COMMENTARY / POSITION REPORT
Vol. 60 No. 5 | May 2011
Two Lifetime Experiences
A carrier adventure and Oshkosh
WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE IMPACTED your life? I’d
like to share two “experiences of a lifetime” that
have been important to me. The first is something
that was on my “bucket list”—to land and take
off from an aircraft carrier. The second is EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh, which for me has become
an annual “lifetime experience.”
USS RONALD REAGAN
Recently I hosted 15 EAA supporters on board the
U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. I
experienced my first carrier landing and catapult
launch, both of which were unique and exciting.
As a result of living onboard the Reagan for 30
hours, I was able to observe the intense energy
and commitment of the young men and women
who represent our country around the world.
We departed in a COD (carrier onboard
delivery) from Naval Air Station North Island in
San Diego. The flight to the USS Ronald Reagan
was less than an hour. I found out quickly that
sitting backward with no outside windows
makes you wonder where you are. It built
anticipation for what was to follow. When we
landed, the immediate deceleration quickly told
me we had arrived!
As the aircraft door lowered, you could see a
flight deck alive with activity, surrounded by the
On board a carrier, you must be prepared for
extensive walking, while climbing hundreds of
stairs. More than 5,000 people live and work on
the Reagan, making the logistics mind-boggling.
Imagine this: The flight deck and below-deck
hangar are approximately 6-1/2 acres. That
relatively small space accommodates more than
70 airplanes plus launch and recovery operations.
In addition, aircraft maintenance is performed in
that area. The efficiency, planning, and execution
are beyond comprehension.
I was able to stand on the deck less than
50 feet from an F/A- 18 taking off. The thrust
and noise from a full afterburner departure
is indescribable! Night operations were some
of the most exciting parts of our experience.
Out of the black of night, fighters approach
for landing. Upon touchdown they go to full
afterburner, should they miss the “wire.” A few
did, executing a go-around that was a visual
experience of power. The deck crews were an
example of teamwork at its best—something
we all should strive for. (It should be noted that
the USS Ronald Reagan was one of the first U.S.
warships to arrive in Japan after the recent
earthquake disaster—a prime example of the
humanitarian role of our military.)
Each of us noted the young age of the men
and women on the flight deck, performing
important and risky tasks in a professional
manner. Their enthusiasm, focus, and pride
My “life experience” on the USS Ronald
Reagan has deepened my pride and respect for
the men and women who serve in the military.
I salute each and every naval and Marine
pilot who is “carrier qualified.” Your skills are
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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 is approaching.
Excitement is building as we finalize our plans.
I’ve been chairman since 1975. During those 35-
plus years, my anticipation has never diminished.
My goal each year is to make Oshkosh
the best ever. I can say that EAA AirVenture
2011 is shaping up to be just that. Our major
theme is recognizing the Centennial of Naval
Aviation. In addition, we will be honoring
aviation legends such as Burt Rutan and
Bob Hoover. The evening programs, forums,
workshops, and variety of activities will make
Oshkosh your aviation home during the last
week of July.
EAA members can be proud that they
annually create and present the world’s premier
aviation event. For those who have been to
Oshkosh, you know what I mean, and you return
year after year. For those who have never been
to AirVenture, make your dream a reality.
Oshkosh is a shot in the arm for aviation
enthusiasts, as well as the industry each year.
It’s the home of innovation and inspiration, and
it has become the greatest reunion of aviation
enthusiasts in the world. See you in July.
P. O. Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086
Need to change your address or have other membership
questions, call 800-564-6322 (800-JOIN EAA).
EAA Founder: Paul H. Poberezny
Chairman of the Board: Tom Poberezny
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