It's mid July and you all know what that means....OSHKOSH! This year was a little different than the previous years because Harry joined me for the trip. We had originally planned to drop him off in St Louis on the way home so he could drive his new Corvette home but that part of the trip was cancelled at the last moment. So I had Harry with me both ways and we had a blast. Instead of flying in to Oshkosh this year we parked the airplane at Appleton. Turns out that was a great location with great ground staff and easy access to Oshkosh. We stayed at a hotel near the Appleton airport which allowed us easy access to the airplane.
The trip over started early on Thursday morning with the plan of flying the entire distance in one day if the weather allowed. Our first stop was at 8U8 (Townsend Montana). This is a good first leg and one we use pretty much every year. We topped off the fuel and launched for our next fuel stop. The weather was pretty rough over eastern North Dakota and into Minnesota so we ended up making a couple of stops. The first was at Devils Lake where we fueled up and had some lunch. This was interesting because there was a guy who happened to be at the airport who drove us into town to a good restaurant and then picked us up when we were done and drove us back out to the airport. You really have to love aviation types!
After lunch we launched for Brainerd Wisconsin. The weather was moving through that area but it looked like we might be able to get in anyway. As it turns out when we got close there was some heavy rain in the area so we make a quick diversion to Thief River Falls. We fueled up, checked the radar, and realized that the weather was starting to break so we once again headed for Brainerd. We ended up getting in with only a little bumpy wet weather. I had sold one of my used oil coolers to a guy on VAF and was delivering it to him at Brainerd which is why we chose that location. As it was getting late in the evening and the weather between us and Appleton was not good we decided to stay the night there. The Lodge we stayed in had a free shuttle to the airport and a good restaurant for a decent price.
The next morning the weather still looked pretty much IFR with a little rain. So we decided to file IFR and go on in to Appleton. It was a good IFR flight with about an hour in IMC (inside clouds with no visibility outside of the airplane). The approach was a bit exciting due to a big red (radar for lots of rain) cell directly over the initial approach fix. We had wrapped our bags in plastic because the canopy tends to wick water in under the aft canopy skirt and that water drips all over the bags. Otherwise the airplane does just fine in rain. As long as there is no heavy convective stuff I don't mind flying in the rain. After one exciting moment when the autopilot disconnected for some reason we managed a good approach and were on the ground, rental car delivered and on our way to the hotel just after noon.
Since we had the rest of the day to play with we drove down to Oshkosh and did a quick tour of the grounds. This was Harry's first Oshkosh trip so this gave him a quick overview of the grounds and it allowed me to see the changes, of which there were plenty!
Saturday morning the weather wasn't looking good but we got up early and headed down to watch the arrivals. We planted ourselves on the sidelines of runway 27 and watched for about 3 hours in MVFR weather (low clouds) before the clouds finally dropped to IFR (instrument flight only). During that time the wind was blowing directly across the runway and gusting up to 22 knots at times. This meant some very interesting landings and, more exciting to us, some very big base to final pattern overshoots. We had airplanes fly pretty much directly at us as they corrected to get back on track to land.
Since the weather forecast was calling for IFR weather for the rest of the day we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. It turns out that there was some decent weather late in the day which allowed about 3 hours worth of arrivals to get in that evening.
Sunday...a day that will live in infamy. Sunday will probably go down in history as the Fisk Furball. It was a pure shit show with some airplanes flying low and slow for HOURS waiting to get in to Oshkosh. If you don't follow the Oshkosh arrival process this wont mean much to you but basically you have to line up several miles south of the airport and then follow the railroad tracks in to a controller who is sitting on the ground at Fisk. He then directs you to what ever runway is open. However you have to stay in single file over the railroad tracks at 1800' or 2300' depending on which path you are on. Well, because of the poor weather on Saturday there were hundreds of airplanes trying to get in all day with some very poor results. There will be lots of discussions on the various boards and forums so I won't go into details but I will say its a miracle that there were no mid air collisions. Tempers were running hot and with the typical type A personality that pervades the pilot community it was a recipe for disaster.
Anyway we stayed at the show for a couple more days and then bugged out early Wednesday morning. We managed to fly the entire distance home against some pretty heavy head winds. I think it was 12.5 hours in the air and at least 15 hours total but when I finally got home (another hour drive) I was beat.
It was fun and I plan to do it again. I really liked the Appleton location and I really liked the hotel versus camping (or glamping at Oshkosh) but who knows...
|The Bailey bomber. This was built by a guy who modeled it after an actual model of the airplane. Incredible!|
|Here we are sitting on the edge of runway 27 on Saturday morning. You can see the low clouds here.|
|My Monday schedule...I actually managed to go to one of these....only one.|
|Tuesday plan....didn't do any of these....|
|This is what I did most of the day on Tuesday....I toured RV-10's on the field. This one had a nice landing light mounted in the lower cowling. |
|I like the metal plates around the tow bar lugs...|
|Ok, this is interesting. Here is an RV-10 with a full deicing setup. Notice the hot prop, leading edge heaters? |
|Interesting antenna location on the leading edge of the cabin top. VOR? Glide Slope?|
|Interesting wing root fairings.|
|Some interesting cloud formations we saw on the way out of Appleton.|