Oshkosh Trip Report 2004

by Paul A. Rosales

Due to lack of vacation hours (zero to be exact) as a result of traveling to the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos, earlier in the year, we were not planning on attending Oshkosh this year. I get 3 weeks/year, and they were gone by June! However...when I received an unexpected, personal note from the President of EAA, Tom Poberezny, letting me know that I had been selected as this year's recipient of FLYING magazine's Bax Seat Trophy. The award is presented each year to an EAA member in honor of the great aviation writer/columnist, Gordon Baxter. I'm not a professional writer but, WOW, what an unexpected honor :-) The note also asked if I could be at Oshkosh to receive the award at the evening program in the "Theater in the Woods". That's a no brainer....YES, I CAN BE THERE! Now, how to go to OSH with ZERO vacation on the books? The awards night was set for Thursday night, July 29 at 7:30pm. The next day, Friday, was an 'off' Friday for me a Lockheed meaning I was not scheduled to work. If we left on Wednesday morning, with good weather, we could make Oshkosh the next day (award day), spend Fri/Sat enjoying the show, head for home on Sunday traveling as far as we could then make it home Monday so I could be to work Monday night...Yes, flying an RV, this could work!

Victoria/I departed Rosamond for OSH on Wednesday morning, July 28th, at 6:30am with all intentions of flying as far as we could that day to stay in front of a 'Cold Front' that was moving from NW to SE. Flying across Arizona early morning, we flew around some rain showers, something we usually see after noontime.

We met up with Dan & Linda Masys (RV-7A) at St. Johns (AZ) and continued into Hooker (OK) as a 2-ship.

We called the phone number on the fuel pump, and a short time later, a Hooker Police Department patrol car pulled up. The Police Officer unlocked the gas pump, and we pumped our own fuel :-) We then paid the Officer cash (he'd take a check too but NO credit cards :-) Here's Dan paying the Officer, cash :-)

After departure, we flew SE, East then NE around the front. Flight Watch was SUPER with the weather reports, keeping us in the clear. We continued into Kirksville (MO) at 195-200 KTS groundspeed. !!!! Here's a picture at 200 Knots groundspeed;

Flight times were 3.0 hours to St. Johns, 3.0 hours to Hooker and 3.0 hours to Kirksville. Not wanting to possibly get stuck in Kirksville in the morning due to weather (and then having to drive some 400+ miles to Oshkosh for the award), we decided to fly one more leg to get us within 200 miles of Oshkosh (less of a drive :-) After we fueled, took a picture of the planes on the ramp then loaded up. After engine start, I looked over at Dan to see if he was ready to taxi, and I noticed that his left, main tire had sunk down into a tie-down hole, or so I thought. I asked him to taxi forward a bit, and wouldn't you know it, the 'hole' stayed with him :-( Flat tire, arghhhh!!!! We fixed that with some air and tried again;

With a setting sun, we continued one more leg (1.5 hours) into Rockford, IL (near Chicago), landing at 8:30pm local time: 10.5 hours on the hobbs and 12.0 hours on the watch since leaving Rosamond: 6:30am-6:30pm day of flying. Did I mention then enroute to Rockford, my alternator light came on?!?

This was the most flying Victoria/I have ever done in the RV in one day but we wanted to get within 4 hours driving distance to OSH should we be weathered in Thursday morning and have to drive to OSH. We REALLY wanted to make it there to receive the Bax Seat award in person :-) Thanks for flying the last leg Masys'! Thursday morning, I pulled the cowl and found nothing loose on the alternator (belt was fine). We were inside of an hour's flight to OSH so I decided I'd rather be fixing my alternator at OSH instead of Rockford. Dan led the way and the next thing you know, we're on the ground at OSH (with the battery at 11.5 volts, no problem). Here are some pictures taken taxiing to RV parking;

We got the plane tied down then made our way towards the west gate, near where the 'Bus Park' is located. We camp in the backyard of a private residence, the first house out the gate which is a VERY short walk to the RV parking area. For those of you familiar, that's Exhibit Hall "C" in the center picture, looking south from our tent (Friend Greg's tent is under the clothes line in the last picture :-)

A few hours later, we had a great evening at the Theater in the Woods. I was able to meet back stage with FLYING magazine's Editor, Mac McClellan. That was great! Also backstage was Van himself, there to receive the Freedom of Flight Award, which by the way, is EAA's highest award presented. I also saw FAA Administrator Marion Blakey but she was reviewing her notes, and I didn't want to interrupt her. Onstage, Mac first spoke about Gordon Baxter, the award itself and then said some very nice things about us, our travels, my trip reports and magazine articles. It was a moment I will forever remember as I was truly honored.

Following the awards presentation, we all much enjoyed Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill's talk on SpaceShipOne. They spoke to a PACKED house, and it was fun! Mike presented Tom Poberezny with a $20 bill that flew with Mike on SpaceShipOne. Here are some pictures of Mike (on left) and Burt narrating the slideshow on their backs;

Friday and Saturday was mostly a 'blur' as it went by so fast. We did spend time in the 4 big vendor buildings spending lots of money....my friend Craig's money as we bought avionics for his Velocity panel :-) I also bought a Blue Mountain EFIS/Lite (for the HSI function) with autopilot for our plane and will start my IFR training later this year. We also walked towards the museum to the EAA Memorial Wall and found the name of one of our EAA Chapter 49 founding Members, Lyle E. Fleming;

Saturday afternoon, RV-8 driver Jeff Farrar drove us to town to the aviation department at 'National Aviation Parts Association' (NAPA) where we bought an alternator. I completed a field repair in the RV parking lot that took longer than expected as I had to find an air impact gun to change out the pulley. I finally found help at the 'Homebuilders Repair Shop'. Unfortunately, we missed our ride to the Van's Banquet :-( We did find time to have James Clark (smiling back) take a picture in front of the famous 'sign' and visit with SoCAL RVers John Hughes and Dwain Harris (seated);

Also, Saturday's edition of AirVenture Today published an article about my award :-)

Sunday morning, we got all packed up then taxied out for departure;

By chance, we ended up on the runway with Lubbock RVer Judy Stocks (last pic above). We departed for home and joined up inflight with SoCAL RVer Robert Paisley (Subaru RV-7) and flew south towards Jefferson City (MO). Within 15 miles of Jefferson City, Subie smelled oil so we landed at nearby Fulton airport. After pulling his cowl, he found that a seal was leaking (good news), and it was going to take several hours to repair (bad news).

I REALLY HAD TO BE at work the next day (Monday), so with Robert tucked away in a nearby hangar with folks there offering help, Victoria/I continued solo ship to Winfield (KS) then Clovis (NM) for fuel. We landed back at St. Johns (AZ) just after dark (8 hours on the hobbs). We used the airport car to get to the nearby motel as I'd called ahead and arranged to have the keys in the ignition. Subie called to let me know he got his plane repaired and was in Dodge City (KS). Monday morning, we fueled then flew 30 minutes into Payson (AZ) for breakfast with our friend Debbie who lives in Payson. Here are some pictures of St. Johns Airpark then Lake Havasu (Airport);

We then continued 2.5 hours home, landing at noontime. I was able to get to work at 3pm, and Subie arrived home around the same time :-) We put 24 hours on the plane, flew to OSH and back, changed out an alternator and burned 4 quarts of oil...

You will LOVE your RV so keep poundin' them rivets! Paul & Victoria

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