Oshkosh Trip Report 2003

by Paul A. Rosales

I’d been looking forward to attending Oshkosh AirVenture’s ‘100 Years of Powered Flight’ celebration for many months, and the time finally came to ‘fly east’. Unfortunately, my wife Victoria was unable to fly with me :-( We had originally planned not to attend AirVenture this year since we were supposed to fly to the Turks and Caicos with the RV group later this year. As such, Victoria made plans to attend a big Tupperware Convention in Salt Lake City (SLC) the same week as OSH. The Turks trip was subsequently pushed to next year. Victoria was torn between the two but had airplane tickets for SLC so that decision was already made for her. Next to my wife, my neighbor Scott Lynch probably had more time than anyone else in my RV so he was the logical choice as copilot. Between numerous flights with me and one with Gary Sobek to Leadville, CO and back, Scott probably had ~100 hours flying in an RV. Since Scott had never before traveled so far away from home, let alone in an airplane, I planned the trip for his benefit with stops to include Kitty Hawk, NC and The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. My invite to the SoCAL RV group for others to join us had Robert Paisley (RV-7) and Todd & Sue Ehlinger (RV-6A) flying along with us! With the plane freshly annualed, we packed our gear the night before our departure. We arrived to the Rosamond (L00) airport on Thursday, July 24th, at 0600 then departed towards a beautiful sunrise at 0630. We met up with Robert at 9500’ over Daggett (DAG) airport at 0715 after orbiting a few minutes. We continued on towards Laughlin/Bullhead (IFP), AZ to meet up with Todd and Sue. We used fight following with ZLA (LA Center) and were worked by SoCAL RV lister and friend/instructor Howard Long. Knowing we’d be late to Laughlin, Howard was able to relay a message to the IFP tower so they could let Todd and Sue know we’d be a little late. They’d flown to Laughlin the day before just to get away from Los Angeles for a mini-vacation. All worked out, and the three planes met up airborne just east of Laughlin. We flew as a ‘gaggle’ and landed at Saint Johns Industrial Airpark (SJN), AZ. I like stopping at SJN since it’s about a 3-hour leg AND they have really cheap fuel, ~$1.77/gallon for 100LL. With orbit time waiting for Robert and time to find Todd, my first leg was 4.0 hours. Weather was clear with a smooth ride, however, Scott was not feeling well when we landed at SJN. He wasn’t really sure what it was though he had a massive headache. It was bad enough for him that he did not want to get back in the plane but go home. He was willing to get a rental car and drive home though I thought that a very bad idea. Even worse, there was no rental car or bus station available. Scott had no choice but to continue to Albuquerque (ABQ), NM where I could drop him off at the International Airport. The 3-ship flew towards ABQ, and while Todd & Sue continued past ABQ towards Dalhart (DHT), TX, Robert and I flew (formation) into ABQ. By the time we landed, about an hour after leaving SJN, Scott REALLY wanted to go home. His massive headache was back shortly after takeoff from SJN. He was feeling miserable. I strongly recommended that he spend the night in ABQ and see how he felt in the morning but later found out Scott flew right home :-( After talking with several people about it later (including Dr. ‘Dan’), it really sounded like he had a bad case of altitude sickness.

Our taxi-back for takeoff from ABQ had us passing the big, Eclipse jet aircraft facility that is on-field. A beautiful formation takeoff had Robert and me flying to Dalhart where we met up with Sue and Todd (below) 2 hours later.

We borrowed the airport car for a trip to town for a late lunch then back to Dalhart for the last leg of the day to Bentonville (VBT), AR, Home of Wal-Mart. We landed VBT at sunset after putting 3 more hours on the Hobbs. Normally, I try to fly around 6 hours a day but bent my rules the first day as everyone was feeling excited about the trip. Heck, we were FLYING to OSH eventually! After flying with Gary Sobek so much, I too find that I don’t mind making the first day ‘the big push’ then ‘cruise’ after that. I will also make a big push to get home from Dallas as the sun is working with me instead of against me when flying west, typically an 8-hour hobbs flight. Before arriving back to the airport Friday morning, we stopped to see ‘Waltons’, the Five & Dime store that started it all.

