The Ohio winter seems to be subsiding, but it is only going into April. That means we could get at least another two feet of snow. Social Media is abuzz with upcoming airshows and fly-ins. That made me realize that I never made a formal write-up of the Oshkosh debut of N328KL.
The paint was finished, and it was only a week before the big show started in Oshkosh, WI. The "big show" is the national convention for EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). It is a Mecca for aircraft builders and pilots of all types. When you build an airplane, the ting to do is fly into Oshkosh. That airport becomes the busiest airport in the world for that week. It is so busy, that special arrival and departure procedures are written and distributed by the FAA. A copy can be found here. It is 32 pages that look more like an invasion plan than a pilot's guide to landing at a class D airport.
A few weeks before, I put a post out on the VAF forum to see if any other "east coasters" would be flying to KOSH and would want to caravan up together. A few hours later, a response email came from Mitch Lock who happens to have the Van's East Coast RV-12 demonstrator. He would be flying from near Washington DC and would enjoy the company. We decided to meet in Parkersburg, WV and then make our way to Kenosha, WI the Saturday before the big show started. The weather was decent VFR over to PKB, but as we headed NW over Ohio, the weather deteriorated somewhat. This lead to a more southerly route and then eventually it was decided to land somewhere and wait out the passing weather. Luckily, we were only about 20 miles from our home airport in Jackson, so a quick radio call to Mitch pointed us in that direction. After landing, we taxied to our hangar, climbed out and opened the door. Mitch had a very surprised look on his face as to how we had a key to that hangar at some random airport in Ohio. He must have missed the part of "home airport" on the radio call. It was still early in the day, the weather was moving through fairly quick. We grabbed a quick lunch, checked the forecast (which showed clearing skies about 35 miles west of our location). We topped off the fuel tanks and headed back Northwest. There were some low fuzzy clouds for the first few miles, but nearing Dayton the sky cleared up and a more reasonable cruising altitude was assumed.
Mitch had flown this route many times before and his advise was to fly west of Chicago Class B airspace. That is what we did, and the TIS on the Map courtesy of our Mode S transponder lit up like Christmas with all the incoming Chicago traffic. A few 737's and other large airline-type aircraft passed above and below us. It was interesting. I did manage to get a photo of the Chicago Skyline.
Here is the route out and around the class B.
The stop in Kenosha would be an overnight. It was getting too late to fly in to KOSH and be able to set-up camp. Mitch was staying with family that night, so we had a room reserved just down the road. Landing at Kenosha was interesting too, as a P-51 Mustang was on final next to us on the parallel runway there. That is something you never get to hear on the local unicom. Luckily, there was just enough room in a large hangar to squeeze the the two RV-12's in for the night.
Realizing that it was much colder than expected, the next mission was to find a long sleeve shirt. I had not packed any sweatshirts to help save on weight in the -12. Oh well.
The next morning was still cold, but no rainy weather. Mitch and the Van's RV-12 were scheduled to do some demo flights at a nearby airport, so we would be making the 45 minute flight to Oshkosh solo. Nothing to worry about, we had the invasion plan.
Three important notes. Get in line. Do Not talk on the radio unless asked a specific question. Rock your wings when told to do so. Basically, you fly to the city of Ripon, WI then follow the railroad tracks to a smaller town called Fisk. Along this route there are air traffic controllers on the ground sequencing everyone to a runway. They can see you because you fly at 1800' and 90 knots. During this time, you are looking for other airplanes and keeping a 1/2 mile separation from them. As we got closer to Ripon, we started seeing other airplanes. In our area I would guess that there were 20 other aircraft in line with us. As we approached Fisk, the controllers started asking each aircraft where they were from...making small talk i guess. We heard, PA...TN....MI....WI...MN....TX before we were given the order to rock our wings. That is done so ATC knows that you can hear them. We were sequenced in for runway 27 according to the NOTAM.
The Ripon arrival in real life
Here is short final and landing on the orange dot / runway 27
That was the easy part! Next was getting to the camping area. A number of flagmen directed us across taxiways and closed runways to get there.
Once we shut the engine down, we were still sitting in the plane when a blue minivan minus the back half drove up. It was the EAA Homebuilders "Welcome Wagon"!
It was still cold. The first two days did not get above 54 degrees. Oshkosh 2013 was nicknamed "Frost-Kosh". Other than the temps, it was a pretty normal event. Airplanes everywhere. A couple from Canada in their RV-8 were parked on one side, while a gentleman from New Mexico in his RV-4 was on the other side. In the photo above, the airplane with the red and grey stripes happened to be from Marysville, OH. Annnnd.......they knew builder Dave!
You even get to see a celebrity every now and then.
I think the discussion was about what color to have that airplane painted. I would stick with the rustic look myself.
After a few days of walking around aimlessly looking at airplanes and listening to everyone talk about airplanes, it was time to trek back to Ohio.
Oh, this is the line to depart. Its about 8,000 feet long. It was a 45 minute wait and they were departing 4 airplanes at the same time.
Once in the air, we had a nice tailwind all the way back. A fuel stop was made in Logansport, IN and the trip back home was only about 3.5 hours.
Chicago Motor Speedway was spotted on the way through