AirVenture ’99 – to Oshkosh and Back with Friends
By Steve Aughinbaugh (August 1999)
The flight to OSH
The trip to Oshkosh went very well this year. There was a little bit of concern among the group about having to get up at 4:00 AM so that we could leave by 5:30 AM, but we all made it OK. It was not much of a problem for me because I don't sleep much the night before leaving for OSH since I am so keyed-up waiting to go. Monday night I believe that I saw every hour on the clock from 10 PM when I laid down to go to sleep until 4 AM. I still got my rest, just not a lot of sleep. So we loaded the airplane at 5:00 AM and the wheels left the runway right at 5:30 like we planned. It was still dark with a clear sky. I had checked the weather before we left and the weather in the DFW area was crystal clear. There was the traditional (for this time of year) front across the middle of the country, but we would not see it until after we left Oklahoma. Our first stop was Jones Riverside in Tulsa (RVS) just across the river from Oral Roberts University. We thought we would get to see a pretty sunrise but were disappointed by its lack of color. It just gradually got brighter as the sun rose over the right wing.
I was sitting in the front left seat. This is the normal seat for the PIC (pilot in command). Mike was in the front right seat. A pretty normal location for him since he is a flight instructor. Cindy was behind me and Sallye (not a misspelling, Sallye's mom was creative) was behind Mike. Cindy enjoys following along with the charts. So she and Sallye were busy doing that most of the flight. Sallye is an air traffic controller at the McKinney airport where I did most of my flight training so she was able to explain some of the chart information to Cindy that she had not already figured out or that I had neglected to tell her about. Cindy has become very good at reading the chart, so I was certain that we would not get lost. Besides, both Mike and I had our GPSes mounted on the yokes in front of us. We would have had to try very, very hard to get lost.
Cindy and Sallye had the job of keeping up with the charts to make sure Mike and I were going where we expected to. Mike's job was radio communication. He contacted all of the controllers that we needed to talk to and would call the in flight weather service or flight-watch as it is know. After landing at RVS in Tulsa and refueling we left there for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We had left Aero Country with 40 gallons of fuel and this was the first time that we would have a full 50 gallons and 300 pounds of fuel. This would put us right at the gross weight of 2400 pounds for my 63 Cherokee 180. Not a problem, but the airplane does handle a little differently and does not climb as well at this weight. We had tried to limit everyone on how much luggage to pack. For the most part everyone did real well. Cindy and I were able to get all that we needed into one carry-on size bag and my knapsack.
Taking off from Jones Riverside, Mike asked the controller if we could make a left turn so that we could fly over Oral Roberts. The tower controller cleared us for the left-hand turn and we were able to see the praying-hands statue in the morning sun light. The next controller directed us to climb to the north and then turned us so that we crossed over the north end of Tulsa International giving us a great view of Tulsa and its major airport. This leg was the long leg on the trip up. We had landed at RVS at 7:05, just over one and half-hours after leaving Aero Country (TX05). It would take us almost 4 hours to get to Cedar Rapids. Near Kansas City, Mike talked to Flight Watch and we deviated a bit to the north to miss some isolated thunderstorms. We were cruising at 5,500 feet with a pretty solid overcast above us and scattered clouds below us. On the whole trip we never flew into any rain even though we knew there were areas where there was or had been some rain. As we neared Cedar Rapids, Mike decided to file an instrument flight plan mostly so that I could practice descending through the clouds. The clouds were scattered enough that we could have conducted the whole flight under visual flight rules or VFR. The controller managed our flight into Cedar Rapids and I handled the flying on the instruments very well with a little bit of encouragement and advice from Mike. We came out of the clouds at about 2,000 feet. We were actually in and out of them all the way down from 5,000 feet. Cedar Rapids is a fair sized airport in the middle of cornfields. We landed uneventfully at 11:20 just a bit ahead of schedule and 3.9 hours after leaving Tulsa.
