Friday, August 8, 2014

July 25th: Oshkosh Bound!

It was finally time for one of the trips I'd been looking forward to for a while: Oshkosh! My buddy Dave and I were going to fly my C172 out to EAA's AirVenture, hopefully camp with the plane, and have fun at one of the biggest airshows in the world. Dave is one of my best flying buddies; when he retired a few years ago he moved down to North Carolina, so I don't get to see him very often anymore. I was looking forward to hanging out with him again!

I was supposed to work the night before we left but I'd thrown my sleep schedule off and was feeling off so I called in sick. That made for a fun surprise for Dave when he pulled up to my house that night, since he'd expected me to be at work! We caught up for a while, walked down the street for some dinner, then spent the rest of the night packing up the rest of our stuff and going over some options for the next day's flight.

We woke up Friday to gorgeous weather - thank goodness! Our goal for the day was to get as far as possible, hopefully at least out to northern Illinois. I said goodbye to Mark and the dogs, then Dave and I headed to the airport, loaded and fueled the plane, and we were off.

This was somewhere over West Virginia. The first leg had the highest terrain, and we wound up bouncing between 4500' and 4800' to stay clear of the clouds and the ridges. 

Our first stop was CDI: Cambridge, Ohio. It was really tricky to find - I didn't see the airport until we were basically in the pattern! The people here were really nice, and the guy who helped us fuel was over 80 years old. You'd never know it...I hope I look (and move) that good when I'm that old! The weather looked good for our next leg, so after saying goodbye we were back in the air.

The scenery in Ohio is very exciting. Miles and miles of farm fields with little squares of trees and the occasional farmhouse.   :)

Our next stop was HHG: Huntingdon, Indiana. The people (and the airport dog, a boxer named Piper) were very friendly, and it was the cheapest fuel of the trip - only $5.37 per gallon! (For comparison, HWY just jumped up to $6.00 per gallon. Flying's not cheap!) We ran into a father and son flying a Bonanza out to Oshkosh, too...we actually wound up running into them later in the week at Oshkosh!

We had hoped to pick up a Chicago sectional here, but they didn't have them in stock. A quick phone call later we were on our way to...

...RCR: Fulton County, Indiana. It was only 35 miles away but they had Chicago sectionals, so we made a quick stop to buy the chart and were back in the air. It was either here or at HHG (I can't remember) that we saw a coyote run across the runway as we were taxiing in.

The clouds were a bit lower on the next leg but we still had good visibility. At one point we flew over the Chicagoland Speedway. It looked like there was one lone car zipping around the track.

We were due for a fuel stop so we decided on an old favorite...DKB: DeKalb, Illinois. Dave and I stopped here the first time we went to Oshkosh and the people were really nice (and even hangared the plane when we had to leave it for the week). This is left downwind for runway 20. There was a C208 doing pattern work when we came in; turns out there's some sort of skydiving plane business and the ramp was full of Skyvans. Neat!

Dave and I refueled and checked the weather. The ceilings had come down and while we still had enough daylight to continue on, the thought of flying to Wisconsin at pattern altitude (after we'd already flown over 6 hours that day) didn't seem too appealing. The guy at the FBO offered us a free crew car for the night and a crew rate at a nearby hotel, which clinched it. We decided to spend the night, then leave first thing in the morning for Oshkosh.

The hotel was really nice (I think it was a Country Inn and Suites), and there was a good restaurant right next door, so Dave and I checked in and grabbed dinner, then called it an early night and went back to our rooms. Hopefully we'd be spending the next night in our tents next to the plane!

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