Archive for the 'Wanderings' Category

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 7

2 August 2014 at 3:22 pm
by Jonah

Wednesday, July 30

Randy, Berck, and I took the bus in the morning in time to get to the RV composite building class, but unfortunately the class was cancelled.    We took a regular composite class, but didn’t stay for the hands-on part.

Berck took a TIG welding class and wanted me to attend it with him.  It was really interesting, but I fell sound asleep in my metal folding chair.

Berck and I explored the exhibit booth hangers.  Berck found the instrument panel we want for the plane. We also bought a cool tool for making hose clamps out of wire.

Berck and I stayed for the night air show, which mostly consisted of aerobatic planes shooting fireworks off while flying their routines. It was pretty cool.


The show ended with a very impressive fireworks show.


Everyone left at once when the show was over, and we got in a gigantic line for the buses to take us back to the city bus terminal.  Our driver went straight to the college, where all but four of us got off, and then he said he’d take us to the terminal, where Randy picked us up.  We finally got home around 11.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 6

2 August 2014 at 3:21 pm
by Jonah

Tuesday, July 29

In the morning we all loaded up in the car and drove to a lot that had a sign next to it that said EAA BUS.  A bus came up that said “EMPLOYEES/VOLUNTEERS”.  We asked the driver if there was another bus we should wait for, but she said we could ride her bus.  When we asked what bus we should take, she went on and on about how everyone was trying to save a buck and she’d take people as long as she wasn’t full of volunteers.  (It was only when we came back home, we noticed that the other side of the sign next to the parking lot said “EMPLOYEES/VOLUNTEERS”.)

The rest of the week was a series of attempts to solve logistical issue of getting all of us to the event grounds in the morning and back home at night.  We settled on whoever wanted to get there early and leave late would take the bus. Unfortunately, the city bus stopped running before 7 pm, so Randy would pick us up in the car wherever the bus ended up if we couldn’t get the bus drive to stop at 6th Street.  To get there in the morning, we had to leave the house at 7, walk the four blocks or so to the city bus stop at 5th Street, wait for the 7:23 bus, take that to the bus terminal downtown, wait there another 20 minutes for an EAA bus that would then go by the college to pick up a ton of people and then take you to the event bus stop. That would get us there in time for the first workshops of the day at 8:30 a.m. On Tuesday after the air show it started raining while we were in line for the bus to the airport terminal.  Fortunately, I had carried two umbrellas and my waterproof jacket with me, enough for Uncle Stacy, Berck, and me.  It started pouring as soon as we got on the bus, and Randy picked us up at the airport.

We ate a lot of terrible vendor food at the event center.  All they had available to drink was Pepsi products, usually just Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Mountain Dew, but you could get a root beer float at the A&W stands.  There was a concession tent at the far parking lot just outside the event area that had pretty good brisket sandwiches, fried cheese curds, and beer.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 5 – Arrival!

2 August 2014 at 3:20 pm
by Jonah


Monday, July 28

We got up early to find nice cool temperatures and a steady wind, and Danny dropped of us back at Schaumburg airport. 


Even so, we didn’t have the plane filled up with fuel completely.  We took off with no problem and headed north, keeping Lake Michigan off to the distance to our right.

As we got closer to Oshkosh, we checked once more on the iPad and saw a whole lot of plane transponders converging.  We had to turn our transponder off before we got too close.  We kept our eyes open for traffic.  I called out whenever I saw any.  We had a plane off to our left, then one off to our right.  At one point, one overtook us by flying right over us, freaking us out.  Berck slowed down to follow the plane on our right.  He also started flying a zig zagging pattern so that we would be able to see any planes heading straight at us as well as allowing other planes to see us.    At one point I called out, “You got the traffic at 10 o’clock?”   Berck, who had been looking out the other direction, took one look, yanked the plane to the side, and said, “I do now!” The other plane was extremely close and had been flying right at us.  “You very well may have saved our lives just now,” Berck added.

There are so many planes flying into Oshkosh that you can’t talk to the traffic controllers on the radio.  Instead, you follow whatever airplane is in front of you at the same speed and the same altitude, fly over the town of Rippen, then up the railroad tracks to Fisk.  In Fisk, they spot you from the ground, call out what type of airplane you appear to be, tell you to rock your wings to acknowledge you heard them, and then give you directions to continue to Oshkosh.  The controller called out a Cherokee right over Fisk, then called it out again.  We weren’t right over the town, but he was apparently talking about us, so on the second call, Berck rocked our wings, and the controller gave us directions to continue.

This next part I’m going to tell from my perspective, because I’ll probably get the correct terminology and details wrong.  We kept heading north, and the runway appeared to the east.  I stopped calling out traffic because there were aircraft everywhere.  Helicopters were close to the ground.  Planes flying in formation were circling to the south.  And there was a line of planes in front of us queuing up to land on runway 270 from the east.  The radio was just a continuous stream from a very harried sounding female controller giving instructions to the planes coming in.  The runway was full of planes in various stages of landing, and there were even more planes lining up all the time to land.  We turned east past the runway headed over the lake.  The controller told us to follow another plane, which came in to land to the west.  Suddenly, we were making a hard, fast turn to right, and I couldn’t see anything out the windows but sky in my left window and lake in my right.  We descended rapidly and then were lined up to land.  The controller gave the plane in front of us instructions to land but didn’t give us any.  We landed anyway, and the controller told us to pull off into the grass as soon as we could.  Berck didn’t bother slowing down, and we bumped off the runway onto the right.  Uncle Stacy got out our piece of paper that said “FBO” on it and held it in the windshield.  The volunteers on the ground emphatically signaled to us to do something, we weren’t sure what.  But we eventually were allowed to taxi over to the FBO.    Here’s a rather longish video.

