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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Oshkosh 2018

Loaded and ready to launch

This has been a hard year in many respects, including the plane, work and family. The plane was down for months while we did a major upgrade of the avionics. Nancy's Dad got sick and  passed away over the summer and we had to deal with the illness and then sorting out his affairs. Work has been just unrelenting. On top of all of that, we have had just ridiculously bad weather.

As a result, we flew less this year than we ever have in prior years. I also got behind on this blog for the first time. My friend Brett brought to my attention today just how long it has been since I've updated it, so goes.

Even Oshkosh this year was a challenge. We have been going since the 80's and have flown in our plane 10 times. Over the years we have taken off before dawn, left late, dodged storms, gone over the lake, around the lake and almost to Iowa to dodge storms. This year topped them all.

As the weekend before the show approached, the forecast looked absolutely terrible, with rain forecast every day from Friday through Monday. We have left on Saturday and even Friday before to beat weather, but this year, it looked like our choice was either to leave extra early on Thursday for the Monday show or wait until the weather had (hopefully) cleared mid-show on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I was just not willing to miss any of the show, so we left on Thursday morning. The plan was a fuel stop outside Gary, Indiana, then over the lake into Oshkosh.


I have been asked about the baggage capacity of the Velocity. It is incredible. We loaded up our Highlander SUV with 4 people and all this stuff and the Velocity carried it.

A word of caution. This is operating at gross weight and means you can't expect the incredible takeoff and climb performance you are used to. You have to plan for a longer takeoff roll and shallower climb. Pick an airport with a longer runway and no obstructions at the departure end. Once you are in cruise, you won't notice any difference.


This year the crew was me, Nancy, our son Sean and my friend Garrett. Here we are programming the nav system and ready to taxi for departure.


Video of our takeoff from Chester County Airport near Philadelphia for Oshkosh. We have four full sized people, full fuel and 100 pounds of bags, so the roll is long and the climb out shallow.


On our way, here are some shots as we head westbound.

Nice clear skies to the west as we climb on course

Crossing the Susquehanna

Farm fields to the horizon

Beautiful skies to the north

Video of the screens and outside as we start our cruise westbound.


Here is a screen shot of the flight plan on the Ipad on my lap.


Nancy and Sean in the back

A view of the screens as we cruise along

Close up of the main screens

The new nav unit, a Garmin GTN 650 touch screen
Nancy's glass panel - Candy Crush

We check the Iphones en route. Sometimes we get signal even at cruise altitude. This allows us to communicate by text message with friends who are awaiting our arrival.  Here's a screen shot of our back and forth with the Ferrells as we zoomed across Ohio.


We found out that Griffith- Merriville had a good restaurant on the field and decided to stop there for fuel and lunch before our final leg to Oshkosh. Here's a video of the landing.


On the ground and ready for lunch.


Steve and Susan Cabiroy flew in from Virginia and met us for the last leg. Here they are behind us as we taxi out for takeoff.


The leg from our lunch stop to Oshkosh was more exciting than I would have liked. The idea was to form up with the Cabiroys, fly over Gary with flight following, then up the coast through the Chicago VFR corridor to get some photos, then on to Oshkosh.

I added full fuel at the stop, the temperature increased while we were there and a brisk crosswind developed. This all added up to a verrrrry scary takeoff over tall trees at the end of the runway, followed by an equally anemic initial rate of climb. However, Gary approach cleared us on course directly over the airport and up the coast.
Gary and the coast in sight on climb out

Headed out over the airport

The lake shore comes into view

Here are some shots of our Chicago lake shore fly by. Brett was following us on Flightaware and captured some cool screen shots.

Cockpit view of downtown as we cruise up the lake
That's Cabiroy's plane ahead of us

That's us- below building height in Chicago

Hello Chicago!

Right over Navy Pier
Cabiroys off our wing as we turn inland for Oshkosh

Flightaware screen shot as we pass Chicago

Here's a video of Cabiroys off our wing as we pass Chicago.


As we head out on our final inland leg for Oshkosh, the map is filled with traffic targets and a huge weather system is bearing down on Oshkosh. We set up for high cruise and scream toward Oshkosh at over 200 mph at less than 3,000 feet. We easily outrun the other traffic. Love the Velocity!

Entering downwind leg

Flightaware screen shot of our final leg

Finally, Oshkosh comes into view. The special arrival procedures don't even start until Friday morning, so we contact the tower and are cleared into downwind for runway 18. We are doing 200 knots, so we chop and drop to enter the pattern.