After departing Bentonville, we pointed our planes towards Smithville (0A3), TN enroute to Kinston, NC. We had flight following all the way, and somewhere near the Tennessee border, flew around some cumulus clouds for the remainder of the 3-hour flight.

Smithville airport lies slightly southeast of Nashville and is halfway to Kinston. Here's a picture of Nashville International Airport;

I also picked Smithville for its $2.05/gallon fuel. By the way, all fuel stops were planned using AirNav’s Fuel planner, a great tool! While fueling at Smithville, Sue walked into the FBO and found that no airport car was available for us to go to lunch. However, she did find a very nice gentleman who gave us a ride into town, sat down with us for lunch (we had great visit with him) and then drove us back to the airport.

Takeoff from Smithville had us climbing to 9500' to stay above the scattered layer direct to Kinston (ISO), NC. It was fairly hazy down low. The 3-hour flight to Kinston, which is southeast of Raleigh and near Seymour-Johnson AFB, put us within an hour’s flight to Kitty Hawk.

My friend Rabon Wilkins, who I met as an 'RV enthusiast' in Switzerland in 1997, was waiting for us at the airport. He is the proud owner of an RV-6A that he bought a few years back. He wanted to enjoy his retirement ‘flying’ an RV instead of ‘building’ an RV :-)

After getting the planes secured for the night, Rabon drove us to his home where wife Glenda had a FULL southern meal waiting for us! It was terrific sitting out on the back porch watching the fireflies twinkle in the night. I haven’t seen fireflies since I was a kid visiting family in Texas. We all visited until after midnight talking about AIRPLANES and more AIRPLANES! Speaking of planes, they were ALL running well and were cruising about 140-150 KTAS enroute, with no tailwind.

Saturday morning weather had a light drizzle and overcast so we arrived to the airport around noontime. On the way to the airport, we passed some sort of crops I didn't recognize...that's Tobacco!

Rabon mentioned an RV-7 would be having a first flight at nearby Goldsboro (GWW) airport so our original 3-ship, now 4-ship with Rabon, departed to GWW.

We all gave Daryll Ham’s RV-7 a good look-see then watched him taxi out...

Then he returned after a safe, first flight. Look at THAT RV-grin :-)

After congratulating Daryll (~1330), we could see the thunderstorms started to build up to the northeast towards Kitty Hawk. The color weather radar in the FBO showed a solid line of thunderstorms between us and Kitty Hawk, moving northeast...bummer! Though we made it this far from SoCAL, landing at Kitty Hawk on this trip was not to be :-( We continued with our plans, excluding Kitty Hawk, and departed at 3-ship northbound where weather was fine (Rabon flew 18 minutes home to Kinston). Not long after departing GWW, Todd and Sue pointed their plane for Wilmington (ILG), DE then on to Mattituck (21N), NY where they arrived safely that afternoon. Looking back towards Kitty Hawk showed towering thunderstorms covering a large area.

Robert and I continued north over Richmond, VA towards Washington DC and landed 1.5 hours later at Stafford Regional Airport (RMN), VA which is JUST outside the ADIZ. We were SURE to have flight following with Potomac Approach into the DC area! Stafford Regional is a fairly new airport that opened in late 2001, and there is one, square, portable building that serves as an FBO office. They have a nice pilot’s lounge and weather radar in the office.

My friend Tana Bailey, who I called before departing GWW, arrived shortly after we landed and took Robert and me to town for dinner. We had a short visit then back to the airport as she had plans for the evening with her family.

