TRIP TO AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH, 2012

 

AUGUST, 2012 -

Karla and I got up before dawn Saturday 7/21 to go to Oshkosh.  As usual when planning a "first light" departure, the weather was not cooperating; some of the thickest fog I’ve ever seen at Springfield, VT - KVSF.  By 0730, it had burned off enough for us to depart, so we headed for our first stop at 5G0, Le Roy, NY – just east of Buffalo.  We found out later that Dave Bridgham was passing over Springfield on his way from Claremont to Oshkosh in his float plane as we were taxiing. 

We planned 2 refueling/pit stops in order to keep the leg times down to a couple hours.  We did Flight Following all the way, and flew mostly at 4500’ and 6500’ above scattered clouds.  The day’s flights were smooth.  We landed in quiet little Le Roy, refueled, filed a flight plan to go over Canada, and took off again after about an hour on the ground.  We flew over Ontario and into KMOP, Mount Pleasant, MI.

When we left KMOP, I was holding short for a plane that was landing, but I didn’t make note of the tail number.  I later found out it was Tate Picard coming in from Lebanon.  Also, as we were departing KMOP, I heard a plane landing and he said he was a float plane, so I asked him where he was coming from.  He said "New Hampshire", so I realized that was Dave Bridgham.

After leaving KMOP, we contacted Lansing FSS as we approached the shore of Lake Michigan, to arrange for Lake Reporting Service over the lake.  No issues crossing the lake at 8500’, and after we were over land again, we began our descent for Oshkosh. 

Actually getting into KOSH was quite an ordeal; it took us about an hour to go the last 10 miles.  Even with my new and greatly improved vent system for the RV, it was uncomfortably warm.  In my effort to make sure I was stable at 90 knots and 1800’ by the time I reached Ripon, I set it up sooner than I really needed to – about 15-20 miles out, so we were already plenty warm by the time we got to Ripon.  We flew over Ripon, then followed the tracks toward Fiske.  Unfortunately, the plane ahead of us wasn’t flying anywhere near 90 knots, so after Fiske, we had to peel off and go back to Ripon.  After a couple attempts to blend into heavy traffic at Ripon, we got in line again for Fiske.  We were past Fiske and nearly to the downwind for 27 when they said they weren’t accepting any landings on 27 for awhile, so we had to go back and circle Rush Lake.  Apparently the mass landing of Mooneys was taking place on Rwy 36 and one of them had collapsed a gear.  Why that would shut down 27, I don’t know, but it did.  On the way to Rush Lake, there was a lot of radio chatter because someone in an RV-10 was circling Rush Lake CLOCKWISE.  They finally got him straightened out and going the right direction. 

Sometimes I wonder why I fly to fly-ins, where I’m put in close proximity with pilots who shouldn’t be flying.  Some people were flying the Rush Lake pattern several miles out, instead of as depicted in the NOTAM.  The RV-10 was flying it backwards.  Some were flying it at about 3000’.  Each of the numerous times we went down the tracks between Ripon and Fiske, there were planes all over the place, nowhere near being over the tracks, and at various altitudes besides 1800’.  And one of my favorites at AirVenture or Sun N Fun - there are always the pilots who haven’t read the NOTAM and feel compelled to read back every call from ATC.

Anyway, after nearly an hour of this fun (I did three 15-minute fuel tank switches during all this), we landed on 27.  After landing, ATC didn’t do the usual "pull off on the left grass as soon as able" announcement, so I made the mistake of pulling off to the RIGHT onto the taxiway toward the end of 27.  After doing that, I realized it meant an extra long taxi to get to HBC.  So we bounced along the rough ground all the way down past the end of 27, around the end of it, then back the entire length of the North 40 to where we finally got on some pavement.  It was hot as hell, and my CHT was climbing throughout this seemingly endless bouncing taxi – I was on the verge of saying to hell with this and just pulling over and shutting it down, but CHT finally stabilized in the low 390s.  If it had hit 395, I was going to shut the engine off and cool it down, regardless of where I happened to be.