At Cedar Rapids, we had the airplane refueled and borrowed a very nice courtesy car to go into town for lunch. None of us were interested in a heavy lunch, so we stopped at a Subway shop. With a bit of rest and lunch out of the way it was back into N642RJ at 12:30 and on to Oshkosh. The clouds that had been present when we landed were now gone for the most part. We had a great view of the city and rolling farmland as we climbed to 5,500 over eastern Iowa.
About an hour and a half later we were approaching the beginning of the VFR arrival at OSH over the small town of Ripon. It was only at this point that we began to see any other airplanes. Using good cockpit resource management (CRM, that is an FAA term that means that everyone knows what their role is in an airplane), the four of us divided up the sky. My responsibility was first, fly the airplane (always job number one!) and scan for airplanes from the front center to just in front of the left wing. Mike scanned from front center to just in front of the right wing. Sallye had from the right wing back and Cindy had from the left wing back.
I descended to the required 1800 feet and slowed to 90 knots crossing over Ripon and lining up over the railroad tracks going northeast. There were a couple of airplanes in the distance nearer to OSH. Sallye called out the first airplane. A twin passing us at 2300 feet and going faster. That is the procedure for airplanes that can not slow to 90, stay at 2300 and maintain 135 knots. There was a bit of excitement in Sallye's voice. Partly because of the closeness of the twin and partly because we were about to land at the busiest airport in the world. All of us were excited to be flying into OSH.
As we approached Ripon I had turned on every light that the N642RJ has. She has a lot of them. The rotating beacon above the tail was on. The nose landing light was on. The 3 recognition lights were on. The wing tip and tail strobes were flashing. And of course the wing tip landing lights were flashing back and forth. You can imagine that we could be seen by anyone looking in our direction. As confirmation of that we were indeed identifiable the controller over the second waypoint at Fisk radioed "Cherokee with flashing lights, acknowledge by rocking wings". I smiled and gave them a solid wing rock or two. We were now directed to switch over from the approach frequency to the runway 27 tower frequency and proceed to a right downwind entry for 27.
The other airplanes in front of us were taking the long route to the runway with a very wide downwind and a base leg a mile or so out over the lake. Being a veteran now and with Mike’s guidance (actually it was more like his insistence) we stayed in close on downwind and began our descent. Just abeam of the numbers we began our base leg merging in with other traffic but well ahead of the airplanes that were on the wide patterns. We were rewarded with a "great job Cherokee!, land on the green dot" from the tower controller. It is always a good feeling to get a compliment from the controllers that volunteer for Oshkosh. The Green dot was the middle of the three touchdown spots on 27. I believe that a Cessna was landing on the orange dot 1500 feet in front of us at the same time. We touched down smoothly and were directed to exit the runway to the right.
We had arrived at Oshkosh! As I touched down nicely and slowing the airplane to exit the runway to the right this year, we displayed our GAP sign as requested in the arrival procedures stating that we wanted to park in the General Aviation Parking area. GAC for the General Aviation Camping area would have been our other choice since we are not flying a classic, homebuilt and N642RJ could never be mistaken for a warbird! We were able to park very close to where we parked last year. This is a good spot since it is near an area where we can park the car for unloading and loading the airplane. I shut the engine down at 2:30, 25 minutes ahead of what I had flight planned.
We all piled out of the airplane and smiled at each other as we were hearing and seeing the swarm of activity and airplanes moving and landing around us. I tied down the airplane as the rest stretched their legs and gathered the few things that we wanted to take with us to get the car. The sun was shining bright, if not a bit too warm, with a nice breeze. Sallye, our personal air traffic controller, had as big a smile on her face as I had after my first approach and landing at OSH. It was a great flight, but the fun was just beginning.
The Convention and Airshows
Let me start of by telling you some of the facts and figures about AirVenture '99 or Oshkosh 1999:
· This includes: 654 Homebuilts, 410 Warbirds, 586 Antique or Classic and 117 Ultralights.
