Oshkosh Trip Report 2007

by Paul A. Rosales

Our very first trip to Oshkosh was in 2000, and we had GREAT time there. Flying to OSH is a trip that every pilot should make at least once in their lifetime. Of course, going more than once is a better goal, and going EVERY year is best! Living in California, flying ourselves to Oshkosh (with good weather) is always a 2-day trip. Double that to include the return trip home and there's 4 days (minimum) of flying. To maximize our days and OSH and minimize the days of vacation I need to use, we always depart on the Saturday before the start of OSH, arriving on Sunday midday, then we leave a week later on Saturday, arriving home by Sunday afternoon. Though I'd love to, I just can't go to OSH every year with the vacation days I have since there are other flying trips that we also enjoy (can you say Bahamas or Caymans? :-) Weather kept us from reaching OSH from our Alaska trip in 2001 (still need to write that trip up!). We'd also flown to OSH in 2002, 2003 and 2004. I had 'zero' vacation on the books after our 2005 (Caymans trip) and 2006 (British Virgin Islands). With another Turks & Caicos trip planned for 2007, we'd again knew we'd be at ZERO hours vacation by the start of OSH so Victoria and I were not planning to fly to OSH in 2007. However...... I learned that Formation Flying Inc (FFI) founder Stu McCurdy was planning a 35-ship RV formation to be flown at OSH 2007 in honor of Van's Aircraft 35th year anniversary of producing RV kits. WOW!!!!! A 35-ship formation....I WANT TO BE A PART OF THAT!!!!! A quick e-mail to Stu asking to join them, and his reply of 'Yes' was all I needed ;-) So with zero hours vacation to my name, I decided (and thankfully allowed by Lockheed) to go 'negative' hours in vacation bank to fly with Stu McCurdy and 33 other RVs to honor Richard VanGrunsven, founder of Van's Aircraft. Oh OH... All fliers had to be in Rock Falls, Illinois, Whiteside County Airport (SQI) on the FRIDAY before OSH started to check-in then practice on Saturday and Sunday. Friday was my 'off-Friday' from work but I HAD to be at work on Thursday since I'd be putting myself negative 40 hours of vacation the next week... The solution was to work (bank) extra hours on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday so I could leave early on Thursday to get a head start which is exactly what I did. Victoria and I departed Rosamond, CA 2-ship along with Mercedes on Thursday afternoon with the goal of reaching Albuquerque, NM. I say 'goal' since leaving after midday for New Mexico is a sure-fire way to ensure you will fly right towards the normal, summer afternoon New Mexico thunderstorms. We reached Holbrook (P14), AZ and the first line of thunder-bumpers, but thanks to the XM weather maps on the Garmin 496, we were able to safely fly north 50 miles then east/southeast around the weather into Double Eagle (AEG) airport in Albuquerque. Flight time from Rosamond (L00) to AEG was 4.2 hours. We stayed the night with Mercedes '99' friend Michelle (Davis) Judd & her husband Howard. Howard is a test pilot for Eclipse Aviation and also flies a Giles 202 that my brother Michael and his friend Mike Fowler painted;

Mercedes stayed with the Judds Friday to visit with Victoria/I continuing our flight towards Illinois. We flew 3.4 hours to MacPherson (MPR), KS for fuel then the final 3.1 hours to Whiteside County airport, landing around 3pm local time. We checked in with the group, got our cool T-shirts then had our welcoming and pre-brief for the next morning's flight with Stu McCurdy ;-)

Here's what we packed for the 1-long vacation with (blue) chairs & (green) tent bag on the bottom with (2) matching backpack-clothes bags, (1) purple drink bag, (1) backpack and (1) computer bag. (2) Tool bags are stored against the seat back.

Before heading to the hotel, I snapped these pictures of all the RVs on the ramp;

Saturday morning, briefed our morning flights which (both) were all 4-ships practice flights. I was with my SoCAL formation group with Foxtrot Flight Lead Dan "Sharpie" Checkoway, Gary "Condor" Sobek #2, myself flying #3 and Scott "Debris" Farner flying the #4 position.

We flew two 4-ship sorties in the morning, followed by lunch then we flew the all-up 35 ship formation with Stu McCurdy flying lead. This was, for all of us, the most ships we'd ever flown with, and I can tell you that it was LOADS-OF-FUN!!!!! All participants were FFI card-carrying pilots, and the flight went well. Stu debriefed the flight then back to the hotel for dinner and a good night's rest. We were back to the airport on Sunday for our 35-ship brief followed by another all-up 35-ship practice flight. This was Victoria's only opportunity to fly the 35-ship formation as no passengers are allowed when flying the waivered airspace at Oshkosh ;-) After the debrief, we had lunch then started packing planes with bags for the flight into Oshkosh. Victoria took these pics on our OSH Space-Shuttle approach to final, in trail of several 4-ships, to Runway 27 and subsequent taxi to parking;

We were greeted by RV 'chicks' Mercedes Eulitt and Katie Velvick, and after a short visit, we walked over to the famous Oshkosh sign for a picture (before the huge crowds came making a better picture hard to take). We also found time for a group picture with Greg & Beth Scates (from Rosamond), Carolyn & Gary Zilik and Scott & Debra Mills from Colorado ;-)

Monday was our day to see some of OSH since we'd be flying the 35-ship formations both Tuesday and Wednesday. We got over to visit with friend and Director of Flight Test for Eclipse, Terry Tomeny. Terry was the Chief Test Pilot for the concept V-jet that was debuted Monday. We also visited with NXT "Relentless" owner Kevin Eldredge, whose plane was also painted by my brother Michael and Mike Fowler. Mirco Pecorari designed the paint scheme.

