The Dream Machines show included the opportunity to take a step back in time and experience open cockpit flying the way it was a long time ago. Two vintage bi-planes were offering rides and were doing a roaring trade. The two planes in question were a New Standard and a Travel Air (that lives at Skypark and can be seen up there on a regular basis). The opportunity to sit in the front of these lovely looking machines resulted in a long line throughout the day and frequent opportunities to see them in the air.
The wind speed was actually quite high so, while their downwind legs were quite zippy, any movement upwind seemed considerably more labored. The approach and landing could be made from quite a high initial point with dropping down not needing much in the way of side slipping.
I have seen both these aircraft before but they are still a nice looking pair and, with the hills overlooking the airport providing a nice backdrop, we could get some nice shots.
If you want a rugged workhorse with a substantial payload, you can do a lot worse than the Antonov AN-2. This bi-plane, powered by a substantial radial engine, has been a workhorse of many operators around the world – particularly in the old Soviet Bloc. It might look very dated – production started in 1947 – but some examples were still being assembled in 2001. However, the reliance on Avgas and the general age of the type means it is progressively disappearing from service.
There are still plenty about though and I came across one at Chino as the sun was setting. At first I thought it might be in good condition and possibly a flyer. Getting a bit closer, though, showed that the fabric on some of the control surfaces was coming apart and this one must have been sitting around in the California sun for a while. A shame since they are a mighty thing to see in action. I have no idea what the future is for this airframe but maybe it could rumble into life again.