We arrived on Tuesday at 2:30 PM, the day before the official opening of the convention. At this point the General Aviation Camping area was almost full. This is the area where you can camp beside your airplane. The General Aviation Parking area where we parked N642RJ was about 90% full. You can camp here, but you have a long, long walk to the showers. After we tied the airplane down we waited for one of the shuttle busses to take us around from the north side to the south side of the east-west runway. We needed to meet Mike's long-time friend, Dave, to get the car and the keys to the apartment that we would be staying at. Dave has worked on the Oshkosh EAA security force for several years and manages the main entrance to the grounds. We found Dave at his normal location after exiting the bus and then walking for about three-quarters of a mile. (At Oshkosh you do a lot of walking, a lot!) Dave is a car collector and this year he loaned us a big Ford Continental.
After getting the car and a parking pass for it, we drove into the large camping area. This is the Camp Scholler area that I noted above that had 35,000 people camped in it over the period of the convention. Mike has another friend who lives in Hawaii during the most of the year but spends the summer in a Bounder visiting friends and events all over the mainland. They had arrived at Camp Scholler about 2 weeks early to get a great camping spot and to relax. Bud had another great spot this year. It was about the third slot from the campground entrance to the exhibits and the flight line. This was our meeting location for the beginning and the end of each day. One of the fun things about Oshkosh is the people that you meet and the friendships that are created. There are people that have been meeting every year at Oshkosh for the past 30 years. For many of them this is the only time each year that the see each other. Bud, Mike and others in the group have a common thread that all of them have lived in or are living in Hawaii. They have been meeting here every year for about 25 years!
After visiting, it was time to head back to the north side and N642RJ to get our luggage. We were able to park the car near the airplane and in a short time had all of our luggage loaded for the short trip to the apartment. Oshkosh is a modest sized college town. The apartment that Dave has is the third floor of a nice house that he rents just north of downtown. There are two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room with a sofa hide-a-bed. A good TV, a small refrigerator and a microwave round it out. A great place to stay. But with this being Wisconsin, air-conditioning is not as great a need as it is in Texas. Only one of the bedrooms had a window air-conditioner. Most days during Oshkosh this is not an issue at all. Nighttime temperatures are normally in the 50's or at least 60's, but for this year that was not true for the first 3 days. I had forgotten what it was like sleeping, or at least trying to sleep with no air-conditioning and 70+ humid nights. Growing up in Indiana I had spent many a night in these same conditions. A good fan helps but it is still uncomfortable.
The next morning we made our daily stop at the donut shop in downtown Oshkosh. We brought donuts with us every morning for Bud and his visitors. The exhibits open at 9:00 AM every day and close at 5:00 PM but other activities are going on almost all of the time. Daily forums start at 8:30 AM in 10 to 12 tents or buildings. In the past the all the forums were conducted in large tents, but this year there about 4 new permanent forum buildings that had been built and sponsored by various companies. The topics for the forums range from Flying to the Bahamas to techniques for making propellers and more. We spent the first morning shopping in the Fly Market. The Fly Market is a small tent city with vendors of all types. Most are aviation related but some are not, such as the veggie-matic and Ginsu knives vendors. We decided that having some aviation pictures would be nice and toward the middle of the Fly Market we found a vendor with some great pictures. Cindy purchased a beautiful picture of a Bearcat for her brother's birthday present and another picture of FIFI the only remaining flying B-29. We came back the next day and I purchased two 8 x 10's, a Corsair and an AT-6 Texan. I also ordered a tribute to the Blue Angels. This is a great picture of one the current F/A-18 Hornets that they now perform in plus in the same frame pins of each of the 8 different airplanes that they have performed in over the years. All of the pictures from this vendor are framed in great looking wood frames and priced better than any of the others that we looked at.
