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My First Landing At Oshkosh Was In A Citabria In 1974... At Age 13 (8 Pix)

Here was the Oshkosh 74 campsite with the Citabria in the North 40

3-seat Citabria?

 With OSH14 being just weeks away now, I got to thinking about the first time I made a landing at Oshkosh. I guess I dream about the past since once again I won't be flying into Oshkosh... it'll all be ground-bound again this time around. Nothing wrong with driving in, but of course it's always better to be able to fly in. While things are indeed better for me now than most of the last 5 years, I still seem to have crazy strong headwinds in my life. No matter what direction I go, strong winds are on my nose. It gets tiring, the fuel burn is high, and the ground covered is greatly reduced. Oh well, this is my life.

 Back to that first OSH landing. It was Oshkosh 1974, I was just 13 years old, and I made a nice wheel landing on runway 27. If I remember correctly there was a little light rain at the time, and I know the tail was riding just a little lower than on most of my wheel landings. More on that in a minute. I was in the front seat of our still-smells-new 7KCAB Citabria, which we had picked up at the Bellanca factory in northwest Wisconsin earlier in the year. My dad had taught me early on to fly the Citabria out of the Elgin Illinois airport. The north/south runway there was very narrow and there always seemed to be a crosswind. And I learned in the winter. It was a perfect place to learn to fly a taildragger! By Oshkosh time, still 13, I was quite proficient with the airplane and felt comfortable flying it in various conditions.

 This trip to Oshkosh was a bit unusual. My dad was in the back seat for our flight from Elgin to Oshkosh, which was about an hour and a half long. But today, he was really in the middle seat. My dad had a habit of bending rules whenever it suited him, and for this trip, our Citabria was a 3-seater. My sorta girlfriend/neighbor Cindy, who was also 13, was riding in the baggage compartment along with a small tent and some basic Oshkosh supplies. I think we were still within the CG limits since she was probably only about 80 pounds, but I'm guessing the lack of a seat and seatbelt made this trip a little on the outside of the FAR's.

 Me at 13 with my sorta girlfriend/neighbor (Cindy) in the donut tent at Oshkosh 1974

 Since we had left Elgin with quite a bit of fuel onboard, and with Cindy in the baggage compartment, the airplane definitely was heavier on the tail. If I had been really thinking I would have added 5 mph to the approach speed to compensate, but I didn't. No worries tho, the tail was just a little low as I squeaked the mains on the nice big and very wide runway 27 at Oshkosh.

 I should probably mention that the view from the baggage area in a Citabria is fantastic. The large rear windows extend all the way to the back so Cindy had a great view for the ride. However, the trip back home a few days later was pretty bumpy and she wound up tossing her cookies. It wasn't a big mess tho and we continued on with her feeling better after the upchucking. She was a great friend back in those days and a real trooper for being willing to sit in the back seat of our 3-seat Citabria!

 Below are more pix I found from that Oshkosh 74 trip. There's some pretty cool stuff to see. And of course by now you should now that OSH14 will be the best Oshkosh ever... because the best Oshkosh ever is the one you are at right now! (previous best OSH ever posts: OSH09 / OSH10 / OSH11 / OSH12 / OSH13)

Oshkosh 1974 the day we arrived when I made my first landing at Wittman Field

First year for the War Aircraft Replicas (W.A.R.) and the VW powered FW190

By 1974 the BD-5 was looking like it was really gonna be a success. But nope.

Bill Turner's Miss Los Angeles replica at Oshkosh 74

I've said before, my interest in the Culver Cadet goes waaaay back

Me at 13 taking it all in at Oshkosh 74... it's what I do

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