Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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There are no flaps on Stearman wings,
(Though they have a biplane's pair),
Was taught the way to scuttle height,
Was side-"slip to the flare".

It took some nerve on those first tries,
As the ground rushed up at me,
To hold back stick and aileron--
Top rudder-(so's to see).

With the low wing skimming near the grass,
I'd shove the rudder straight,
As I rolled in neutral aileron,
The tires and earth would "mate".

It soon was "just a thing one did",
An accepted way to land,
At least in Navy flying school--
Taught to every 'hand'.

But when it came to 'civil' flight,
And a Stearman, I would fly,
The pilot who would check me out--
He was an 'Army' guy.

We did stalls in turns-- and level too--
Checked out the two-turn spin,
I tried to be as smooth as silk,
As I slowed-- to bring us in.

There were poles and wires that blocked our way--
On the final path to land,
So I kept us high 'til we passed them by--
Side-slipped the way I'd planned.

The nose swung 'round and we touched the ground,
Three tires-as one- did 'squall',
I felt pleased-- at the way we'd "greased"-
Been really "on the ball"-

But then I looked at the man in front,
I'd never seen this done-
He'd climbed the cabanes on our up-wing side-
Even now-still clung to one;

He chewed me out for slipping in-
And carrying it so low-
This Army guy didn't land that way-
("Twas a dangerous way to go!")

Well, I heard him out, went off alone,
On the solo ride I'd bought,
But when once more--- I came to land,
Did again what I'd been taught.

Bill Woodall

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