Chapter 143 - July 2009

Oshkosh...third time is a charm, right?


And this time, flightfans, we took our charm with us. In our case, his name is Gavin and he is Rob's 4 year old son. Yup, we took a four year old in a private plane from Dallas to Oshkosh, blitzed the largest aviation show on the planet for a few days and zipped back. Now, to set the story correctly, you must know that Gav is an anything-mechanical-aholic. Planes, cars, helicopters, trucks...if it makes noise and goes then he is all about it. I can't wait to introduce this kid to projectile weapons but Rob said I have to wait until he is 6. Sheesh. At the last LeMons race I did, Rob and Gav flew down to check it out and Gavin was ALL about the noisy race cars! We figured Oshkosh would be right up his alley and we were proved quite correct. 

So before we dive into the pictures (we took over 4 gigs), or the videos or even the "ZOMG AN AIR SHOW EVERY DAY!" normal hum-drum that is Oshkosh, let's start with a few stories. 

Story #1: We're somewhere over a Midwestern state and listening to the poor zone controllers keeping our airways safe. Thankfully we were high above the general traffic and with Gav napping quietly in the back (still clutching model airplanes in each hand) Rob and I are sharing the silence for a moment. Rob begins pecking on one of the GPS units and I'm quietly watching the landscape far below slip towards the back of the speeding Mooney. An aircraft calls center and asks for a vector around some weather that he wants to avoid. The controller tells him that she can't see the weather and if he needs to deviate his course then to proceed. He tries to explain to her what the weather looks like and where it is and she asks him what heading he is going to fly. So he says again he wants to deviate and asks what heading to fly. The controller responds slowly and evenly "two-three-delta, I cannot tell you what heading to fly", to which our intrepid pilot asks, "well, what's my heading now?". Silence for about 5 seconds as everyone laughs and then "...moving right along, center this is four-two-two-papa requesting flight following" and the controller moved right along with it. For the next few days whenever we were confused what airplane row we were on, or what vendor aisle we were looking for one of us would chime up "well, what's my heading now?" 

Story #2: Sitting on the field in our chairs. Watching planes land. Listening to Tower direct the streams of planes to land. Tower is just spitting directions to planes who are not allowed to talk back unless dire emergency. If there is a pause, you know something is up. The controller is nicely and evenly spitting directions and then pauses for a good 3 seconds with an open mike so you just KNOW everyone's ears perk up for a 20 mile radius. Then he casually says "........Cessna on final, put your gear down....." and then went right back to rapid fire directions for other aircraft lining up. Classic. 

Story #3: At the end of the first day we get back to the hotel. Rob is on the phone to his wife and Gavin and I are looking at the stuff we brought back to the room. Catalogs, handouts, brochures, toys and souvenirs were scattered about the bed as Gav and I talked about the day and relived what, up to that point, was likely the most amazing day in his short life. Finally, Rob is winding down and says "Gavin, do you want to talk to your mom?", to which Gavin does not even take his eyes off the B17 model in his hand and asks incredulously, "why?". Rob and I about bust a gut laughing. 

Story #4: We go back to the field and we're sitting down eating something with the air traffic radio once again tuned in. Gavin has his several airplanes lined up in the grass in airshow formation (just ask him, he'll tell you) and we hear this guy (an idiot) call the tower. He states (thankfully very quickly) that he is trying to get in before the field closes (it closes several times a day for airshows and then at 8pm for the night) and he "is 4 out". Controller: "Is this the first time you called? At FOUR out?". Idiot: "no, I tried to call at 5 out first, but couldn't get through". I glanced over at the tower and could see steam coming from some of the upper windows. Controller, so slowly and evenly with so much anger in his voice you just knew he had 9 kids and they were all boys "That's why we tell you to call at 15 out so we don't end up in a mess like this......." and he leaves his mike open a few seconds after he is done talking before closing it and you just know he is UNhappy. Then, the words you REALLY don't want to hear "Say again your tail number". Yeah....that wasn't going to end well and they sent him back out to the end of the line.

Story #5: After the second FULL day of Oshkoshness, we head back to the hotel in the rental and Rob and I are discussing exit plans and how far to make the first hop depending on what time we can get out, what the winds are and how high we'll try to get clearance for vs winds aloft. I pull into the parking space and shut the engine down and sit back in the seat for a bit as we wrap up the discussion, both of us having clocked many MANY miles of walking and not particularly anxious to get out of the comfy rental car seats. The conversation ends and neither of us make a move to even open our doors, we are sadly two whipped pups. From the backseater comes an even toned: "c'mon guys, let me out now!". We laughed and complied.

Alright, there is more of the tale to tell, but let's get to some pics so you folks don't fall asleep reading my recount of the event. As usual, captions are below the image.