We were directed to Homebuilt Camping, parked, and set up our tent.  Usually, we like to watch landings and listen to the ATC radio on Saturday afternoon, but by the time we got to HBC, we had had QUITE enough of all that.  In fact, I shut off my radio during the taxi, as it was getting irritating just listening to it.

 

  This is our campsite at the field of RVs.  The big plastic tub with FedEx painted on it is our camping gear we had shipped to AirVenture.  With Karla and me and full fuel, the RV is at gross, so we shipped about 60 pounds of gear out and about 75 back.  We also only put in 30 gallons (vs 38) at each refueling, to allow for what gear we did carry.

On Sunday, we had a great breakfast at LaSure’s, then began volunteering for driving the Homebuilt Welcome Wagon.  We did a 4 hour shift nearly every day we were there.  We enjoyed doing that, and it was a great way to get around, help people out, see everything, and meets lots of people.

On Monday, we had breakfast with Tate and Dave at the new North 40 Cafe, then we did our primary goals there – Karla wanted a special shirt made by a vendor in one of the commercial buildings, and I wanted to check out the latest ADS-B offerings for iPad apps. 

Last year, there was only one ADS-B, for WingX, and it was $1000-1200.  I didn’t buy it, though, because I figured more competitors would be coming out with iPad ADS-B devices, the features would improve and the prices would come down.  At Sun N Fun, Sporty’s announced an ADS-B for ForeFlight at $800, so I especially wanted to see if they had any show specials on that.  They didn’t – they said their "show special" was simply that they had them available.  I also found 3 more vendors offering ADS-B for WingX, but all 3 were promising that the product would be available in the fall. 

I didn’t go to every vendor in every commercial building, as I’ve done in the past – there isn’t much more I need, besides an ADS-B for my iPad.  In the past, when I was building and especially when I was getting started in building, I’d spend each entire day in one forum after another.  Now that I’m not building and have already seen every recurring forum of interest, I don’t attend nearly as many.  I went to about 4 or 5 of them during the week.

Monday was BLISTERING hot – 104 degrees.  It was so hot during the day that we didn’t even want to go out into the sun to see anything, so mostly we just sought shade.  Monday night was pretty bad trying to sleep – quite humid and in the 80s even at night.

There were a couple new restaurants available, so food selection was better than in past years.  They serve a nice breakfast buffet at the new North 40 Café, and there’s a new place near the main plaza; Fratello’s.

Tate left Tue evening.  In hindsight, we probably should have, too.  We had planned to leave Thursday or Friday at the latest, but weather was bad in New York and New England, but predicted to get better by Saturday.  By Thur, we’d pretty much seen & done everything we wanted to.  On Thur & Fri we were just hanging out, looking around, plane-dreaming, relaxing, attending a few forums, and driving the Welcome Wagon.

 

  Tuesday evening, we went to a party for past & present Eggenfellner customers, put on by Pete Krok, who has done a lot to try to consolidate info on solving the Eggenfellner problems.  It was a great party and it was great to meet Pete and the other Eggenfellner customers.

 

  One morning, six balloons launched from the Ultralight area.  This lovely F1 Rocket from Arizona was parked next to us all week.

On Wednesday, it was again very hot – nearly 100 degrees.  We went to a forum by Jim Bede (very interesting guy) in the EAA Museum, then toured the museum afterward, savoring the air conditioning.  We drove the Welcome Wagon that evening (4-8).  A passenger asked us to drive by the planes that had been wrecked by the big thunderstorm that had hit OSH.  We said "what thunderstorm?" Apparently, while we were in the Museum, a big TS had hit and tossed a small (newly finished, I heard) plane up onto a Thunder Mustang.  We had no idea there was even a problem.  We were told the winds were pretty bad for awhile, wreaking havoc with vendors, forums, tents, etc. 

