Oshkosh AirVenture Day T-3
I have been planning for AirVenture Oshkosh for several months since I decided to go retro and actually camp in the North 40. I had written an article critical of the EAA Board not being connected to the membership and I thought they needed to be. I then announced that I would be camping since I felt I had missed some of the real spirit of AirVenture by staying in hotels and private homes. The EAA PR person said that they indeed have Directors who camped. Unfortunately, he was talking about camping in air conditioned motor homes which is somewhat akin to yachting.
I kept Amazon busy getting the necessary gear since I had long since given my non backpacking stuff away. I also decided to take by two grandchildren, Abbi and William, who are 13 and 10 respectively, so they could get the real feel Oshkosh.
I had loaded most of the Rubber Chicken 340 about a week ago so we would be ready to hit the air early on Saturday and arrive in the early afternoon. Planned to stop in Staples MN to take advantage of their cheap fuel ($4.88).
I do not care how many times I have been to Oshkosh, I still get excited to get there. The last hour of the trip before landing is always the longest as I look forward to seeing friends made over the years and new friends to make this year.
Oshkosh AirVenture Day T-2
Got the grandkids up early to we could get an early departure. Stopped by the bagel shop on the way to the airport to feed them. We were actually on time. Once we got the hangar, we loaded the personal luggage (the only stuff left to load) and took off. Totally clear day out of Driggs Idaho and as we traversed Jackson Hole, we climbed to 17,000 MSL to take advantage of the 40 know tail wind. Could probably have made it to Oshkosh nonstop but had there been any delays, we would have had a low fuel problem. One of the things about being an “older” pilot is not being so daring.
We stopped in Staples Minnesota which had two advantages—cheap fuel and by taking us north, we avoided a cluster of thunderstorms over South Dakota and Southern Minnesota.
We proceeded from Staples direct to Oshkosh avoiding a restricted area near Staples enjoying the same tailwind. Started out at 17K IFR but canceled near Ripon. We joined the line and it literally got so crowded that when we landed, the controls had planes in the pattern fly a race track down the runway and downwind to space all the traffic coming in from Fisk.
Once on the ground, we were rescued from a long line of singles going to the camping area by a parking marshal. Since twins have separate rows due to size and blast issues, this saved a lot of taxi time.
Out of the plane at last and on the hallowed soil of KOSH, row 516, my almost regular row. Although we are camping, I do arrange for a rental car which helps with getting off airport and hitting the grocery stores and other off campus events.
Setting up the tents with two kids is an interesting event. I thought we would have a fairly large “facility” until I saw the Taj Mahal a couple of planes down. We were slumming.
After getting camp set up, we hit the Pic and Save for groceries. Brooks Hurst from Tarkio dropped by for beer with Air Boss Wayne Boggs. Brooks ended up stay in one of our tents since his hotel room was not ready till tomorrow. He was still functional after sleeping on the ground the next morning.
What is great about camping are all the folks in the campground. Meet folks from St. Louis, rural Georgia, New Jersey, and Kansas in just a short evening.
Oshkosh Day 2
Day two opened with the 0730 safety briefing. I attend as one of the airshow “doc of the day” which could be dock on the bay but whose interesting in inadvertent rhyming—or I am just tired sleeping in a tent with 0730 meetings!
Attendance is up. The Osprey is pretty amazing. The crowd has actually cheered at the short field landing and takeoff competition and no mishaps except one wheels up landing in Appleton (no one hurt-pilot error).
My lecture on Special Issuance Medicals was well received with lots of questions. I hope it is my last lecture on the subject with what I think will be a great step forward—discontinuance of the 3rd class medical in the near future.
Got to catch up with Mike Goulian and Patty Wagstaff—true airshow professionals. Patty is performing on Wednesday. Michael performed today and did his normal awesome job.
Went to the Aircraft Parking party at Steve and Pat Owen’s house. It is always great to be able to thank these folks for their hard work and sometime thankless jobs. Remember, they are volunteers trying to accommodate a large number of folks. Give them a break and thank them profusely.
Also went to the ICON party for a few minutes to catch up with the usual suspects. Party is always great but will be more exciting when they have a production aircraft.
