Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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Nearly 14 feet from tip to tip the big prop scans the sky,
Its hub is slanted slightly up---as if it's born to fly.
Parked out on the nose of this "bent-wing bird" (with 18 "jugs" behind)-- Dark blue wings cocked over-head-the cockpit view--quite blind.

The step in the flap and those you kick-- in the sides of its shiny side-
One knows when one has made this climb---this will be some ride!
With the "bubble" back and a foot in the seat--a parachute on the hip,
It's time to lower oneself aboard and culminate the trip.

The floorboard spans a gap below-the belly is far away-
The cockpit's big and there is lots of room for hands and feet to "play".
Throttle quadrant's on the left--- replete with levers-three-
(Controls the mixture and the air-- and prop's pitch pedigree).

Fire-bottle manned-(by one on the ground)-and switches all in "rank"-
The cry of "contact" shouted out-and starter engages crank-
Prop begins its sluggish spin and the "big Pratt" clears its "choke"--
With coughs and gasps it comes to life in clouds of whitish smoke.

Rattling cadence finally comes-- as each of the eighteen fires---
The responsive roar from a throttle's shove-confidence--inspires.
The gauges climb as the systems find-- the pressures that are needed-
To extend the wings and other things as the signal-men are heeded.

A taxi dance of "essing" turns--required by these "steeds"-
The long "hose-nose" blinds what's in front-it's side-ways looks one needs.
When "take-off" time has finally come-(though the rudder trim is set)-
A hefty foot on the rudder-(right) will still be needed yet.

Tail comes up from the tail-wheel's stance as the big prop snares the air---
A mighty thrust shoves all back-(including the pilot's "chair").
The need to stop a bad torque-roll-- "keep air speed well in hand"-
Don't mash down on the "retract" switch, 'til well above the land!

The spinning wheels perform their tasks and their retract "waltz" begin-
Axles turn through ninety degrees-(retracting toward their fin).
With flaps in place the airplane's grace is visible once more-
The "twenty eight hundred's" unique sound-a comforting, throaty roar.

With guns nesting in the wings in a six abreast array,
A low pass flown 'oer the ground below--underlines one soubriquet-
With cooling slots in the bent wing form-- within the prop blast's scan-
Enemies called them "Whistling Death"-- when a strafing run began.

Landing one of these thorobreds requires a practiced drill,
Keeping the landing spot in sight--- calls for turning skill.
One wing can stall before its mate and introduce a roll.
Shock rebound could cause a hop-(each can take a toll).

"Bent-wing widow-maker"--- was one nick-name acquired-
But when all things correctly done---performed like one inspired!

When sometime-if you should see--- a survivor of this clan-
Especially one that still is flown---drink it in-while still you can!!

Bill Woodall

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