I had originally planned to continue into Dulles (45 minute drive or 12 minute RV flight) and pick up the rental car to visit the Smithsonian and walk the 'Mall' on Sunday....but those plans were all made for the benefit of my friend Scott who was no longer with us. No sense flying into Dulles. Robert then asked the FBO line guys, "Where's someplace FUN to fly to?", and with that, we were back in the planes enroute to Tangier Island (TGI) airport which lies out in the Chesapeake Bay, out the mouth of the Potomac River :-) Patuxent Approach kept us clear of all the military air traffic, and we landed about 45 minutes later. Tangier Island isn't really big (maybe a couple of miles around) with lots of history dating back to the 1600s. This is definitely a 'must-land’ airport!

Our B&B host, Grace, picked us up in the STRETCH-limo golf cart and dropped us at 'The Fishermans Corner' Restaurant. After dinner, Grace was kind enough to lend us her personal golf cart (SMALL island, no wide roads for cars but wide enough for 2 golf carts to pass each other). Normally, she doesn't loan out her golf cart, but she figured if we could build our airplanes then fly them all the way from California to the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, we could safely drive her golf cart!

We had a great time driving around and checking out this little 'getaway' island, and finished the evening with a root-beer float from the ice cream shop. I’m planning on coming back with Victoria next time around and spend some time walking along the beach. Sunday morning, we departed Tangier Island (~8 miles visibility in haze) for Lancaster (LNS), PA as Rick Gray had let me know the Mid-Atlantic RVs were going there for breakfast and check out an RV-8 project. We pretty much flew the Delaware border north, talking with Patuxent and Potomac Approach to remain clear of the DC ADIZ. Once ‘around the corner’, we turned northwest towards 'Lank-ster' (that's how they pronounced it). Amish country I’m told. I was on the Mid-Atlantic RV group radio frequency (button 1, thanks Rick!) and checked in with "Any of the Mid-Atlantic folks out there?" Yep, they were, and they had NO idea who was going to be in the mystery 2-ship arrival joining them at Lancaster. Were THEY in for a surprise! I’d flown from Lancaster, CA to Lancaster, PA; WAY TOO COOL! We landed, following an overhead approach, about 1.5 hours after leaving Tangier Island, and you should have seen the look on Joe Czachorowski’s (Zach’s) face when he saw my plane on the ramp so far from home! ARE YOU LOST?!?

I'd flown with Zach as my lead in the RV formation last year at OSH. It was GREAT joining them for breakfast and touring the RV-8 project.

We made a quick stop on-field in the Pilot Shop and then we departed as a 4-ship for a short hop to Smoketown (Q08), PA where we topped the tanks. After a few pics, Robert and I then departed for Parkersburg (PKB), WV.

This 2 hour flight had us flying west at 6500' MSL above a scattered layer AROUND (and north of) Camp David then southwest towards PKB. It should have been a shorter flight but we had 30 knots of headwind directly on the nose.

Arrival to PKB was an overhead approach (Robert had that nailed down), and when we arrived to the ramp in front of Rick Gray's hangar, he had about 10 or so people standing line abreast. They gave Robert and I the big 'Wave' like the 'Wave' you see in big stadiums during sporting events. That was REAL GOOD of you Rick! I had to stop and take a picture of that!

We got the planes de-bugged and cleaned up (I even vacuumed out the peanut butter pretzel mess I made) then put the planes away in the old ‘Firehouse’ hangar for the night. Also joining us for the night and just arrived from Columbia, SC was James Clark (RV-6) with his friend Paul ‘Checkmate’ Carter who’d be joining us for the flight to Oshkosh. L-R: Me, Rick Gray, James Clark and Paul Carter.

Rick's wife Helen had an AWESOME dinner almost ready for us, so with a few minutes to spare, Rick took us outside to share something I've NEVER seen before in ENTIRE life: A Potato Gun! TOTALLY amazing. Here's Robert taking aim;

