Monday, September 20, 2010

The Show, Part 2

On Tuesday morning, I woke to the considerable racket of a early-model Learjet departing Runway 18. I wanted to beat the morning rush to Ripon, so we got up, broke camp, and packed everything back into Foxtrot Zulu. Our neighbors helped us push her out of the wet grass and up onto the taxiway. Taxiing the full length of the flight line to Runway 36 was like being in a parade, given how many people were sitting in front of their airplanes eating breakfast and waving to passing aircraft. We lifted off and turned westward toward Ripon at 7:30am.

The airspace over Ripon was much calmer than the previous evening. I spotted a Ercoupe following a Tri-Pacer, and fell into line. A Cessna 150 approaching from our 3-o'clock position s-turned to follow me. We proceeded up the tracks to Fisk, where both vintage aircraft were sent east along Fisk Avenue, while I kept trucking northeast by myself for the right downwind to 27. Approaching the numbers, Tower told me to follow a TBM on a two-mile final, follow him, and land on the green dot. I scanned the shoreline of Lake Winnebago for the svelte single-engine turboprop, and instead spied a chunky, dark-blue radial-engined warbird. Of course, a TBM Avenger, not a TBM-700! I followed close behind and put Foxtrot Zulu right on the green dot, making a much nicer landing than the previous evening's effort in Fond du Lac. After ten minutes of following EAA flagpersons down a narrow service road, I was marshalled onto very soft grass on the northeastern side of 9/27; a mighty blast of throttle was required to keep moving until we reached our parking spot. I shut down with a happy sigh. We had made it, after all.

The North 40 was shockingly empty. Usually by Tuesday every square foot of grass around Runway 9/27 is filled with airplanes and tents, but when we arrived there were no more than 100 airplanes in our immediate vicinity, plus a few early arrivals scattered around the south side of the runway, stranded in the bog. Over the week, the entire area eventually did dry up enough to accommodate campers, but I don't think the North 40 ever completely filled up after Tuesday.

We attended the show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then flew home on Friday morning. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the show.

2010 is the 75th anniversary of the venerable DC-3, so there many DC-3's and C-47's in attendance.

Never was an overpriced burger so good as on a hot Wisconsin afternoon filled with the noise of radial engines.

The history of this airplane is rather astounding.

Dawn's favorite airplane, she's been begging me for a ride in one for a while. So, uh, anyone here own a Stearman?

Did you know Wacos are still in production? I didn't! When I hit the jackpot....

The ultralight field is, for my money, the most fun you can have at Oshkosh. Crazy people giving rides around the patch in questionable machines while funny old dudes kibitz over the loudspeaker? What's not to love?On the other hand, when you need to get away from the heat & crowds, you can't beat the seaplane base. I took a really nice nap on the grass, dangling my feet in the water, occasionally opening an eye to peek at whatever was taking off or landing.
I can't imagine the expense of owning and operating an F-4, but I'm glad that at least one guy considers it a worthwhile use of his money.
Sean Tucker is a no-name chump, real men do Akro in a Beech 18! One of our favorite acts.
This is just...unnatural. I mean, even moreso than normal helicopters.

Don't try this at home, kids....

Covering an elevator at the Stitts Poly-Fiber fabric workshop.

All in all, it was a great time, if a bit overwhelming at times. Oshkosh has that reputation. Dawn said she had a lot of fun and would like to go back sometime, but maybe we should skip a year or two first.

Our flight back on Friday was smooth and relaxing. On my way back in '99, I let my ten-year-old brother Josiah do most of the flying, and taught him how to navigate VOR-to-VOR. This time, I had Dawn do most of the flying and navigation using dead reckoning and pilotage. She did a great job.

On the way back, we stopped in Siren WI to pick up my seven-year-old nephew, Dylan. We were bringing him to Grandma and Grandpa's house for the weekend, and it was his first airplane ride ever. The afternoon air was a little turbulent, but Dylan did great. I promised him that he could sit up front with me next time, and I'd show him how to fly.


Marc Cote said...

As a former A-4 Skyhawk mechanic, I would love hi-res copies of those two pics!

Julien said...

Thanks for the post! I came across this reference to flying a Stearman in Ohio for under $200 an hour dual, thought you might be interested.

cb said...

Makes me want to get back into my favorite blue & white 172. Great post.

Tim G in MN said...

Always wondered what flying to EAA would be like. Sounds similar to stepping on a hornet nest! Amazing that there aren't more accidents... (Cool! Bumper-Planes!)
Thanks for sharing!

Tim G in MN

Bob said...

Fun story, great pictures. Thanks for sharing, Sam!

Wilson Richards said...

I was greatly overwhelmed with all the pictures of those aircrafts! they are amazing and the way they fly, it's pure excitement that I felt!

Thanks for this post. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sam,
I rediscovered your blog this year- found it at the end of the schoolyear last year and forgot about it. I was reading your post about NewCo/Soaring Eagle being sold. I heard about that this summer and was shocked- I felt Mesabas flowthrough was I am from the twin cities and am my ticket to WidgetCo. in my jr. Year at UND- I was hoping to go to Mesaba but since Pinnacle bought them, well...Skywest is the goal now. Do you know anyone who flys for them? I have just heard a lot of bad things from friends at Pinnacle. I was wondering about that last line you wrote "Either way I think you'll see major changes to the well worn CFI->Regional FO->Regional CA->Major Airline career path." What do you think those changes will be? From what I understand you are saying PIC time won't be as important and turbine SIC will be enough for the majors?

Sam said...

Marc - Certainly, I can send hi-res pics of the A4s your way. Just let me know your email address, mine is samweigel -at- gmail -dot- com.