While we were in the Fly Market we bought Cindy an airshow chair. I had mine from 2 years ago and she needed one. The chair is a 4-legged aluminum chair that folds into a cane. It is easy to carry around with you and fairly comfortable when sitting on it. We used the chairs several times during the week. The first time was for that afternoon's airshow. We found a spot near show center and about 15 feet back from the flight line. For those that have never been to Oshkosh, it might be hard for you tell when the airshow really starts. The reason is that there is always something flying by all day long. In the morning, kit vendors or others do fly-bys as the announcers or marketing types describe the features of the airplanes. Also any EAA member can get permission with a fly-by briefing to take his airplane up in the fly-by pattern and show off his pride and joy. Some of these are pretty interesting and I have had fun in the past finding the wing of a nice airplane to nap under while I waited for an interesting airplane to fly by.
At about 1:00 PM the warbird airshow begins. During this time groups of various warbirds will take-off in formation and then either do fly-bys or fly over in various formations. They are always lots of AT-6's and T-34s, 50 or more each plus Corsairs, Bearcats, B-17s, B-25, MIGs, lots of P-51s and more. The sounds are wonderful to hear. The large radial engines come to life on the runway and scream toward the blue sky. At about 3, the official airshow begins with the Liberty Parachute team. The last skydiver drops an American flag tethered to him and usually he is circled by a smoke-trailing bi-plane on the way down. They begin the singing of the National Anthem so as to hit the last note as the flag touches down at show center. That is the start of the airshow. Everything up to that point was just a warm-up!
The airshow is about 3 hours long and includes almost anything that you would want to see. Helicopters in formation and near vertical attitudes; a gyro-copter, a paraplegic pilot in a hang-glider, and aerobatic sail-plane, wing-walker routines and a jet powered Waco bi-plane in addition to some of the best airshow aerobatic pilots in the world. Sean Tucker is still my favorites. It is hard to do him and any of the others performers at Oshkosh justice with mere words. Shawn flies a black and yellow Pitts bi-plane and can make it do almost anything that he wants to. He can actually hang the airplane almost motionless in the air in front of the flight line. He can do all manner of loops and rolls and tumbles but with such skill that you never doubt that he is in complete control of what looks like chaos at times. Another great performer is Patty Wagstaff who flies an Extra 300 monoplane. She and Shawn are neck and neck in their abilities and skill level.
One of the more interesting acts this year was Jimmy Franklin in his jet-assisted Waco bi-plane. I noticed it taxiing out the first day and wondered aloud to Cindy what that tube on the bottom of his airplane was. Well, I found out! He had mounted the jet engine from a Citation jet to the underside of an otherwise normal Waco bi-plane. He could use either the normal big radial engine out front or when he wanted a bit more power, fire up the jet strapped to the belly! It is a really interesting sight and an even funnier sound to see and hear the jet kick in and watch that old bi-plane streak skyward faster then it should. It just sounded so funny to hear that jet engine sound coming from a 1940's bi-plane. But it was coming from it and boy did it make it go! The last day that we watched the airshow, he even had his 20-something son climb out on the wing and do a little wing-walking while he did his routine. I don't believe that he used quite as much power during the wing-walking but I am sure that it added a bit more excitement for his son whenever he powered the jet up.
This was Cindy's first airshow and she was impressed and entertained. We had a great time watching the performances and exploring the exhibits. One morning we walked through the warbird parking area on our way to watch the morning arrivals. We were both impressed with the size of some of the WW II warbirds with the huge propellers and large engines. Some of these engines generate over 2,300 HP! At the far end of the warbird area we found and sat under the wing of a modest sized WW II military transport airplane. With the scanner on we could listen to the tower controller as he managed the traffic landing on runway 27. He (and sometimes she) is almost always talking. Directing some airplanes to land long, some short and some on the numbers, mixing J-3 Cubs with Citation jets. It is this variety that makes Oshkosh so interesting. You would not think that it would be that interesting to watch the arrivals, but it is. At one point we heard the controller talking to a twin-engine Commander which is a good-sized airplane. He ended up bring the twin over the top of a Cessna 172! The 172 was directed to land on the numbers and the Twin Commander to land long. They had plenty of separation due to the different landing spots on the runway and the differences in their landing speeds. But, you would not see that at any place other than Oshkosh. It turned out that later in the week we met the pilot of the Twin Commander at Bud's campsite! They had a business in Plano where we live that they had just sold and were now living just south of Dallas! It’s a small world after all. (I hope that didn’t start that tune spinning through your head!)