After firing ‘Spudzooka’ a bit, we had a really SUPER dinner with the Gray Family: Rick, Helen, Ricky, Kristen and Lauren. Monday morning, we awoke to clouds and rain that kept us ground-bound all day. We’d made the decision that if we didn’t takeoff by 1500 EST, we’d scrub for the day which is what happened. Making the best of it, we went to the movies to see ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, fun! Dinner was a delicious ‘Taco Ring’, another favorite of the Gray family. After dinner, we had our mission brief, presented by our appointed ‘leader’, James Clark. Flying to Oshkosh’s famous intersection ‘RIPON’ for any OSH event is busy but taking this year’s 100 Year Anniversary of Flight into account, RIPON was going to be REALLY BUSY! We wanted to make sure we all knew the rules :-) Check out the webpage ’Understanding Air Traffic Control at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh’ for some great tips and pictures showing you what you’ll see at RIPON and beyond. LOTS of good information here! Before the brief, I called Gary Sobek who had arrived to OSH earlier in the day after attending the RV formation clinic at Mason City, IA. I knew that Gary would be flying in with Stu McCurdy and Falcon flight. I wanted to know if they were allowed to fly into Oshkosh as a formation. NEGATIVE Gary told me...well, I thought I’d ask anyway even though I knew formation flights were not allowed. The NOTAM spelled it out quite clearly; EVERYBODY IN-TRAIL, NO FORMATIONS, NO SIDE-BY-SIDE! Okay! James gave a great brief, and we went as far as ‘walk’ our arrival into OSH, complete with radio calls. We’d also decided to fly the ‘high’ pattern entry to RIPON at 2300’ MSL at 130 KTAS. I’ve flown the lower pattern (1800’ MSL @ 90 KTAS) twice before and didn’t like it either time (70 KTAS behind a Cub is NO fun). We were ready for OSH! Tuesday morning, Rick awoke at 0400 to get the first weather brief and we followed at 0500. We arrived to PKB by 0600 and were airborne by 0640. Here's Rick's plane;

And here's James' plane, Papa Juliet;

Our route of flight took us over Dayton, OH (home of the Wright Bros), towards Muncie (IN), around Chicago Class B with a landing at Rockford (RFD), Illinois 3-hours later.

We filled the tanks ($1.99/gallon), completed a final brief then taxied out for takeoff. During the run-up, Rick Gray’s plane was not passing his ‘mag’ check, so after several minutes behind the ‘hold-short’ line, we taxied back to the FBO. My guess was that Rick had a fouled plug and was going to need to shutdown, take the cowl off etc. so upon arrival to the ramp, I shutdown my plane. Magically, Rick’s plane ‘cleaned’ up and he gave me the thumbs up. I turned the key (less than a minute after shutting down), and my plane started cranking EVER so slowly...NOT NOW...COME ON BABY!!!! I stopped cranking, waited a few seconds, said a few kind words to my plane and tried again...slow cranking...and it fired! Thank goodness! Robert, on the other hand, had shutdown with me, and when he saw I was finally running, turned the key on his Eggenfellner Subaru engine and it started right up! This incident (Rick’s magneto and my starting problem) was the basis for the answer to a question that Robert was subsequently asked at the show as he worked the Eggenfellner display booth: Question: "Did you have any problems flying here from California?" Answer: "Yes, I was with a Lycoming that had magneto problems and with another that had starting problems!"

Robert’s engine never skipped a beat, especially considering he finished his flight test period the day BEFORE we left for OSH :-) Our second attempt for departure from Rockford was successful. James was lead, Rick #2, Me #3 and Robert #4; We were again on our way to RIPON, along with several hundred OTHER planes! At 20nm from RIPON, we finally picked up ATIS and from the ‘gaggle’, fell into a close trail formation as we wanted EVERYBODY else out there to see us! A group of 4 planes is easier to see than a single ship was our thinking.