After looking at the 2 damaged planes, we decided to swing by our plane & make sure it was OK.  The plane was OK – the tail was just moved over about a foot – but the tent and contents were completely GONE.  After much driving around the HBC area in the Welcome Wagon, we finally found the tent about 4 rows away, beside Ralph Inkster's  tent.  I knew Ralph's name from the Eggenfellner STi world (he built a turbocharged STi RV for someone in his native Calgary area), but I'd never met him, so that was quite serendipitous.  I wanted to chat with him more, but we had to leave then, and unfortunately I didn't see him again that week.

Anyway, incredibly, the tent was upright, undamaged, and even dry inside.  Several people helped us pick it up & carry it all back to our plane.  Many others were not so lucky – people all over had all their stuff get just DRIPPING wet.  There was gear out all over the place, with people trying to dry it in the evening, without much luck in such humidity.  We also heard the wind blew over many Port-A-Potties – yuck; watch where you step.  The next day, there were lots of busted up tents, canopies, and sleeping bags in the dumpsters.

 

  I just happened to take this picture in the Replica Fighter area, just east of where we were camped, early in the week.  The little yellow biplane in the background got picked up and slammed onto the Thunder Mustang in the storm, smashing the canopy on the Thunder Mustang.  I don’t know if the Mustang had any other damage.  It disappeared from the grounds that evening, and the remains of the other plane were gone the next morning.  Before the storm, this Thunder Mustang won a Bronze Lindy in the Military Replica category.

 

  This is what was left of the yellow biplane.  No prop, no wings, no tail.  Huge bummer.  I heard the builder had just completed it.  I also heard neither this plane nor the Thunder Mustang had insurance.  I sure hope that rumor was false.   A VAF poster said he "Spent some time talking to the builder of the Fokker D.7 replica "Fat Fokker".  Awful nice fella.  He hadn't even flown off his 40 hours yet...trucked the aircraft in to show it off."
 

  I found this pic on VAF (by moll780)- showing the 2 planes before they were pulled apart.

 

  This pic from VAF (by Brantel) shows it from another angle.

 

  Some people stuffing their busted up tent into a dumpster the next day.

 

  Several damaged canopies piled along the fence near a dumpster the next morning.

 

  They had several machines like this that went all over the grounds the next day, vacuuming up the mud puddles.

Friday morning was great – almost downright cool.  It warmed up into the 80s by afternoon, though.  It was the nicest day there.

We had wanted to leave Thur, but bad weather in NE was predicted to be gone by Sat, so we hung around to Sat.  On Saturday morning, the weather report was still bad in NY, and the briefer said "maybe Sunday".  After much pondering and dithering to about 1030, we decided to at least go as far as Port Huron, the last place in the USA before Ontario.  We packed up, took our plastic tub to FedEx, and got in line for a Runway 36 departure about 1130.  We went over Lake Michigan at 9500’ via Grand Rapids FSS Lake Reporting Service, and got to PHN just fine. 

Western NY had been reporting lots of bad weather, so we looked into staying there at PHN, but no rooms available due to some big boat race that weekend.  So we checked weather more and decided we could at least get to the Buffalo area, perhaps as far as Rome, so off we went again at 3500’.  As we approached Buffalo, Rochester’s bad weather was breaking up some and we went north of it, but Syracuse & especially Rome were not looking good.  All of central VT & NH was showing green on the radar.  Flying over Niagara Falls at 3500’ was a cool sight. 

So we went to KFZY Fulton (NW of Syracuse) and landed.  No ^%$#@! rooms available there either! We met 3 pilots from the Lakes Region there who were in the same predicament.  We looked up info on my iPad, called around to various airports, and found the last 2 rooms available in Ithaca, 60 miles south and again just west of where bad weather was happening.  It was also getting late in the day by then, so no one wanted to try scud running over the Adirondacks & Green Mountains in fading light.  So we piled into our planes and flew to Ithaca about an hour prior to sunset.  We got our rooms and had a nice dinner and chat with the other 3 pilots at Pizza Hut.

