Oshkosh, here we come!
(Dances little jig) :-)
I made an entry here a few days ago musing about the possibility of getting a few local pilots (or aviation enthusiasts) together to share the cost of driving to Oshkosh for the annual EAA Airventure...or "Oshkosh" as it's best known.
I've got a van, I enjoy camping (Which is about all that's left accomodation-wise now, without booking 2 years in advance) and it seemed like my best bet to finally get myself to this iconic aviation expo.
My wife was good with the plan, and I thought I'd start the ball rolling with my post. I've since unpublished said post...why?
Shortly after I published it I received a comment to my post from Paul Tomblin who asked me if I'd be interested in flying there with him.
My immediate response was "Wow, I'd love to, but I just can't afford it".
Yes, I had always dreamed of making the trip to Oshkosh "The way it should be done" - on a set of wings. However, my licence doesn't allow me to fly as PIC in the USA, nor is my experience anywhere close to the level that I would feel comfortable setting out on such a trip myself, even if my ticket allowed me to do so.
And of course, there's the money. With the planes I fly on a rental basis, there's so much to take into consideration that makes it unrealistic - Actual hobbs hours (And alot of them, at 90 Knots), minimum rental hours (3 per day minimum every "full day" the plane is gone, regardless of it it moves or not), and then of course fuel, etc etc etc.
That, and the fact that my FBO wouldn't rent me a plane for this trip even if I had bottomless pockets and the best laid plans.
Again, back to experience.
Driving was the only feasable way I figured I was going to get to Oshkosh, so it's the immediate avenue I steered towards.
However, I exchanged a few emails with Paul over the next hour or two, and it became evident that the chance for me to fly into Oshkosh as his flying companion, instead of driving, was now obtainable.
I was almost speechless - it's a good thing I was typing, otherwise I may have found myself short for words. That never happens to me - anyone who reads my blog or has chatted with me on the phone can attest to the fact that I'm quite verbal.
I can't express how excited I am about this. Oshkosh itself is an event I've always wanted to visit. Ironically, as part of my job, I've been to the city of Oshkosh before, but never during AirVenture, so I've always longingly looked at the city in my mirrors as I passed through, hoping to one day be able to actually come during the big show.
Of course, as Paul mentioned in another followup email yesterday, the weather could play havok with our goal, especially when one is flying this sort of distance...but hey, that's OK.. I'll take it as it comes, and my schedule will be wide open for the entire week.
Yes, the actual show was originally my intended centerpiece of the trip - the drive there in a car was simply a stepping stone to make that happen.
However, flying there versus driving opens up an entirely new (and amazing) experience in itself. I'm now looking forward to the trip there and back as much as the destination. What more could one ask for?
The plane that Paul has booked for the trip? A stunning Piper Dakota.
I was checking out the Rochester Flying Club's website tonight to checkout N8323Y, which is the plane that Paul advises he has reserved for the trip. It looks like it's a great aircraft. He mentioned it's due for a new panel mount GPS installation, as well as a new engine over the next few months.
With a 76 Gallon fuel capacity and useful load of 1200 Pounds, weight should not be an issue, even considering all of the gear that will be hitchiking along with us. This will be a refreshing change from the usual W&B challenges I have been having recently flying the 152's around, aside from the fact that it's just exponentially a much nicer aircraft versus anything I've flow in to date.
So, only one problem now.
5 Months, 1 Week, and 2 Days. The time untill the gates swing open in Oshkosh. :-)
BTW, I'm looking for a right-seat passenger for this Sunday at 9AM after a potential passenger (Co-worker) bailed out on me today. Anyone local interested in an hour of sightseeing? If the weather holds, I'm thinking about breakfast in Peterborough? Email me!