Our plan was loosen the trail as we neared RIPON but just enough where we didn’t have planes trying to cut into our flight. It was interesting that as we neared RIPON, I saw only one or two planes in the distance though they were at the lower altitude. The GPS showed less than 3 miles to RIPON, still no other planes in sight at 2300’ MSL, and then we heard on the radio "Attention all aircraft, Oshkosh is closed to arrivals. If you’ve passed RIPON, begin holding at Rush Lake. If you’re at RIPON, make left turns around the city, and everybody else, hold where you are. Do NOT continue to RIPON, do NOT pass FISK, the airport is closed." I glanced at the GPS and it showed 1.3nm to RIPON. I thought that James would start left turns immediately but he did so about 15 seconds later...over RIPON! We were holding over RIPON (with Rush Lake in the background);

After a few circuits, we could see that our 4-ship RV flight were the only planes circling at 2300’ MSL over RIPON...WE OWNED RIPON!!!! With that in mind, and knowing that there might be some ‘Bozo’ out there still inbound to RIPON, we tightened up our 4-ship to a nice trail formation. I can tell you that I felt much safer flying circuits, in trail with 3 great friends, around the one point in America where all inbound arrivals to the biggest airshow in the world, were also aiming towards!!! We continued to hold for about 15 minutes while the entrants from the AirVenture Cup Race were crossing the finish line. With that much time to spare, I was able to get a few pictures through my bug-spattered windscreen of James and Rick circling RIPON (love that auto-focus feature on my camera :-) While circling, the controllers at Fisk kept us informed on holding status and such. We even heard them ‘scold’ a Bonanza (Bozo) pilot who blew around RIPON, off our right wing, towards FISK. Finally, we heard the airport would be opening in a few minutes followed by "Flight of 4 holding over RIPON, check in!" What’s that?!? Talk on the radio?!? Isn’t that FORBIDDEN?!? Not if the controllers are asking! James jumped in immediately with "RV flight of 4 holding over RIPON". And then the COOLEST thing I’ve ever heard followed on the radio from the controllers at FISK: "Ok everybody, listen up! The airport is open, purple flow procedures. EXCEPT for the RV FLIGHT, I want everybody else in trail, 1500 foot separation, no side by sides, everybody in trail. RV FLIGHT, proceed inbound to FISK, the airport is OPEN!!!! Yes, it is possible to arrive as a flight to Oshkosh, Who-ya!!!! James turned inbound and we all followed, as a flight! At FISK we heard "RV Flight continue straight ahead, contact tower 118.6, looking good! We didn’t need the ‘rock your wings’ call because we were a FLIGHT :-)

Purple flow procedures had us inbound to the gravel pit then right downwind for Runway 27. On the downwind, the tower called "RV Flight, are you landing in formation? Silence... I’m thinking "Ok James, we didn’t brief THIS arrival!" James came back "RV Flight landing in trail!" "Roger, RV Flight cleared to land. Welcome to OSH!"

And it was over...we were on the ground at Oshkosh around noontime, and it felt GOOD! I’ve said it before and will again: You have to fly the plane you build to Oshkosh at least once in your lifetime. The feelings you get after landing is hard to put into words...You’re at OSH!!!!!!!!!!!! I was able to turn off to the right onto the grass. I held up my HBP sign and was directed east towards the lake then across the threshold of Runway 27. I taxied west (paralleling Runway 27) past the Warbird parking to the RV parking. I was parked right next to SoCAL’s Fred LaForge (Flintstone) with Gary Hart (Chief) parked next to him on the other side. This parking area amongst the RV was set aside for the FFI pilots who’d be flying formation during the show later in the week.

Gary Sobek (Birdstrike) greeted me at the plane and then took a picture before I got out of the plane (thanks Gary!).

I then tied the plane down and unloaded the baggage to below the fuselage (out of the way).I saw Rick Gray approaching on the taxiway and was able to snap a few pictures of his plane before they shutdown. Welcome to OSH RICK!!!!!! This was Rick’s first trip to OSH since flying last year as his plane missed flying to OSH last year by a few weeks. Rick and Ricky: Welcome to OSH!!!!!