Then it was back to the plane to unload and setup our tent in the homebuilt camping area just behind the RV parking;

The next two days went by REALLY fast, the formations went VERY WELL, and I can't tell you how proud I was to fly with a great group of pilots!!!!! MANY folks took MANY pictures so I'll just put the links here rather than try to post the pictures;

Formation Pics Link 1 Formation Pics Link 2

Here's a (Doug Reeves) picture showing my position in the full-up Diamond ;-)

Thursday and Friday went by so fast and next thing we knew, it's Saturday morning...time to start heading home. The morning sky was very colorful as we packed up camp, loaded up, taxied out and departed.

Our first stop on the way home was west ~70nm to Reedsburg (C35) Municipal airport where I had arranged the day before to meet a co-worker's parents. Brad Helley's folks live there, and every time he's in town visiting them, he stops into the Carr Valley Cheese factory to buy and bring me home fresh Wisconsin cheddar 'cheese curds' which is actually VERY fresh cheese ;-) This time, it was my turn to return the favor so we met up with them for the cheese-handoff, very well packaged in insulated box containers.

From Reedsburg, we dog-legged 30 minutes on a short flight to Rushford Municipal (55Y) for some 'cheap' fuel (rather than buy expensive fuel at OSH). There we found one of the cleanest, coolest, most comfortable airport lounges we've been to (and we've been to a LOT!!!). Nobody was around, and we used the unicom code (I think) to get in the door...a VERY NICE place to relax!

From Rushford, we continued due south ~345nm to Lee C. Fine (AIZ) Memorial airport near the Lake of the Ozarks. There, we had lunch with John & Marsha Forrest. John was our general contractor who built our skypark dream home, the last home he built in California before moving to Missouri in late 2006. Here's the descent into AIZ, the Forrests and their homesite (red-roofed shop area, big house and dark-green-roof guest house.)

As much as we would have loved to visit more and stay the night, we were barely 400nm from OSH with ~1250nm to get home. That's a lot of flying to do in one day (if we'd of stayed the night), and even more so when flying west (into the wind). So we fueled up then continued west, leaving Fine Memorial around 3pm local time. Here's Victoria and some pics of Lake of the Ozarks (and some type of big resort...)

Our next leg was ~2 hours (~245nm back) to MacPherson (MPR), KS for cheap fuel, with the last leg of the day 1.8 hours (~270nm) to Dalhart (DHT), TX. It was a long day of flying but we always make the first day the longest (make hay while the sun shines) and the second day the 'easy' day of flying. Here are some pics of the XM Weather data showing us flying towards Lincoln (K71), KS around some weather followed by the same weather on the left of our wing and ahead of us (sorry about the blurry picture but you get the idea);

Cecil Ingram, of Ingram's Flying Service, was kind enough to drop us off at the local hotel, and even kinder to pick us up Sunday morning (thank you!). We topped off the tanks then started the ~800nm flight home to Rosamond. Here's a common sight; Victoria ready to start another leg of flying, the flight over New Mexico, and a picture of the ski resort just east of Albuquerque;

We made our last fuel stop at one of our favorite stops, St. Johns Airpark (SJN). We always enjoy visiting with manager Gary (#1) Liston and with his co-worker, someone we call Gary #2 ;-) Flight time from Dalhart to St. Johns was 2.6 hours. The last leg of the day was 436nm (3.1 hours) and this familiar sight; HOME! That's the most southern edge of Edwards AFB Rogers Dry Lake Bed on the far right. Rosamond Dry Lake Bed in seen off the nose in the distance. Rosamond Skypark is located just the other side of Rosamond Dry Lake Bed;

Here's a 'north-up' view of the lake beds taken from the Space Shuttle. I put a red-dot about where Rosamond Skypark is located and a yellow-arrow on the 15,000 foot runway the shuttle lands on when it lands in California;

Flight totals for the trip were 32.4 hours flown traveling more than 4600nm ;-)

Looking back on this trip, it was an honor to fly with Stu McCurdy and 33 other fine pilots in the largest, world record, close-formation ever flown at Oshkosh. Oh yea... I'm negative 40 hours of vacation and should be back to zero hours by Christmas... NO PROBLEM!!! I can't wait for the 40th year Anniversary ;-) You will LOVE your RV so keep poundin' them rivets; it's ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

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