The next day, it was MVFR at ITH and IFR at VSF & LEB.  RUT was reporting VFR, so we decided to at least get to Rutland & see if VSF cleared up some by the time we got there.  The other pilots apparently left quite early, although the radar was showing central NH, especially the Lakes region, all green & some yellow. 

By the time we left ITH, around 1030, it was VFR and things clearing some, but LEB & VSF still reporting IFR, although still VFR at RUT.  We went at 5500’ for awhile, but eventually had to go to 3500’ after the Adirondacks.  Then we were at 4500’ awhile, then I think we were at 3800’ awhile.  They weren’t the altitudes we were supposed to be at, but they were the altitudes required to (just BARELY) avoid clouds & terrain and not lose radar or radio contact with Flight Following.  ATC never said anything about it when I reported being at unusual altitudes.  As we got to Vermont, Springfield was reporting VFR, with 7000 broken, so it looked good ahead. 

After the peaks of the Green Mountains, we were down under 3000’ and I had to cancel Flight Following via a CAP relay because we were too low for FF radar or radio with Boston Center.  I got the Springfield AWOS, and winds were favoring Runway 5, so I planned to approach from the north.  We went by RUT & it looked good & mostly OVC to the east but barely high enough that we could see the tops of the hills in the distance, so we weaved our way like a slalom between clouds and hills.  After Rutland, I knew approximately where we were, but not exactly.  We were looking for Mount Ascutney, but not seeing it and not yet recognizing the terrain below.  I knew we hadn’t come to the Connecticut River yet, so we were definitely still in Vermont.  With clouds & terrain so close and autopilot off, there was no way I could take my eyes off the view outside, so the GPS and iPad weren’t much help at this point.  When we came down the valley and went by Mount Okemo (below the peak), at first I thought it was Ascutney, but then we realized the ski slopes were facing east, not north, so it had to be Okemo.  So then I knew exactly where we were, and we weaved our way down the Route 131 canyon from Ludlow to Downers Corner and turned south for the final approach to VSF.  At that point we could see that trying to go only a couple miles further east would have been impossible – totally black and very low.  The top of Mt Ascutney was buried in clouds, too, which was why we hadn’t been able to spot it.

We landed at Springfield with no problem.  The black wall to our east was moving toward us.  Within 10 minutes after getting the plane into the hangar, it started raining.  Within 30 minutes of arrival, it was pouring.  While flying the downwind for Rwy 5, I could see that the reported 7000 broken at VSF was just a little hole sitting over the airport, surrounded by OVC at about 2500-3000’.  I’m glad we didn’t try to come in over the clouds we were seeing and under the claimed 7000’ broken.

 

  This was the view to the east, shortly after landing.  It was white clouds and not as low to the west, where we came from.

We plan to try staying in the dorms the next time Karla goes.  She is VERY glad to be in her own bed now.  She was missing it all week.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  There may be a cooler plane than Jim Bede’s BD-5J, but I can’t imagine what it would be.  I drool over this every year.  This one was built over a 15 year period by Donald A. Wall of Omaha, Nebraska.  He’s never flown it, as he had quit flying by the time he finished it, but it has flown.  He trailers it to AirVenture every year so people can get to see one.

 

  We saw the SubSonex JSX-1 proof-of-concept jet kitplane fly.  Very cool.  According to AirVenture Today, it uses a PBS TJ-100 engine, and "a JSX-2 is already under construction, with enhanced features".  If they offer this in a kit, I could see myself being quite tempted.....  Not as cool as a BD-5J, but much better supported.

 

  Here is an RV-10 with a Dimech Turbine Solution turbine from Deland, FL.  The turbine company owner is building the RV-10.  As usual, lots of "details" remain to be worked out.  I believe he said this engine is some 275 pounds lighter than an IO540.  He moved the batteries up front, but he said the additional fuel a turbine requires is near the CG, so I never did get a good answer on how he plans to balance the rest of the much lighter front end weight.  I hope he has better luck than the last RV turbine attempt – the ATP (later called Innodyn, then Rivers Aeronautical), which went bust before producing anything.