I finally was able to take off my motion sickness patch from behind my ear, which was really starting to itch.

Once we got settled at the FBO, we took their shuttle van over to the event area and got our wrist bands.  Then we met Randy and Tracey right inside the gate, and we took a tram across the event area and walked all the way to where they had parked their car so we could leave our stuff. We got some food at the concession tent in the parking lot outside the event area and then headed back in.  This sort of thing was happening constantly overhead:


There are lots of things to do at Oshkosh.  There is the Sky Market, which is basically a flea market.   Here’s bins and bins of rivets and other parts.


Here’s Randy trying to find just the right oops rivet.


There are the four big hangers full off booths.  There are the individual tents set up by giant vendors like Garmen and Cirrus.  There are pavilions set up with a constant series of workshops and presentations on welding to fiberglass construction, although the one really wanted to go to, composite building for RVs, was cancelled because the instructor got pneumonia.  And of course, there are the thousands of airplanes parked everywhere you can walk around and look at.

Berck talked to some avionics people, while Randy talked to some engine people.

An air show starts every day at 2:30 and gets more impressive each day. 

IMG_3296 IMG_3293 IMG_3270 IMG_3269 IMG_3257 IMG_3239 IMG_3225 IMG_3193One of the most fun parts of the show was the short take off and landing competition of bush planes from Alaska.  It’s astonishing how little runway they can use.

Tracey and Uncle Stacy decided to head back earlier than the rest of us, so they drove the car back  to the house Uncle Stacy had rented. The week of the Oshkosh fly-in, there are no hotel rooms or camping spaces available within an hour of the city.  They all get reserved 365 days beforehand.  But a lot of residents rent out their house for the week and go take a vacation.


When the air show was finished, Randy, Berck, and I wandered around looking at the RVs that had been flown in, trying to find some RV-10s, the plane we’re building.  Then we figured out which bus to take back to the house.  There were only a few people on the bus, and we asked the bus driver where we should get off.  He told us he was going all the way to the college (where all the dorm rooms get rented out to people attending EAA) but that he would stop at 6th Street for us, which was only about three blocks away from the house.  The twilight air was cool and it was a nice walk.

The house had two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.  Randy and Tracey set up their air mattress in the unfinished basement.  Our hosts had left bottled water in the fridge and a mini-fridge full of Miller Lite in the garage for us.


Trip to Oshkosh – Day 4 continued

2 August 2014 at 3:19 pm
by Jonah

Sunday, July 27 continued

We came up to the Schaumburg airport from the east. The runway is in the middle of an urban area surrounded by tall trees and buildings.  At the east end of the runway is a water tower you have to make sure you miss as you come in to land!

Berck put the plane on the ground, and we got ourselves and our stuff out of the plane while listening to the dustup blaring from the hanger.  Berck expressed misgivings about how short the runway was in terms of taking off in the morning.

We all went to the bathroom and went outside to wait for cousin Danny, who drove up in a minivan right after we came outside.  Danny is one of Great Aunt Marilyn’s three sons. Marilyn is Gramma Diane’s sister (Uncle Stacy’s mother).  He drove us back to his house, and we dropped off our stuff, put a load in the wash, since Berck and I were out of clean  clothes, and had a glass of ice tea.


Danny drove us and his daughter Amy (Berck’s second cousin) over to Great Aunt Marylin’s house, a block away, where his brother Larry was picking her up.  This was the first time Berck had met his Great Aunt, although she had sent him birthday cards for years when he was a kid.


Cousin Larry

We all went to Lou’s for deep dish pizza and had some great pizza, an amazing salad, and some Goose Island beer, an entire pint of which I embarrassedly knocked over toward Cousin Larry.  “Welcome to the family!” exclaimed Aunt Marilyn.

Amy and Great Aunt Marilyn


We sat around with Cousin Danny back at his house for a while after supper before heading to bed fairly early.  The temperature had been dropping, so we slept with the window open in Danny’s other daughter’s room (who was busy with her wedding preparations).

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 4

29 July 2014 at 9:32 pm
by Jonah

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It rained all night.  The weather when we woke up was overcast and very soggy.  Uncle Stacy said he’d take the car back to the FBO and see what he could find out.  Berck and I went back to sleep and slept until housekeeping knocked on our door at 10 a.m.  Uncle Stacy called from the FBO and said that they’d said he could take the car back out again, provided we could bring it straight back if they needed it.  He returned to the hotel and picked us up, and we went to Cackleberry’s for a decent breakfast/lunch.

We decided to return to the FBO, since that was as comfortable place to hang out as any.  Berck and Uncle Stacy ensconced themselves in front of the weather computer at the FBO and just stared at the screen.  Finally, in the afternoon, it looked like we’d be able to thread our way through a line of thunderstorms to clear weather on the other side.  Then we’d be able to make it to Peoria and maybe even Rockford.  Flight Aware shows our track.

Berck shepherded the plane between two thunderstorms and along among the clouds, and then the weather cleared and we were able to to fly straight to Schaumburg.  Flying into Chicago airspace is tricky in a general aviation plane because you have to keep nice and low so the jets landing at O’Hare don’t crash into you.  Unfortunately, there are also towers on the approach to Schaumburg  that are higher than the altitude you’re flying .  There was a tense period when we knew were flying right at three huge towers but couldn’t find them on the sectional map.  At last we spotted the first one and navigated to the west of it.  Now the problem was finding the runway.  Because we were so low, we couldn’t see much of anything, much less a runway.  To make matters worse, the runway was perpendicular to us and was behind buildings and tall trees.  Berck spotted some hangers and decided the runway must be next to them, so we flew in that direction.  Berck yelled, “There’s a freaking water tower at the end of the runway!”

To be continued…