a ball of fiberglass and yellow fabric 1/4 mile off the approach end of 36R.
By the time we got back, it was about 11:45 AM, so Steve and I got lunch and then wandered over to the forum tent so I could set up for the forum. It was extremely well attended (Nat and Shirley were there too!) - standing room only, I was told. Part of that, I'm sure, was the very interesting presentation by Chris Esselstyn about his 12" stretch, O-540 powered, Velocity retract COZY MKIV modifications.
The presentation will be on the website within the next few days, and Daryl/Kim Lueck will be transcribing the presentation and the Q&A's so I'll have them on the web as well.
Verbal feedback indicated that the forum went well - better than my presentation 2 years ago, so that's encouraging. Of course, everyone was VERY interested in the modifications that Chris made, and he's indicated that he may have modification plans available in the future.
After the forum, I checked email and the next day's weather, then went back to the tent, and started planning a route back to Tehachapi from Oshkosh. The southern route looked like there would be wide ranges of T-storms, and I didn't want to fly high over the Rockies in the middle of the day (nor stay overnight mid-way again), so I found a good route over southern Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, down to Las Vegas, and thence home. Planning done (and checked with Curt, who's flown all the routes before and could give me feedback on them).
Later in the afternoon, around 6:30 PM, a bunch of us drove over to Robbins Restaurant for the COZY dinner, which was supposed to start at 7 PM. Robbins seems to be chronically unable to tell time, and I don't think that we actually got seated until 8 PM or so, but it was not a problem - everyone was happy milling around, drinking and talking to other COZY afficionados. For reasons too complex to go into here, both Remi Khu and Greg Norman bought me a Guinness, so after two beers (I usually have about 1 beer/month) I was feeling OK.
Dinner was good, everyone introduced themselves and talked about their relation to COZY's, and we all had a great time shmoozing afterwards. The Luecks once again did a great job of organizing everything and scrounging some great door prizes for folks - even Shirley won one :-). We all hung out till around 10:30 - 11 PM, and then headed back to the tent for a good night's sleep before the long flight home in the morning.
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