Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

Return To Title List


There is many an aviator who really does enjoy;
Punishing his body, with the skills he can employ.
Being one with the airframe, which he wildly flings about;
Elated by the "g" loads that push or pull without.
It may well be a taste for this-- is something one acquires;
The little time I practiced these; didn't really light my fires.
Looking up to view the ground, while falling from my seat,
Didn't seem to fill some void that would make my life complete.
But there IS this one maneuver that I will not soon forget;
Involving partial looping, with a half-roll tagged on yet.

T'was named for a German fighter from a long forgotten time;
(Whether Eindeckers could DO one--- not a matter for this rhyme).
A solo Immelmann was on my list to do,
I had had them demonstrated; as a "dual", done a few.

Acquire the four thousand feet-- above the land below,
Do clearing turns required of me; ('til now, I'm like a pro.).
And then I dive the Stearman, 'til it reads one twenty knots,
Pull the stick back rather smartly; shove the throttle to the stops.
Looking back above my rudder for the sky to turn to land;
Making sure my wings are level-(when horizon can be scanned).

With the gear now pointing skyward, hear the engine pop and quit;
Shove the stick a bit more forward-climb inverted for a bit.
The time is now or never-- to initiate the roll;
Push the stick into the corner-add some rudder to the toll.
The trusty sturdy Stearman does all that it can do;
Rotates us rather weakly as we're pointing at the blue.

I feel the stall approaching-know a tailslide is at hand;
Get the stick back into neutral; (no hammerhead is planned!)
It seems to take forever for the front and back to swap;
But now the airplane's spinning--- like it doesn't want to stop!
The gasoline is venting from the wing tank to my face;
That means the spin's inverted-normal motions to re-place!

I feed in counter rudder-stop the spin and merely dive;
Pull backward on the joystick-hear the wires come alive.
As the airplane finds its axis, the carburetor's fed;
The engine comes on full bore and the tach is in the red!
Yank the throttle back to idle-- the airspeed gets a glance;
We're a long ways past the red line-haul the stick and take a chance.

The "G" load is a power as we round along the curve;
The blurring of my vision speaks of blood and optic nerve.
Exchange our speed for altitude (as spots fly in my eyes);
When down to cruise, put down the nose-fly level in the skies.
At first I curse my clumsiness-ashamed of the mess I'd made;
Hoped no one had seen my show-- least no one in the trade!

But then I get to thinking-what this looked like from the ground;
The action quite unbroken as I went from round to round.
It is not so very often that one would chance to see,
A half loop to a climbing roll, and a hammerhead for free!
A tailslide for an encore-- add one inverted spin--
Do a split-ess for finale with sound effects thrown in!

I never did discuss this with cadets or Navy brass,
(Inverted spins "verbotten") for those in solo class.
But as I go to airshows and watch the big boys fly;
I think back to MY "airshow"---and I didn't even try!

Bill Woodall

All content and images on these pages are © 2019 - and William Woodall