The exhibitors at Oshkosh are great and a good deal of fun to browse. There are avionics vendors, headset vendors, hanger and hanger door manufactures, lots of airplane and kit plane vendors, type clubs, aviation magazines and more. I normally spend most of my money with these people, partly because you can get some great deals here and partly because it is so fun walking away with it right now instead of ordering through the mail. But this year I had already got most of what I wanted for the airplane at Sun N’ Fun (the second largest EAA convention). Cindy and I did get some other great stuff in the exhibits area. I got a Piper-logo'd polo shirt and a Oshkosh '99 Flying magazine polo shirt. Cindy got a very pretty blouse with a rhinestone picture or design of a bi-plane amongst the stars (you'll have to see it to appreciate it, but it is really pretty). I also got her some airplane earrings. Oh and I almost forgot, Cindy got me a cap that has my airplane and N-number embroidered on it. They had a computer controlled embroiderer that could do various designs include one that looks a lot like my Cherokee and we got to pick the colors so that they matched what N642RJ has. Now other pilots can instantly recognize me as a fellow pilot and aircraft owner when I am wearing it. :)
On Friday, we spent most of the day in the EAA Museum because of the heat and because the museum is a great place to visit. The heat and humidity on Friday was truly oppressive. This was the first time in the year that I have had Cindy tell me that even she felt hot! I had told her that the weather at Oshkosh could vary greatly from day to day and year to year. We had watched the weather for Oshkosh the week before we left and had packed light, cool clothes. We were also prepared just in case there was a cool day. To save weight in the airplane we had mailed one day’s worth of heavier cool-weather clothes to Dave before we left. In the three years that I have been at Oshkosh, it has mostly been dry with only one rainy day and there was one day that I returned to my campsite to get a jacket for the afternoon airshow. Back to the museum.
The museum has displays of many historic airplanes. The Molt Taylor's Aerocar is an interesting example of one of the exhibits. This was a design that was both an airplane and a car. The wings folded back and then the tail and wings could be detached from the car part and either left behind or towed behind the car. There is also an exhibit with a full-scale mock-up of the Voyager fuselage. This is the only airplane to fly around the world non-stop without refueling. We happened to be going through that part of the museum while Dick Rutan, one of the pilots of that flight, was speaking to the crowd about the experience of flying Voyager around the world. While Dick Rutan is not always speaking at the museum it is still a must see place if you are in Oshkosh, WI, especially on a hot and humid day!
There was one sad and unfortunate incident this year that we witnessed. There was a take-off accident during the warbird airshow. Cindy and I were near the front of the flight line about a half-mile from the where the accident occurred. We had just watched the last of the T-34’s take-off in groups of 3 when two Corsairs started to take-off behind a couple of Bearcats. For reasons as yet unknown, the Bearcats were not moving. The Corsair on the right recognized this and was able to exit the runway and ground-looped his airplane missing the Bearcat on the right. But the Corsair on the left attempted to go between Howard Pardue’s Bearcat on the left and the other Bearcat. Laird Doctor from Addison’s Cavanaugh Flight Museum was flying the Corsair. His left wing and Howard’s right wing made contact. It sheared off half of the Bearcat’s wing and almost all of the Corsair’s wing. The Corsair was just beginning to lift off and the lift on the right wing caused Laird’s Corsair to cartwheel in front of Howard’s Bearcat and off the left side of the runway. The fuel exploded as the two wings sheared each other off and then as it left the runway on the left, the Corsairs right wing exploded. It was a surreal sight and immediately brought the crowd to its feet with a silence falling over the airport.