The ‘Welcome Wagon’ arrived and offered to drive me to ‘Homebuilders Headquarters’ (never turn down a free ride!). I registered and was then ‘mugged’...you are presented with a large, clear, mug which sports the colorful 100th Anniversary of Flight logo etched in aluminum plate. Also included in the registration package are the ‘I flew to Oshkosh 2003 in my homebuilt’ patch and the 2003 Champion (Spark Plug) decal. I placed the decal on my baggage wall next to 2000 and 2002 decals and consider the decals my ‘I flew to Oshkosh’ badges of honor! Gary Sobek’s plane sports more badges than me though! The ‘Welcome Wagon’ then gave me a ride to my camp spot, which lies behind the first private residence out the west gate (near the Bus Park). I camped there last year on the invitation from a member of my local EAA Chapter 49, Herb Carlson. It’s a great camping location considering that I could be to the RVs area or the main flight line in less than 10 minutes. For many others, the hike back to camp can be 30 minutes or more! I was lucky to be so close :-) Also camping with me was my friend from the Rosamond Skypark, Greg Scates, who’d flown in commercially to Milwaukee then drove to OSH via a rental minivan...we had ‘wheels’! My time from Tuesday’s arrival until Saturday morning’s departure was spent trying to see all that I could see knowing I’d never see it all! There are planes to see as far as the eye can see, and I found time to check out AeroShell Square and the ultralight area. Robert and I caught the bus to the Seaplane Base, but when we arrived, a weather warning was issued for the local area for severe thunderstorms including hail.....Yikes! Thunderstorms, bad...Hail, WORSE! Thank goodness the hail never came to pass though it did rain on us every night. Victoria had ‘Scotch-guarded’ my tent before leaving so I stayed nice and dry inside during the downpours! James sent me a great picture of his plane being moved near AeroShell Square;

I spent time walking through the exhibition booths (A, B, C & D) and got out of there spending less than $100. I wanted to spring for both the Digitrak and Altrack wing leveler and altitude hold boxes but it just wasn’t in the budget. Maybe next time...

I also spent time volunteering time to the Young Eagles program where I volunteered 4 hours at the Young Eagles booth in the EAA Museum and another 4 hours the next day as groundcrew on the flightline helping with Young Eagle rides. I was supposed to volunteer two more times but lost one of those days by not arriving on Monday. Since Greg had the rental car, we were able to eat out every night (off the EAA grounds) which was a real treat considering the price and choice of food at the show. I can only eat so many $3 hotdogs or $5 hamburgers. If you haven’t been to OSH, I warn you now that food is way overpriced! The $1.95 soft-serve ice cream cone was about the only ‘food’ I found that was reasonably priced. Before driving back to the tent every night after dinner, we’d stop in at the local market to buy ice, juice and pastries/donuts for the next day’s breakfast. We put them in the $2Styrofoam chest we bought to keep things cool. With breakfast and dinner covered every night, that left me only having to buy lunch on the EAA grounds everyday. I also kept a chest at the plane which I stocked every night with ice and bottled water. We could buy a case of 24 bottles of water for about $5, and they were being sold for $2/bottle at the show, OUCH! I didn’t mind stocking the plane every night as it was less than 10 minutes walk from the tent to the plane. On Friday, our planned 16-ship RV formation took up several hours briefing then waiting for clearance for takeoff during ‘Showcase’ which starts around 1300. We were instructed to shutdown the engines, and the 16 planes waited for another 30 minutes or so before we were told the 16-ship formation was scrubbed. During the wait, we heard screeching tires then watched a Cessna 170 almost ground loop right next to us on the grass between us and the runway. We subsequently found out we had been delayed because of the RV-6/Lancair mishap on Runway 27 so Oshkosh Tower was using Runway 36 to keep the airport open. I’m real glad that Mike Seager was not injured. The pictures below were taken while we were waiting to launch.

Here are the SoCAL formation fliers: L-R: Leader Gary Sobek, Wingmen Gary Hart and Fred LaForge;

After taxiing back and getting the plane tied down, it was too late to volunteer for my next 4 hour shift for Young Eagles :-( Saw this cool plane though!

