Hey Everyone… I hope you are all getting ready for Riddle in a little less than a month. Since I last checked in with you guys I have been on the road, or should I say “airway”. Early in the morning on July 24th, a fellow Embry-Riddle student and I loaded up the Cessna 182T and pointed the nose to the west enroute to Oshkosh, Wisconsin – AirVentures 2011. We made a quick stop in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio State University Airport to make a pit stop before heading to Joliet, Illinois for a planned fuel stop. As we crossed into Indiana we ran into a storm cell that thankfully broke before we got too close. Our airplane, a 2008 Cessna 182 Turbo has the latest in avionics giving us the ability to view weather using XM Weather and giving us advance warning to weather issues. We landed in Joliet, IL (KJOT) and taxied in for fuel … talk about easy access to cheap gas. We pulled up the line service tech was waiting, fueled us right away and we were back on our way to Oshkosh.
During the week of EAA’s Airventure – Oshkosh is the Busiest Airport in the World … and as we made our way to OSH we listened in on the ATIS and reviewed the NOTAM one last time before making one of the easiest and most fun approaches to an airport I have ever done. As we came up on RIPON we turned, followed the approach procedures and traveled over the railroad tracks keeping an eye on other traffic joining the arrival route into OSH. With about 2 miles to go we got our queue to “Rock your Wings” and we were cleared to land on runway 36L. We had my GoPro HD camera suction-cupped to the windshield giving us an amazing video of the approach all the way to shutdown at our campsite. Once touching down at Oshkosh the reality set in and I still could not believe that I had just flown half the country (in about 6 hours) and would be living the aviation dream for a week … living at an airport with the airplane and surrounded by people who have the same passion for flight. So we shut down and pushed the plane back and began to set up our campsite for the week to come. With the tents set up in about 20 minutes and day light left to burn we walked the North 40 Campgrounds looking at aircraft and then ventured into the main Airventure display to get a preview to the week’s events. Though it was the first night we met the pilots and families around us at the airplane and, to my surprise, the Piper Cub about 10 feet away had come from the airport near my house in Virginia…. it’s funny, travel 650nm to meet a guy that lives 20 miles from home.
So Monday marked the start of the week and we started bright and early making our way through the many displays set up by exhibitors from all parts of the aviation community. Monday was mostly spent looking over the manufacturers displays (Cessna, Piper, Embraer, etc.) before the crowds formed later in the week. Of course the fact that I was attending ERAU came up in conversation between the exhibitor’s and as for me, I feel like I made some great connections with those in the industry and fellow Riddle grads at different companies. Embry-Riddle was well represented – the large “tent city” that was set up near Conoco Phillips Square that was well represented by Riddle students and faculty/staff and the aircraft from both Daytona and Prescott. As I walked around during the week I kept seeing ERAU t-shirts, hats, jackets around the airport … a nice reminder that we are in fact #1!
For those of you who know about Oshkosh 2010 – it was a very rainy year for EAA. That being said, we thought ahead and reserved a dorm room at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh for the week as well as setting up camp at the North 40. We did this so we would have an alternative to sleeping in a wet/muddy camp ground if the weather turned for the worse. As the week went by I had to face the reality that I was not going to cover the whole show that stretched over the entire airport and over at the Sea Plane Base. This being said, Eric and I began planning our days to cover the maximum ground and see the most in the time we had. One of the most interesting parts of the day was lunch; we would eat at the show and with a short supply of tables (giving us shade from the sun) that involved finding a table to share with a few others. We had the pleasure of eating lunch with some very interesting business people, pilots and other college students.
Tuesday we continued to cover the show and visit displays and watching the air show acts. We ventured through the Vintage Aircraft parking area to view some of the nicest aircraft ever designed … and they were being flown around the country throughout the year by their owners. In the Vintage area I found a familiar airplane, a Ryan Navion B – the first airplane I had ever flown back when I was 15. I met up with some friends from home and at Riddle that had made the trip out to OSH. Wednesday, was a bit cloudy making it harder for the performers, having to stay low. Given the weather conditions the airshow acts put on a great show. Thursday… Thursday morning was marked by the unfortunate landing of the Alabama ANG F-16 that overran the runway and continued into the grass. It was a very hard/abrupt stop causing damage to the nose, landing gear and engine. Later in the afternoon the last flying Navy FJ Fury overran the same runway but escaped unharmed from the looks of it.
Friday morning was marked by the arrival of the Boeing 787 – the first time it visited AirVenture. At approx. 9AM it touched down on 36L, the same runway I had landed on nearly a week prior. With what looked like thousands of fellow aviation enthusiasts I watched the massive aircraft taxi into Conoco Square where it would sit for the day allowing guests to tour the aircraft. In addition to the 787 we all had a chance to see the B-29 bomber “FiFi” take to the skies over Oshkosh. Saturday’s air show was phenomenal with a large selection of Navy aircraft taking to the skies before a large wind storm blew through the area causing the show to be cut a little short. Before we knew it aircraft were back up and flying and we were headed for the night airshow at OSH. If you haven’t seen a night airshow it is one of the most amazing things you can watch as airplanes light up the skies overhead.
Sunday we loaded our belongings back into the Cessna and headed back for Joliet for a splash of fuel before headed back to Winchester, VA. With the ceiling and performance of the Cessna 182T Eric and I cruised at FL200 – 20,000 feet … yes 20,000 feet in a Cessna ha. We had our oxygen and we were taking advantage of a kicking tailwind cutting giving us a shorter trip home. It is very hard to explain how great the show was in a single journal entry, and I don’t want to drag this on and on… but out of the 3,000 + photos I took I am hoping to upload on Flickr – they are already up on Facebook (about 300 of which I have edited covering the week)
It seems I have been in the air a lot … Monday the 31st I was back up in the air flying from Manassas to York. This time I had the opportunity to fly in a Cessna CJ1 … I know want one, guess I have some saving and working to do to accomplish that dream :).
To view the landing at Oshkosh checkout the video I posted on YouTube