Our gear and intrepid backseater prior to launching early on the first morning of the journey. Yes, it all fit. Yes, under gross. Barely. Really. 

Rob had the awesome idea of hitting REI. A jogging stroller and some fold up chairs was perfect for this trip! 

Test load. Gav with our chairs and a rucksack bottom shelf on the stroller-thingy could carry all our wet weather gear.

And it all collapsed down to this in seconds. That's the stroller, wheels, two big chairs, one small chair. Awesome!!


This is quite literally one of the first pics I took. We got to the field the day before AIRVENTURE opened and cruised the AeroShell Square and as the bad weather that we barely beat into the area passed through, we were greeted with this nice rainbow. A few steps over, and I had it backgrounding the tower. Sweet. 


Hard to miss a bright yellow DC3. It flew a few times during the show. 

Completely restored. Perfect. 

Makes the think of the 'Mig Alley' every time...

If you could bottle that sound...


How many words describe perfection? I mean, really....

Fast mover left on day two and made some serious noise when he did....

Free showers every day!!!

The crew guys were saying this was the FIRST time a Predator had landed at a civilian field. 

We flew it again...for Gavin, of course. Rob and I endured it for the kid. It was tough, but we did it....The sacrifices we made for that child....   ;-)

Rob and Gav got the front row!

After the flight...

From the Tri-Motor. Everything brown on this side is military vehicles, everything on the other side is OSH (and that's only about a third of it!)!!


There is ALWAYS something in the sky...

Sometimes a LOT of somethings....

Again...bottle that sound please!

Bonus points if you can name the aircraft. 

Kelly Johnson....did he EVER make any crappy planes???

Love the faded paint and old markings...

Now...I've been around a few planes, but as far as clean active duty AF aircraft, this one took top honors. Spotless everywhere you could inspect. 


Next up is the B-17 flight. Yup, since last time we didn't get a flight due to mech issues, we FOR SURE did not want to miss it this year and booked early. The plane is "Aluminum Overcast" and folks, not that I need to tell you this, but if you get the chance to ride on it, GO. Yes, it is not cheap. No, you won't regret it. These are obviously getting more and more rare and to ride in one is amazing. 

In the briefing they tell you to not put anything through the hole unless you have a REAL firm grip on it. 

Oh just a SLICK shot and an awesome view.  

Gav chillin in a Fortress. 

These guys were slick and flew very well. 

That's OSH in the distance. VIDEO FROM THE NOSE OF THE B-17 IS HERE!!! 

We had been separated a bit, but I ran and grabbed Gav and got him back to the nose turret in time to put him in place and snap this pic with Rob's (much better than mine) camera. How often do you get a pic of your first AirVenture event in the nose of a B17 as it comes over the field? I got lucky and it turned out sweet!!

I took a break from watching for enemy fighters and smiled for the cam. 

Later that day I snapped this shot from OSH. Sweet. 

Yeah, the A380 showed up. Dang, that is ONE BIG FRAKKING aircraft. Did about 10 minutes of passes (which takes a while when you have to go to Canada to turn around) and then he landed. Well, not landed as much as PLANTED. While we couldn't see it as it was beyond a hump, we did indeed see the tire smoke and dust. 



Oh look, more airplanes!!

This was an incredible show. 

The smoke tells the story...

9. Count them. 9 Airflow direction vanes. I guess Airbus wanted a LOT of redundancy with their recent news stories.


Best pitot tube cover EVAR!!!!!

Heeeeyyyy, I have a trailer about like that. Wish I had that plane to go with it!!

I was feeling artsy.

The sound....oh my gosh, the sound....

A-26 front office.

White Knight Two showed up. Dang pimpy aircraft!!

This is the engine nacelle graphics on WK2. It reminded me of something that I couldn't quite place until we were on the trip home and it popped into my head as we were SCOOTING towards Texas. My dad brought me a book 'The Lore of Flight' when I was little. It was a huge book (426 pages) and I read it about elenty-billion times. It has the same logos and such throughout the book. Wonder if Burt read the same book I did...

Yeah, 234 mph ground speed. Rob's Mooney has airbrakes to slow it down since it won't slow down very well on it's own. Now, to me, any aircraft that needs speedbrakes is pretty darn cool in my book!! Sorry for the crappy phonecam pic.


A few shots of our happy camper!

An A380, a Lancaster, a biplane and assorted extras. Only at OSH!!

Another artsy shot that I am pleased wth.

This is what happens when no women go on a multi-day trip.


NEXT UP! Gavin really REALLY wanted to hold a camera, but Rob and I both had pretty nice cameras so a cheapie was procured and he happily snapped away. I'll share a few here...


Awesome event....more to come.