Saturday morning finally came (rats!) so after having a great (free) breakfast for Chapter Leaders at the EAA Nature Center, Greg and I packed up everything to load up the plane and head for home. Greg decided to join me for the ride home since I had and open seat and was ‘going his way’ :-) He’s been thinking of buying an RV for a few months now. The planned route of flight home was to fly from Oshkosh to Grove, OK (near Tulsa) for the night then fly home to Rosamond on Sunday morning. Greg and I have mutual (pilot) friends that are retired to Grove, which lies on the Lake O’ The Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma, about a 4 hour flight. They invited to stay over for the night. Our briefing at the on-field Flight Service Station (FSS) showed we’d have local scattered clouds getting out of Oshkosh with some thunderstorms starting to develop south of Oshkosh towards the east side of Tulsa. FSS recommended we point the plane towards Topeka, KS before flying towards Tulsa as the line was moving east and would pass by the time we arrived. We then received our mandatory departure briefing at the booth next to FSS. It takes less that 5 minutes and pretty much tells you after takeoff, turn east over the lake at 500’ AGL for 5nm, then you are on your own! After the briefing, you are given a pinkish piece of paper with all the departure rules, and you MUST show this to the ground personnel when taxiing out for takeoff. No ‘ticky’, no takeoff! We packed the plane then pushed it out for startup. While the flag-persons were clearing the area for us to start, Gary Sobek took a nice picture of Greg and I leaving Oshkosh.

We taxied east then south along the main flight line to the Runway 36 threshold, monitoring 118.9. We were able to take several pictures along the way including some of the taxi out, my friend Bernie & Melva Fried's 2002 Grand Champion Thorp T-18 and AeroShell square.

Here's a picture taken by EAA Chapter '49er' Ted Blaine as we continued our taxi;

There were only one or two planes in front of me, and none behind me so I wasn’t’ hurried for my engine runup. Once ready, we taxied up to the line then heard "Silver and green RV, position and hold’. I thought my plane was white and green...whatever..."Wilco, position and hold!" Ah, a Kodak moment so I took a picture!

"RV, cleared for takeoff...RV turn right, now" and we were flying east at 500’ in less than a minute. I took a picture of Oshkosh then the seaplane base and focused on getting around Fond du Lac and pointed towards Topeka!

We could see the dark clouds to the south as we continued west, south west towards Topeka. I was able to get flight following from Chicago Center, and along the way, talked with Flight Watch who advised on ‘proposed’ VFR destination points. As we neared Topeka, with the thunderstorms building east of Kirksville, MO, we could see that it was okay to turn southbound towards Grove. The pictures below show the edge of the last of the weather we flew around.

Our flight path from there took us within 5 miles of the once ‘TFRed’ Whiteman AFB, home of the B-2 bomber.

With the bit of ‘detouring’ west we did, I decided to stop for fuel just south of Whiteman AFB at Clinton (GLY), MO, a nice country airport!

From there, it was less than an hour to Grove, which lies on the Lake 'O the Cherokees, in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma.

Our friends Gary and Connine Trippensee own a nice Grumman Tiger and Luscombe.

After a nice Italian dinner on the lake waterfront, Gary offered to take us for an evening boat ride since we still had about 2 hours of sunlight left. I’d packed my swimsuit, and with his boat neighbor offering up a water-ski, I had the chance to ski for awhile (boating is my other hobby). As I skied, I enjoyed the thought that earlier in the day, I was in Wisconsin, and now I was water-skiing in Oklahoma...life is good flying an RV! We stayed out on the water to watch the sunset then motored back to the dock and covered up the boat. Sunday morning, our online DUATS weather brief showed we’d have great weather all the way home except for some small buildups showing on the radar just west Tulsa. A phone call to FSS told me we’d be in the clear once we passed I-35, and they suggested Ponca City then Gage and direct to Borger (BGD), TX. Before and after takeoff, we took some pictures of Gary/Connie’s house then we flew over Ponca City then Gage towards BGD to avoid some early morning clouds.

We landed BGD 3 hours after leaving Grove where we fueled. The picture below shows the oil refinery next to the field, and this is where BGD gets its Avgas!

