Archive for the 'Flying' Category

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 9

2 August 2014 at 3:23 pm
by Jonah

Friday, August 1

My tennis shoes were still wet from the downpour the day before, so I tied them to my back pack and wore my Chacos.  Tracey dropped Berck and me off at the museum, and we fully explored that before catching a bus back to the event area.  The show was the best yet, which the Jelly Belly plane interrupting an aerobatic routine with his aileron falling off.  The Thunderbirds were the last to perform. I’d never seen them perform except at the USAFA stadium at graduation.  It rained on and off, so we were glad to have our umbrellas.

Uncle Stacy was over at the FBO when the Thunderbirds were getting ready, so he got to watch them do all their preflights together.

Berck and I met Randy and Stacy over at the parking area, and then we all picked up Uncle Stacy at the FBO.  Then Randy and Stacy started off for home in their car. The rest of us walked to Players Pizza next to the bus stop by the house and had some good beers and pizza.  We returned to the house and sat out on the back patio and smoked some free cigars Uncle Stacy had gotten at the Dominican Republic booth along with some of the last Miller Lites from the garage’s mini-fridge.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 8

2 August 2014 at 3:23 pm
by Jonah

Thursday, August 1

Berck and I slept in and took the bus by ourselves in time to try to catch the other scheduled RV composite building class, but it was canceled too.  Instead we went to the What’s New at Van’s class, where Van himself spoke.  They didn’t talk very much about the RV-10, but it was nice to hear them talk about how they try to design planes for real people in the real world.

We decided to find a good spot to watch the air show early and found one right on the spectator line.  Unfortunately, a thunderstorm came up, so we took shelter under our umbrellas in the lee side of a building until it stopped, then reclaimed our soggy spots on the ground.  I spread out my jacket so we could have a dry place to sit.  The show was really good with Sean Tucker (Berck’s favorite stunt pilot), Pattie Wagstaff, and wing walker, which I’d never seen before.  The Thunderbirds also arrived and went over the field in several configurations getting their bearings.

It started pouring rain again after the show.  Fortunately, it never rained for too long.  In fact the weather all week was very nice.  It wasn’t too hot, and the nights cooled off a whole lot.  Berck and I slept with the windows open most nights, awakening to the zooming plane engines over the house starting around 6 a.m.

Randy and Tracey met us after the show in one of the merch tents, and after it stopped raining we made our way back to the car.  A bus driver had kindly dropped Uncle Stacy off at the house already. We all went out to eat at the Dockside Tavern and sat outside until it started raining again.  A watch company was doing a promotion, and that got us a couple of free beers.  The Dockside Tavern has excellent food, and it was a very short drive from the house.  Berck got a burger with cheese curds one night we went.  I got the fried lake perch both nights we went; it was so good.  They have an amber ale that is very good.

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.