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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Oshkosh Airventure 2017

After a very hot and uncomfortable Oshkosh 2016, I was looking forward to this year more than ever. I was teased for starting to count down the days at 300. I spent weeks getting the plane ready for the show, doing the annual inspection, cleaning and polishing and touching up the paint. I even installed two new Gopro mounts.

This year, the crew was to be Nancy, my friend Garret and his girlfriend, Kathryn. After an uncomfortable time last year, my son, Sean, decided to take a year off from the show. He's just not that into flying in any case.

For our part, we were all very excited for the show. The weather promised to be great for the show with comfortable temperatures and low humidity. The weather on the way to and from the show....not so much. After spending a lot of time with online weather and with a briefer, it looked like there were two choices to get around a huge area of weather marching right along our flight path. We could either go south to Kentucky and Iowa, then north or we could go north to Canada and work our way westward.  With the speed and range of the Velocity, either was doable. We decided to launch early on Saturday on the northern route.

I ended up getting thousands of still pictures of the trip. I also got hours of video from four different cameras. That has been a lot of work to process and edit. This blog entry will be mostly stills, with videos to follow. 
Clean, fueled and ready to launch on the night before departure


Here's a shot of the plane from the winglet cam as I hop in to take off for the trip.


Here are some shots of the departure.

Lined up and ready to go.

Shot from the winglet came as we take off at Chester County. Love the plane shadow.


First sight - a hot air balloon taking off
Visibility falls as we cross the ridge

Fairly clear at home, but supposed to worsen en route
Winglet cam view of the gloom.


Here are some shots of the crew as we head north into the hazy conditions.


This is the view from the cabin facing Gopro.



As predicted, the visibility gets worse and worse as we head north. We decide to set down in Niagara to check weather and let the closest front pass over us.

View of the screens

The screeens show that weather is closing in from all sides as we approach Niagara. Definitely time to set down.


Here's a video of the approach and landing at Niagara International.

On the ground at Niagara International. Next step, find some food. We have been up since 6:30 and flying since 7:00.


Luckily, there is a great breakfast place right across the street from the FBO. Portions were massive and the food was great. Just what I needed.

That should hold me until lunch

Garret looks happy with his modest serving

Happy campers

The  briefer said things would clear in about 3 hours, so we caught an Uber ride to the falls and did the tourist thing.
On the way to the Falls
Nancy and I at the American falls
Nancy looks out at the Canadian side

Garret and Kathryn


The falls were beautiful.



After touring the falls, we head back to the airport and check weather again. We get good news and bad news. Conditions locally have come up to about 3,000 and 5 miles. However, large storms are headed toward us on both the north and south sides of Lake Erie. We decide that the only way to make it is to head down to Cincinnati over the length of the lake. Not very appealing, but we decide to give it a try as we are told that conditions after that will be improving and actually great at Oshkosh.

Taxi to the runway  in light rain

Murky on climbout, but better over the lake as predicted.

Our heading down the lake just off the southern shore

The forecast was correct. Once out over the lake, conditions weren't too bad. We kept the shoreline in sight and proceeded southwest at 190 knots.

View of the edge of the weather on the southern shore of Lake Erie

Continuing down the lake

Dodging between the fronts

Conditions begin to clear as we near Cincinnati

Glimpses of blue sky as thing brighten up

Upper layer starts to break up

Much better

Sunshine at last. ADSB on the Nav says lower layer breaks up ahead.

As we progress, the cloud layer below us starts to break up and we descend.


We drop below the broken layer of clouds at 1,900 feet and land at DeKalb, Illinois for fuel and a weather check. Here is a video of the landing at Dekalb.


As we land, we are followed in by a group of other Oshkosh planes. Conditions are fine ahead and we know we will make it to Oshkosh. It is now 5:00 and we text Brett and Elizabeth at the show to tell them we should be in by shortly after 6:00. 

Late afternoon light on a line of OSH bound planes

Our last fuel stop before Oshkosh

Here are some still shots from the Gopro video of our takeoff from Dekalb. Beautiful!

Taking off into the afternoon light and puffy clouds

Climbing turn on course over Dekalb

Above the low cloud layer on our last leg to the show.

Here is our crazy route avoiding weather on the way to the show.


At last, we reach Ripon and start the approach. It is extremely busy and we have a hard time staying at 90 knots, but we are given clearance to Runway 36L, which is a nice easy landing. Here's a shot of the turn to final for landing with the show on the left. 


Brett and Elizabeth got our text and are waiting at the arrival end of 36 to video our arrival. I am thrilled, as we have videos of departure from the ground, but have never had an arrival filmed from that perspective. I will edit all 5 views together for a great composite video of the arrival. In the meantime, here is Brett's video. Thanks!


My trophy shot - Short final for 36L at Oshkosh, plane shadow and all. Love it.


Made it! We are tied down at Oshkosh for the 9th flight in and my 27th visit to the show. I LOVE this week and am ready to go. We are hot and tired after being in transit for 12 hours dodging weather in marginal conditions.

Brett and Elizabeth somehow talk their way through the gate and drive right up to the plane in their huge rental van. Hilarious. We then drive all over the show in the van, just because we could. 
Still from the winglet Gopro of our arrival

Made it! Happy campers.

Brett and other Velocity folks arrive within minutes. Great to see you guys!