The announcers immediately acknowledge that a major accident had occurred and suggested that everyone stay back and let the emergency crews do what they are trained to do. The crews did respond quickly, but it did not look like anyone could have survived such an accident. The announcers stated that the airshow would definitely be delayed and would likely be restarted after the accident investigation. They also suggested that there were many other things to do and that if you had small children that you should take them and do something else. All good advice.
We later learned that being an airplane designed for warfare the Corsair did its job and saved the life of its pilot when the cockpit separated from the main wreckage and fire. Laird Doctor was taken to a local hospital with head injuries. The last report that I have is that he was in stable but serious condition. I have this from the Cavanaugh Flight Museum website: "Lad has significant damage to his spinal cord at the C3 vertebrae. It is not severed. Miraculously, he has no brain damage, burns or other significant injuries. While Lad is experiencing paralysis in his arms and legs, doctors will not know the extent of the damage for several days or weeks." This was last updated on 8/18/1999. I am sure that we all hope and pray for his full recovery. You can visit the Cavanaugh website at: http://www.cavanaughflightmuseum.com.
I have not told you much about the other major activity at Oshkosh, eating. The situation has improved over the last few years on the grounds themselves. Up until about 3 years ago Zaugs was the only food vendor. They are still there and their prices were always reasonable, but not cheap. There are now various vendors including McDonalds. There are various "cafes" that have hamburgers or other sandwiches. One of them serves some pretty good fried fish. But the best food can be had at one of the many restaurants in town. Vitales Italian Cuisine has great Italian food. The Granary has a great atmosphere and good food. And the Chalice has some of the best Gazpacho that I have ever had. They only serve sandwiches but these are some of the biggest that you will ever order and they are great!
The trip home to Texas
We had decided to leave for home on Sunday. The airshows on the weekend are always a bit better, but there are also quite a few more people there watching them as well. We enjoyed the expanded airshow on Saturday. It ended with a Harrier Jump-jet demonstration. This was the first time that Cindy has seen a Harrier and it is an impressive sight to see something that big lift straight up off the concrete, hover and then streak off to the horizon at a high speed. It is almost alien. Needless to say, but my humble 180 HP airplane takes off a bit more conventionally.
We loaded the airplane up early Sunday morning. On the way back there were only three of us since Sallye had left using American Airlines on Friday. It was a good thing because somehow we ended up having the extra stuff that we collected occupying the seat that Sallye had used on the way to Oshkosh. The departure from OSH is normal except for two things. One is that you line up on the runway on either the left or right side with another airplane beside you. The procedure is that the controller will release one of you and then the other one after they are about 500 feet ahead. In my case they released the airplane to my left first and then I followed them into the sky. Which is the second difference. You are only allowed to climb to 1300 feet (about 500 feet above the ground) until you are clear of the OSH airspace or about 5 miles out. This is so that you avoid the incoming traffic at 1800 and 2300 feet.
As we lifted-off at 9 AM, Cindy took pictures of the EAA convention grounds off our left wing. We were looking out over a sea of airplanes and people. From Oshkosh we headed southeast. Yes, I know Texas would be southwest, but we wanted to do some sightseeing of the Lake Michigan coastline and the skyline of Chicago on the way home. When you are this far from home (about 900 statue miles) deviations like this do not add much to the total distance or time. In this case it only added about 75 miles and another 30 minutes to the more direct seven-hour route.
We approached Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee, WI. Mike contacted Milwaukee approach and asked them for permission to cross their airspace on the east side over the lake. At first he was concerned that we might want to stay in close to the shore and that we would be in the path for the airliners landing at General Mitchell International airport. Mike assured him that we would be willing to go out over the lake far enough that we would not be a concern. The controller agreed and gave us a heading and transponder code to enter his airspace. It was an almost perfectly clear day and we could see all of the city and the people on the beachfront. The controller called back and said that he would not take us out far. About 3 miles out he turned us parallel to the shore just as we were coming up on a large group of sailboats. There must have been 50 or 60 sailboats bobbing and skimming across the lake below us. We were just over 500 feet above the water so we had a great view.