Rain and thunderstorm came in tonight. Pretty wet but no damage. Hope this pattern does not continue all week.
Oshkosh Day 3
Great weather for day 3 with large crowds. Busy day included two airshows—normal afternoon and evening one ending with fireworks and the “wall of fire” which is a juvenile display of dynamite and gasoline blowing up for no other purpose than to blow something up for elementary school kids. If you are going to blow something up, let us try something that needs blowing up instead of wasting fuel and polluting the air.
Gave my regular “through the fence” forum. I hope this forum will become moot as this issue fads away as a bad memory.
Because I was with the grandkids all day, I miss a tribute dinner for Bob Hoover. Fortunately, after I dropped the kids at the camp ground to sneak over to the Hilton for a drink with friends, I ended up sitting with Bob. For 93, his wit and quickness has not changed. He told a great story about the late Tex Hill, the famous fighter and test pilot, and him walking through the Hilton several years ago. He said Tex excused himself to go to the bathroom and said “I need to shake hands with the retired!”
I took several shots of Bob’s hands with my phone and one is posted. He is the greatest.
Aircraft parking continues to be open and closed depending on the traffic flow. No significant incidents so far this year. EAA has a dedicated group of volunteers at the Chairman and Vice-Chairman levels who have a tremendous amount of experience institutional knowledge. They donate a lot of time and should be thanked anytime you see them.
Oshkosh Day 4
Morning 0730 briefing was routine. Lots of preparation for the flight line which has to be moved back for the enlarged jet performance box for the Thunderbirds. Also discussion of better prep for families and friends when an accident happens as did yesterday with a fatality and another with serious injuries. Everyone seems to come to the Hillard building at show center but there is no official preparation. Sort of ironic that a similar situation happened when Charlie died at Sun 'n Fun.
My hypoxia forum went well with lots of questions. Should have had a booth!
Immediately after the forum, I fed the grandkids lunch and set them up for the airshow. Then I got cleared up and loaded the car with all our "decor" for the Young Eagles gala at the museum.
With the help of Ramona Cox (aka SkyChick), we had three foot high rubber chickens dress in formal attire as our center piece and party favors at each seat ranging from a bell to an emergency public bathroom kit. Everyone dropped by the table.
Had the opportunity to meet Michael Huerta. Nice guy who truly seemed interested in GA. What's more, he skis!
There was an after party at the Hilton sponsored by some company I still do not know what they do or why they are at Oshkosh. I actually left early since it was such a bore!
Back to the tent with more rain. This rain is like water torture--not continuous but enough every day to keep the place soaked.
Oshkosh Day 5
Friday morning briefing was a tough one. Late night with lots of red wine at the Young Eagles gala. Hydrating up.
Talked a lot about emergency response at the campground. Person in charge of North 40 said everyone is told they can call security 24 hours for non 911 type help--e.g. tent gone at 3 AM due to storm with wet, cold, scared kids. Problem is there is no number for security anywhere I could find on paper or on the EAA app as I was told there was. I will approach this after the convention is over.
Had a morning EAA Aviation Medical Examiner meeting with Courtney Scott who runs the division. Mike Berry from the FAA DC office was also there. A discussion of eliminating the 3rd class medical was not entertained (at least for the first 30 minutes of the meeting that I was there) probably because I was the only outspoken AME in favor of eliminating it!
I can assure you there will be news in the next one to two months from the FAA about this. It is with legal now. It will not completely eliminate the 3rd class but will for most pilots. If you are contemplating a special issuance request, wait a few months. It will be worth it.
Friday night's airshow closed with the Thunderbirds which brought a large, non-pilot crowd. Great for the budget but a lot of members were asking if it was worth it. Guess we will find out when the numbers come in.
Friday night I had the opportunity to attend the annual Directors Dinner for the National Air and Space Museum at the Hilton sponsored by Barron Hilton. Chatted with some great folks but it is always an honor and pleasure to speak with Jim Lovell. What an amazing person.
Said a lot of good byes at the Hilton bar afterward to folks I will not see till next Oshkosh. Off early in the AM for home.