Kathryn takes flight

Elizabeth drives us all around the airport in our minivan and no one stopped us. The arch, the tower, everywhere. I've never done this.  I was cracking up. You won't get to do this once the show opens.

Thumbs up from Brett as we drive past the tower.

...and the AOPA building.

The EAA arch at show center. Why not, says Elizabeth.

We are hungry again (see a pattern emerging? ) so we drive directly to Friar Tuck's for dinner. It is one of our Oshkosh favorites. Think I'll go light with my usual whole prime rib on a bun with a giant slab of cheese. Of course, we'll need some fried mushrooms and cheese sticks to lay down a good base for that.  Good times.

The girls perk up considerably several cold drinks later

Ahhhh, our first dinner at Oshkosh 2017.

Following our SOAP (Standard Oshkosh Arrival Procedure), we head to the grocery for snacks and various liquids to stock our dorm rooms. Everybody is in such a good mood that even this part is fun.

Welcome signs everywhere

Nancy presents the Target EAA collection.

The next morning, it's breakfast in the dorm cafeterria, then a quick bus ride to the show. The bus picks us up right in front of the cafeteria and drops us at the entrance. Even though we have a rental car, we usually do this because it is so convenient and, at only $1.50 per person, cheaper than parking.

Elizabeth makes her mad face as Brett gets all 5th grade with a donut and hot dog.

On the bus to the dorms. Very excited and all wearing our Oshkosh gear.

Me taking a picture of Brett taking a picture. Don't ask- its a thing.

Finally, it is time to head to our first full day on the field. After breakfast and the bus ride, we make our traditional formation entrance with winglets. 

Garret, Brett and I in formation show entry at main gate.


The Velocity Aircraft booth is just inside the gate. We stop by and say hello to Scott and Bonnie Swing. Velocity has been owned and operated by the Swing family for decades. It is one of the things that influenced my decision to buy not one, but two kits from them. There truly is a Velocity family of builders.


On the walk to the plane we run into more builders, Tom and Loretta Iron (former grand champs at Oshkosh) and John Youngblood, also an award winner. Everyone flashes the "V sign" for Velocity.


Next, we pass an actual Eagle One! This has become a thing in which Velocity pilots do a heroic pose looking off to the side (Eagle One Left, Eagle One Right) while taking a picture after arriving somewhere in a Velocity. I took a young scout on a Young Eagle flight and his mom just sent me pictures - the scouts are now doing it too.


Next up, the homebuilders HQ, where I pick up my 9th mug for flying my homebuilt into the show. I have a whole shelf of these now.


We walk out to uncover and clean the plane and run into Kurt Winker. He has brought his teenage son, Reeve, on his first trip to Oshkosh.We had a great time with both of them.

Kurt and Reeve
Kurt introduces Reeve to our tradition.This kid fits right in.


After that, a whole gang heads over to Runway 27 to watch and critique the landings. This has become a traditional Sunday activity for the Velocity folks. It is chaotic and entertaining to watch this many pilots try to land in such an intense setting. 

Elizabeth in landing position

Kurt shows Reeve the ropes

Nancy checking out the landings

Dad and Lad

Melissa Lorenz joins us

Melissa and Elizabeth model Oshkosh hats

Brett looks supremely comfortable

Scott Swing - "There I was..."

Garrett scans for traffic (to make fun of)

Reiff and Melissa Lorenz


Monday at the show was just about perfect. We had cool, dry weather with a light breeze and a few puffy clouds just for decoration. Here are some shots from around the field.

Nancy details the plane.
Even the bottom. Impressive.

Our parking spot.

3 Velocities with a bazillion RV's in the background

The annual picture at the arch with the whole crew.

The Honda Jet

Rutan's Proteus does a fly by

B17 with escort

B17 flies over

Our own air show from the plane

Exactlly how I felt all day!

After the show, we cleaned up back at the dorm and then a big group of Velocity buddies met for dinner at Mahoneys, only a short walk from the dorm. This is one of our favorite places. We had a great meal and a great time catching up.

Brett finds his favorite food group

Reiff and his cheese curds- a must in Wisconsin

With my buddies, the Ferrells

Jerry and Linda Brainard

Garret presents....Kathryn!

The V sign from Reeve, Kurt and Elizabeth. She looks oddly nervous.

The whole dinner gang

Melissa and I are very hungry

When in Wisconsin- Walleye. Delish.

Same for Elizabeth.

Jerry and Linda with plates licked clean.

The gang hits the road for our next stop - Kelly's Bar.

Our long suffering waitress, Jessie

After the show, dinner at Mahoney's and refreshments at Kelly's, we retire to the common room at our dorm. Every night we bring snacks, drinks and music and have a great time swapping stories for a couple of hours before bedtime.

Rene' shares a story while Brett enjoys his favorite story time snack- "cheesy poofs".

Garret relaxing... into ... unconsciousness. It was a long day.


Tuesday morning was awesome, even cooler than Monday. We even had to wear jackets in the morning. This pretty much pegged my cheer meter. 

Nancy bundled up as we have breakfast al fresco at the show.

Cool weather, early start at Oshkosh, I am very happy.

Brett and Elizabeth stroll in to join us.

The main drag after breakfast. Folks just starting to roll in.

Actual Blue Origin spaceship. It's been there and back.

Tim Dave's ship.

Rene's turbine Legend

Nancy and I at the arch.

Berkut in aggressor paint scheme. It was uber cool.

More to come tomorrow of our week at Oshkosh......