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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oshkosh, B'gosh!

After 30 years of flying (albeit with long ground-bound periods at times), it's finally time, and I'm going to Oshkosh at the end of July.

For those who don't know, Oshkosh is the largest, busiest airshow in the world.  What makes it busy is that unlike most airshows this is one that you fly to.  The airport is littered with hundreds of private planes parked all over the place.  It started as a gathering for home builders (and still maintains some of that flavor), but grew into a celebration of all private flying.

And the sheer size or AirVenture, to give it it's proper name is daunting.  There is apparently (and I say apparently because I'm still learning this) only one visual method of arriving - you fly to a small town called Ripon in Wisconsin, follow the railroad track to Fiske, and from there follow directions radioed to you from the ground.

Because it's so busy you don't respond to the commands over the radio as is normal, and the controllers don't know your registration number call sign anyway, so they will address you as "Red Skyhawk"; "Blue RV"; or in my case "White V-tail Bonanza".  To acknowledge a command, you waggle the wings and comply.

You can arrive at one of two altitudes - a low arrival for those who can fly at 90 kts, and a higher arrival for those who fly at 130 kts.  I haven't decided yet which I'll do - my Bonanza will fly at 90 kts safely, but it's a bit uncomfortable and only 27 kts above my stall speed and at a pretty low altitude.  I think my choices are to fly the low approach with wheels down and 10 degrees of flaps to lower my stall speed, or to fly the high one at 130 kts.

Unless you book very, very early you won't get into a hotel.  So for this first visit I'm going to camp next to my airplane.  I have a 6 man tent, air mattress, sleeping bag and battery powered camping lamps.  And a solar powered charger for my cell phone.  I understand there is lots of food available, and a Kroger grocery store, so I plan to take some breakfast foods and nothing else.  And there are showers - so its not exactly roughing it........

Getting excited about it!  I plan to be there the 2nd weekend, arriving on Friday August 1st in the morning.  I plan to park in the Vintage area, which is open to all aircraft built before 1971.  Look me up if you are there!