My Own Private Oshkosh: Airventure 2012
Airventure Oshkosh is an event no self respecting aviator should miss. It has something for everyone and barring bad weather, there is no better aviation venue. The only complaint is you can’t see it all! This Oshkosh was going to be special for me; I was flying in with an airplane I built with my own two hands.
I had flown in before, but that was way back in ’93 and ’94 and a subject for another post. I drove to the show in ’08 and ’09 – I know disgraceful, but better than not going at all! Having finished my RV-8 in August of 2011, I had almost a full year on it before taking ‘the big trip’.
My plan was to go up early on Sunday and then depart Wednesday. As much as I love it there, I’m only good for a few days – over stimulation I guess.
Walking around the office prior to the show, I ran into my buddy Dana. I asked about his plans for Airventure and he said he might be driving this year, so I offered the back seat of the -8 to which he jumped at.
With all the pre-planning details out of the way, the day finally came and we launched early. The weather was great all the way and we marched up to 8500′ in the predawn sky. The airplane was doing well and the winds weren’t too bad going westbound. The route from Columbus took us to Chicago and then North to skirt the lake; a direct overflight only saved 10 minutes so I elected to not go ‘feet wet’. I popped up to 10,500′ to top the Class B and had a great view of Shy Town from almost 2 miles up.
As we approached RIPON, the first fix for the Oshkosh arrival, we only saw one airplane (pays to get up early in the morning). I then realized we were slightly early as the airport wasn’t open for landings yet. Luckily, they started sequencing folks about 10 minutes prior to official opening to facilitate the arrival procedure and it was after 7am when we made a bouncy landing on 27 – made it!
We actually got a good spot in the homebuilt camping area and by luck we were very close to three of my local buddies – Joe, Dana, and Dan. Setting up camp, it was apparent it was going to be hot – real hot! In fact, Sunday and Monday both approached record heat, but I’d rather have that than rain any day.
The show was great, as always. But I really enjoyed seeing old friends, like Jim Brewer and his family that flew up from Oklahoma in his Twin Beech. I also got to see Bob and Barbara Perkins in their beautiful Waco cabin biplane.
With this year being the 40th anniversary of the Van’s Aircraft, it was all about RVs – I attended several RV-specific functions. It cooled on Tuesday and Wednesday and we only saw a little rain during our stay. We missed the big storm that hit on Thursday.
Wednesday we pulled stakes and started packing up the plane. Storms passed overhead early that morning, but it was nice when we left around 1030. We took off on Dan’s wing (RV-7) on runway 18R – big fun! The route was straight South along the west side of Chicago and then due east to Columbus.
Dan and I switched positions in route formation along the way and he asked if we could do a couple of low approaches over his airport at Marion, OH. My friend Rick in his RV-4 flew out to western Ohio to meet us and we made it a 3-ship formation for the rest of the flight. After a couple of 500′ low passes at Marion, Rick and I departed for Buckeye. It was a beatiful day!
This year Oshkosh was definitely something special for me. I had a great time with friends, saw some amazing airplanes, and got to enjoy all of that in the company of my newly minted RV-8, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Below is a little video I made to celebrate the event (caution: highly cheesy!) -Brent
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