 

  Another swoopy new design, called the ArrowCopter.  Many of the sexy new designs I’ve seen over the years, like the ViperJet and many others, are no longer in business.  Maybe this one will "take off".  According to the 7/26 AirVenture Today, it's an AC10, which "is the kit version of the two-place tandem AC20 autogyro manufactured by FD Composites in Austria".  The AC20 was just certified June 22 in Europe.  The AirVenture Today article says the company is planning a builder-assist program to streamline the build process to two weeks.  "Price will be around $150,000".  That's an awful expensive kit!   Learn more at www.Arrow-Copter.com

 

  A rare Prescott Pusher, built over 11 years by Ole Sindberg, Cary, IL, and flying since 1998.  About 200 mph cruise.

 

  The Ion 100 E-LSA.  Target kit price $47K, claimed 500 hr to build.  I assume "target" means not really available, but maybe some day.  For $47K, I sure hope that includes engine.

There were huge lines at the GoPro booth.  I asked why, and was told they were selling their POV cameras at a substantial discount. 

We went to a forum by Rod Machado, but even 10 minutes before it started, it was standing room only, all the way out the doors, so we left.

I went to a forum by Bob Richards, former ATC controller.  He’s quite an entertaining talker.  I had assumed it would be a learning experience, but it was more of an entertainment experience, which was great.  He has a book, "Secrets From The Tower", which I hope is as entertaining as his presentation.

I also attended a couple FAAST forums.

AirVenture Today reported that Glasair Aviation LLC, makers of the Glasair, Glastar, and Sportsman lines of kit-built aircraft, has been sold to a Chinese company.  Disgusting.  Judging from the comments on the article HERE, I'm not the only one who thinks so.  I suppose Chinese ownership is better than them going out of business, though.

AirVenture Today noted we celebrate 30 years of Part 103 ultralights this year.

There were a couple RVs in HBC with STUNNING $30-50K airbrushed art paint jobs.  I know one won a Bronze Lindy.  I don’t think the other one won anything, which is surprising, but I suppose the judges look at more than just paint.

  This is some of the airbrush art on every surface of this "American Angel" RV-8, even the bottoms of the wings.  The plane won a Bronze Lindy.   Paint by owner, John and Patti Stahr, Eugene, OR.

 

  This RV-8 from California, called High Roller, had a fabulous airbrushed cards and dice theme.  The backs of the cards on the wings were airbrushed onto the bottoms of the wings.  You can't really see it in the pic, but the gold stripes are full of ghostly airbrushed card images, too.

 

  While not as fancy airbrush art work as the previous two, this RV-7 from Texas, parked in front of us, was quite striking.

 

  The plane that started the most successful kit company ever – the RV-1.

 

  On Monday, Van’s Aircraft announced and displayed the new RV-14.  Rumors about it have been swirling for months on Van’s Air Force forum.  It’s like a larger RV-7A or a two-seat RV-10.  It's powered by a Lycoming IO 390 and has 50-gallon fuel capacity.   For more details on it, see HERE.

We checked out the progress on the Terrafugia Transition flying car LSA and the Icon A5 flying boat LSA.   I’ve been following their progress for several years.  Both are very cool planes.  Both are now saying they expect to have something on the market by the end of 2013.  Icon in particular doesn’t seem to be saying anything new at AirVenture 2012 that they weren’t saying at AirVenture 2011.  Pricing for the Terrafugia is upper $200Ks, and upper $100Ks for the Icon.  I wish them both all the best, and hope they make it.

 

 

  Ford had a lot of cool old and new cars parked near HBC, including this GT.

 

 

  Being the 75th anniversary of the J3 Cub, there were hundreds of them parked out in the Vintage area.  Pic by ScottSchmidt on VAF.

 

For more great AirVenture 2012 pics, see THIS THREAD and THIS THREAD on VAF.

See my other trip reports HERE

 

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