Oshkosh comes into view above the canard


Here's a video of our landing at Oshkosh.


We turn off for the long taxi to Velocity parking.

Waiting for a Cub at the intersection

Passing the tower at show center

Cockpit view as we turn onto Velocity Row

Someone actually got a screen shot from the webcam that captures our arrival.


Tied down at Airventure 2018!

N929X crew

We are met by our favorite line guy. He has greeted us and seen us off for departure every year for years.


Yes! I am in my favorite place again.


The Cabiroys and Irions arrive within minutes of us. We hop in the welcome wagon and get a ride with Irions to the dorms.

Loretta and Nancy

Steve and Susan Cabiroy's first flight to OSH

This van may be over gross.


We arrive at the dorms just ahead of the bad weather. It is fine here but there is weather in every direction. This becomes a theme for the next few days. It is not bad at Oshkosh, but the surrounding weather walls the place off from further arrivals. I'm already glad we left so early to beat this.


After we settle in to our dorm room, we meet up with the other early birds at Mahoney's restaurant, one of our favorite places. It is only a short walk from the dorms.

We flash the Velocity V sign to celebrate our first Oshkosh meal together

Nancy and Sean show off the Mahoney sized portions

On Friday, we wake up to rain and cold. No way we could have flown in today.

We sleep in, then head over to the cafeteria at the Blackhawk Commons in the dorms. They are not yet open for Airventure but we talk our way in and even get a super cheap student price for breakfast.

We hung out at the dorm for a while, then checked out the Chinese place across the street for lunch. The place is basic, but the food is tasty, cheap and the portions are HUGE.

After lunch, we took the city bus from the dorm into town to watch a movie, then to the grocery store to pick up $3.00 pillows and snacks.


The whole day was gloomy, but we managed to have a fun time. By the time Thursday night rolled around, we all gathered back at Mahoney's for dinner. By this time, more of our friends had arrived, including the Brainards, Reiff and Melissa Lorenz, Tim and Lurabeth Rodenbaugh,  John Youngblood and Trystan Clark. We had a terrific time catching up.

Garret and Nancy duel with wine menus

The Velocity table. What a great bunch of friends.

Reiff's snazzy Velocity credit card

Tom Iron sings us into dinner

Nancy and Garret

John and Trystan

Jerry and Linda Brainard

Garret goes for the walleye. It's Wisconsin after all.

Garret and Sean


Saturday ends up cloudy and rainy again. We managed to get some time on the field and check out the plane. Again, I'm glad I didn't wait. Usually, things are beginning to fill up by now. We can picture the backlog of pilots all over the country waiting for a break in the weather. We are happy to be here.


Sunday arrives and there is finally some decent weather. As a result, there was complete pandemonium on the arrival procedure. It was totally overwhelmed with the volume of traffic. Pilots were spending hours in holding patterns dodging heavy traffic. Again, glad we are already here.


Sunday was the first day we could stay on the field all day. It was loads of fun as our friends arrived one after the other and pulled up on Velocity Row.

With Nancy and Sean at the arch
Reiff and Melissa
Garret and Kathryn

Artsy shot of a DC3

Sean in his spot reading a book under the wing

Another Velocity arrives


The weather got better throughout the day on Sunday.

Nancy walks through the now full Velocity Row

Crazy turbine test bed pulls into the square

Linda races the heat with a giant OSH ice cream

Too soon it was the end of the day and we headed out to the buses

Sunday night we hit another favorite spot for dinner, the Fox River Brewery.

Garret and Kathryn

Brett and Rene'

The Ferrells

Elizabeth gets her Wisconsin fish fix


Finally, it's Monday morning and the show officially opens. The weather is just perfect, so we got an early start.

Brett shares in the photo documentation process
Elizabeth joins us for breakfast at Sacred Heart outside the gate

Traditional winglet approach on the walk to the entrance

Turning final at the main entrance!

In the show as the gang approaches Velocity Row

Group winglet final approach

On Velocity Row, we uncover the plane and wipe off the dew. Others are doing the same and are happy to start our week at the show.

Melissa wiping down "The Fox" N44VF

Tom and Loretta Irion neaten up their champion FG

Another funny fixture- Brett's sunscreening process

The obligatory shot of Nancy exiting a PortaPot. I've got 20 years of them.

After getting settled in, we take our first pass through the exhibit buildings and the Fly Mart. If it is remotely related to aviation, you can find it. This is lots of fun.