We continued towards St. Johns Airpark (SJN) flying at 10.5K MSL over New Mexico with about 5 knots of headwind (thank you!). Victoria and I have seen headwinds of 30 or more out this ways before so no complaints. As a result of little headwind, I opted to pass on SJN for fuel and continued to Payson (PAN), AZ, a 3.5 hour leg from Borger. Payson lies in the Tonto National Forest, between Sedona (pictures below) and Phoenix, at an elevation of 5157’. It's a beautiful area located near the center of Arizona!

Temperatures are usually cooler by 15 degrees or more compared to Phoenix. Victoria and I may one day retire to this area we like the area a LOT! Chuck and Pam Miller (RV-8A) already have property on the Mazatzal Mountain Air Park located on the Payson airport so they may have us as neighbors in 20 years or so! There is a very nice campground on the airport if you are looking for a place to camp. After having a Prime Rib dinner in the Payson Airport restaurant, we flew the last 3 hours home to Rosamond, crossing the Colorado River at Needles, CA. I saw this 'Alien' site just past Needles near Kelso;

Near Daggett, the headwinds we expected didn’t let us down so we were bumped around a bit letting down over Edwards AFB into Rosamond (L00). Total trip time on the hobbs was 41.6 hours, and I used 6 quarts of oil. Other than the starting problem in Rockford, the plane performed well. I don’t regret ‘hocking’ all the pink slips to all my vehicles to buy the once-new Lycoming O-360, now at 1531.6 hours. It’s always good to be back home after flying a fun trip! Thank you Van for designing a plane that can be built by ordinary people! ************************** For those of you who think this trip might be a little daunting, I want to let you all know that it is really NOT a long trip! Getting there is just a series of short trips (~3-hour, ~450nm legs for me) in the RV, and when put all those trips together, you’ll see that you can travel REALLY far, REALLY fast! All my preflight planning was completed at Aeroplanner’s website, which is free to all EAA members. Here’s a breakdown of miles and times for my trip; Trip distances in nautical miles/hours: Rosamond (L00) – St. Johns (SJN): 437 / 3.5 St. Johns – Dalhart (DHT): 347 / 3.0 Dalhart – Bentonville (VBT): 405 / 3.0 Bentonville – Smithville (0A3): 409 / 3.1 Smithville – Kinston (ISO): 403 / 3.0 Kinston – Stafford (RMN): 198 / 2.5 Stafford – Tangier Island (TGI): 77 / 0.7 Tangier – Lancaster (LNS): 138 / 1.0 Lancaster – Parkersburg (PKB): 243 / 3.0 Parkersburg – Rockford (RFD): 389 / 3.0 Rockford – Oshkosh (OSH): 110 / 1.5 (includes OSH ground time) Oshkosh – Grove (GMJ): 525 / 4.0 Grove – Borger (BGD): 328 / 3.0 Borger – Payson (PAN): 498 / 3.5 Payson – Rosamond (L00): 342 / 3.2 Total Mileage: ~5000 nm (~5750 sm) Total Hobbs Time: ~42 hours Average Speed: ~120 nm/hour

When comparing total mileage to hobbs time, I’ve found that for our really long trips (>2000nm), we usually average around 120-125 nm/hour for the entire trip. So if you are curious as to how many hours you will realistically put on your RV for long trips, divide the nautical miles by 120 to get hours. Then take ‘Hours’ times your planes fuel burn (gallons/hour) to get the number of gallons you’ll burn. This is usually a BIG number so that’s why I look for CHEAP gas along the way. Every little bit helps!

I’ve now made several flights coast to coast in the RV, and I’m glad that I could lead the way (as Gary Sobek did for me in 2000) for a couple of first time Oshkosh pilots, Robert, Todd (and Sue). It was fun guys (and gal)! I look forward to many more trips to Oshkosh in years to come :-)

You are going to LOVE your RV, especially after you fly it to OSH! So builders; Keep poundin’ them rivets because it’s ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

Back to travel stories at www.vansairforce.net or to Paul & Victoria's travel stories

Homepage URL: http://www.PaulRosales.com/

Webmaster: Paul Rosales