Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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There was a time when the theory was,
that the air mass was supreme,
That as soon as an airplane left the ground
it was part of the moving stream.

I had heard the theory debated--
just what the result might be,
If the wind did suddenly reverse itself--
what would a pilot see?

The words in the book left little doubt,
"winds blow across the earth",
And except as it changes an airman's pace,
direction had little worth.

However, there was one teacher
who held a different view,
Claimed he witnessed a wind shift,
that troubled a landing crew.

I, for one, did not really believe
that our text book writer had sinned;
The reason this Porterfield "pancaked,"--
more about skill than wind.

One afternoon, (with several cadets),
in the tower, I passed the day;
When a touring Grumman Hellcat,
called for fuel along his way.

We watched as he did his power approach,
with his nose held properly high,
Flew the Navy "racetrack"---
settling from the sky.

He was into the breeze for his "over the fence",
And almost into his flare,
Then the windsock did a one eighty;
and all we could do was stare!

The airplane dropped like a bullet;
though the throttle hit the stop;
It slammed the ground with an audible "boom"
and bounced in a mighty hop.

It skipped again, then began to fly
as the pilot tried to "go round",
But a lot of the runway now was behind;
ahead were a fence and the town.

He hung the fighter on its prop,
and cleared that fence and a tree,
Then dived and zoomed and missed a house;
and then his way was free.

But his trials were far from over,
(for this landing, the other way);
One tire was blown; a gear was bent;
and this time he needed to stay.

He settled in on his good one side,
and held it as long as he could,
But as he slowed and the wings lost lift,
it canted, as well it should.

We'd all seen Stearman groundloops---
but this was some ride for him;
It must have done six revolutions;
as it swung 'bout it's tireless rim.

So, now I guess the way it is---
is that the scribes who write the books,
Should get out from behind their desks---
see the world--and have some looks!

Bill Woodall

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