Soon we were leaving the Milwaukee airspace. We thanked the controller for his help and continued on toward Chicago at 500 feet and about a half mile off the shoreline. At this point we could begin to see the Chicago skyline come into view in the distance. On the shore north of Chicago there are some beautiful and large homes and estates. As we approached Chicago we stayed below the class B airspace. Mike entered the Meigs Field tower frequency and we began to hear the traffic and controller. Soon we could see Navy Pier as we were beginning to pass downtown with the John Hancock and Sears towers over the right wing. It is interesting to be flying and still looking up at buildings. I guess that is why they are call skyscrapers. These certainly are tall enough to be in clouds on some days. The buildings of downtown Chicago and its streets create the appearance of mountains and valleys and in their own way they have their own beauty. I still prefer the more natural mountains and valleys to these man-made ones.
Mike contacted the Meigs tower as we swung out further in the lake to stay clear of Navy Pier and the Meigs airspace. We crossed right over some of the water intakes that the city uses to keep its citizens happy. It takes a lot of water to keep a city the size of Chicago running and Lake Michigan is certainly up to the challenge. The lake is over 300 miles long and 80 miles at its widest.
After leaving the Chicago area we climbed to 6,500 feet for the 3 remaining hours to our refueling stop at Osage Beach, MO. The flight across Illinois and Missouri was uneventful with only a few clouds as we descended into K15. The most noticeable event was the rising temperature. Even at 6,500 feet we could tell that we were getting closer to the 100+ temperatures of Dallas. At K15 we met a friend of ours. Dan had met and stayed with us at Oshkosh last year and he is a life long friend of Mike’s. Dan lives on the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Dan and his brother have homes that are side by side on one of the many fingers of this very large lake. We flew over part of it as we were approaching K15. The shoreline of Lake of the Ozarks is, incredibly, greater than 1,150 miles, more than the coastline of the entire state of California! This area offers a great many activities for the residents as well as tourist. If you are interested in more information see: http://www.odd.net/ozarks.
Today we were here to visit Dan and his wife. We landed at 1:00 PM, 4.0 hours after leaving OSH. Dan was waiting for us and in fact was just turning into the airport as we were entering the pattern. Dan noted how nice the flashing tips lights looked. I am sure that he said that just to see if it would generate a big smile from me. It did. Dan had recently purchased a Mooney 201 that he keeps at another airport that is 10 minutes further south. Dan updated us on his new airplane while we drove to his home. We met Dan’s wife there and jumped in the boat for a 10-minute trip to a lakeside restaurant. The lake breeze was refreshing and relaxing.
After a nice lunch and visit, it was back to the airport for the last leg of the trip. We left Osage Beach at 4:25 PM for the last 355 miles. Our route took us right over Springfield, MO and Fayetteville, AR. Near McAlester, OK we climbed to 8,500 feet to get to some less humid and cooler air. We also ended up with lower headwinds at that altitude. There was a hazy layer at 6,500 generating the higher humidity. As we neared the Red River, we could see the normal afternoon scattered thunderstorms that dot the horizon this time of the year in Texas. They were not a factor for us. Just south of the Red River we began our descent to Aero Country and the 103-degree heat.
Mike announced our intention to approach straight in on a 3-mile final to 17 at TX05. We kept a sharp eye out for other traffic but Aero Country was not nearly as busy as OSH! At 7:45 PM we taxied to my hanger and shutdown. Not a bad trip all in all. We were all tired but glad that we had made the trip. As the three of us unpacked N642RJ we began discussing plans for Airventure ’00 next year! If you ever get the chance, go to EAA’s big event at Oshkosh, WI. You will love it.