Dream tool box. Wish I had this when I was building the plane.

This logo just cracked me up

Sean admires a catchy door mat

Signs of every description

Garret with Kathryn's new shirt

Putting our swag back in the plane

Back in line for the bus to the dorm


After the show, we head out to another nice dinner with Garret, Kathryn and the Ferrells at a place down by the river.

Admiring the high end art work

Brett and Elizabeth

Sean ready for food

Much happier with a massive Wisconsin sized plate of goodness

Garret and Kathryn

After dinner, we stop for supplies, then it's time for our nightly party in the common room at the dorm.

Brett admires his favorite- genius pretzel buns

Nancy has skills

Garret and Kathryn in post show mode

Nancy relaxes with a plastic cup of Chardonnay
Just don't wake Kathryn


Tuesday was just glorious with perfect weather and tons of friends. We spent a lot of the day just hanging out by the plane. Here are just a few of the many pictures I took.

View up Velocity Row as we arrive
Uncovering and wiping down the plane

Irions getting their plane ready for the day

Sean on his phone under the wing
Tom Irion

Steve Cabiroy opens up their plane. It's his first time flying in with his Velocity.

Hanging out on the row.

The fuel truck wanders by - a lucky break for me.

Camp Irion

With Sean and Nancy at the food court for lunch

Joined by Brett and Elizabeth Ferrell

Garret- Here comes the mirror man

With friends at our plane

I ran into buddy Al Nugent at the exhibit building
Nancy and Sean in front of the B1 bomber

The gatling gun on the A10

WWII bomber over our winglet

Velocity buddies stop by for a visit

Watching the air show from the plane

Brett, Kathryn and Kurt's son Reeve at our plane

Velocity Row

Group shot at N929X

My friend Chris Cleaver tries the plane on for size

The Velocity sign

Reeve stops by

Nancy and Kathryn holding court behind the plane

Garret in relax mode under the wing

Our friends the Kufalks stop by


Hanging in the shade

Watching the air show from our plane

Camp N929X


After the show, we have to stop by Kelly's Bar to see our friend and favorite waitress, Jessie. 

Garret gives Kathryn a ride


Every night our group gets together in the dorm's common room for games and conversation. It is a nightly tradition at this point.

Playing Lorenz's Canards Against Humanity game

Ferrell's game involves trying to talk through big fake lips this.

Only these two could be cold

Rene' checks his cards 
I have some good options
Melissa, Kathryn and Garret

Brett and the cheezy poofs deserve a section of their own. It's an Oshkosh thing.

"Gonna need another tub of these"

Orange satisfaction

Wednesday is a perfect weather day. We head out to the exhibit buildings after opening up the plane.

Our buddy Kurt Winker just completed a long career as an air traffic controller. We saw these signs and couldn't resist.


"Hail, oh exalted controller"

 Elizabeth finds a winglet

Here are a few more random shots from Wednesday.

More friends at the plane

Andy Millin and friend flew in for the day

Add caption

Andy Millin and Bill Mulroney- "There I was...."
Me on the photo tower
Everyone stops for the national anthem. It's impressive.

Our first Velocity Group photo on Velocity Row- "Eagle One Right"

Duane Swing loaned me the Velocity company's ladder  for the group shot. As long as I had a ladder, I figured I'd try some shots of Velocity Row from that perspective. They turned out pretty well.

Duane poses in front of the Velocity display
Our plane - N929X

Victor Fox - N44VF

The Cabiroys give the Velocity  sign

The awesome VTwin


Way too soon, it's the end of our last full day at the show
Headed out.

Wednesday night is always the Velocity dinner. We held it at the SOS Brothers a/k/a The Beer Moon.

We had a huge group and a lot of fun. Here are a few pictures.

Panorama with our organizer, Reiff Lorenz. Thanks Reiff!

Beer muscles

Riley, Bonnie and Dwayne Swing

 Thursday morning we load up the plane for departure. The weather at Oshkosh is great, but there is a big storm system blocking the middle of our route. We have onboard weather and decided to see if we could make our way around it.

Here are some shots of the departure.

Pulling out onto the taxiway

View back toward the show
Passing the air show team

Nice shot

View of the tower


Here is a video of our departure from Oshkosh.


Here is a ground view of the departure taken by our friend, Al Nugent. Thanks Al!

We landed in Port Clinton for lunch at the Tin Goose Diner, our usual stop. Here's a video of the departure.

*Stay tuned. More to come of the rest of the trip.....