Once again, I am planning my yearly trek to Oshkosh WI for EAA AirVenture. After the 15 hour drive last year I decided that if I was going at all I would fly even if it was solo.
This year will also be a bit different for me as this is my first time attending an event as an official member of the “media”. My friend and fellow flying club member Steven Pope of Flying Magazine introduced me to the head of EAA media relations last year. He explained the process I would need to follow to be considered for a press pass. After filling out the required paperwork they evaluated my website and granted me my media credentials back in March.
A few weeks ago I booked an airplane and started calling fellow flying club members that had expressed interest in flying to Oshkosh. Steve P. called me back and let me know that he would like to fly there but he needed to be at Oshkosh by Sunday 7/22 as he had to work. I checked the schedule and found that the aircraft wouldn’t be available in time so he decided to get out there via other means and fly home with me on the following Sunday 7/29.
Lately, I have been a bit worried about the aircraft. The turn coordinator needs to be replaced (so I can fly IFR) along with a faulty push to talk switch on the pilot side (just broke). That was until I just received the good news from our Flying Club Maintenance Officer. He will do everything in his power to make sure our aircraft is ready for my trip to Oshkosh! I thanked him (and his assistant MO) for the help and promised to bring something back for them.
The aircraft I am flying is our clubs Cessna 172n Super-Hawk (a Cessna 172n with the Penn Yan 180 HP upgrade STC). The STC provides slightly improved cruse speed and an increase in useful load. She is also equipped with a 406ELT and a Garmin GNS 430W (yup it has WAAS) but no autopilot. This wasn’t my first choice but it was the only airplane available during that week. Overall not a bad compromise.
Initial flight planning: (KMMU > KOSH)
To cross, or not to cross: That is the question.
I started running some preliminary numbers last night and figured that it would cost me 2 additional hours to fly around Lake Michigan vs. crossing the Lake (IFR routing around Chicago would most likely keep me well west of the class bravo during AirVenture) so I plotted my new course and ordered an inflatable life vest (needed to do that anyway). I also arranged to borrow a personal locator beacon from my friend Frank (my original Oshkosh buddy).
Aircraft performance numbers:
So far, I have used standard Cessna 172n performance numbers since I do not have recent real life numbers that I can rely on since I haven’t flown this airplane on a cross country in years.
At this point the plan looks like this:
As mentioned before, I will fly out solo and will be flying home with Steven P.
Total flying time for the flight out is around 7.5 hours using historical winds. I plan on stopping twice and spending about an hour on the ground at each stop, so depending on weather; I may fly leg 1 Sunday evening to get a jump on things. If not, I will need to be wheels up by 05:00am on Monday morning to make it to OSH before the Airshow (at 14:30 CST).
Route of flight:
Leg 1 KMMU > KYNG (Fuel stop)
Morristown NJ to Youngstown OH
IFR routing: KMMU ELIOT ETX V30 PSB CIP KYNG
Route Distance: 285nm
ETE: 03:03 (with historical winds)
Leg 2 KYNG > KMKG (Fuel stop)
Youngstown OH to Muskegon MI
IFR routing: KYNG HIRES CRL GRR KMKG
Route Distance: 272nm
ETE: 2:56 (with historical winds)
Leg 3 KMKG > KOSH (No Fuel)
Muskegon MI to Oshkosh WI
IFR Routing: MKG V510 FAH
Route Distance: 129nm (will probably be routed to intercept V510)
ETE: 1:26 (with historical winds)
A note about the Oshkosh arrival:
The plan is to fly IFR into Oshkosh. This is almost like flying into a major hub like LaGuardia KLGA during rush hour. You have to obtain a slot reservation and confirm the slot no later then 12 hours in advance. The trick is, you have to have your ETA within +/-15 minutes. That’s one of the reasons I am flight planning with standard 172 numbers. If I arrive at my final stop (KMKG) early I can always call up and adjust my ETA or even just hang out for a while before launching for my final leg.
One thing I learned from when Frank and I did this two years ago is that even though this is an IFR arrival don’t treat it as such. We were on the RNAV 27 on about 1 mile final and cleared to land when this Twin Cessna appeared off of our right wing without warning from the controllers. We were soon instructed to land BEHIND the Twin. He passed us on ¼ mile final, and Frank did a great job of landing a very heavy Cirrus SR22 in formation with the Twin! Frank was silent during the entire event but I could hear the quiver in his voice after we cleared the runway
Well, needless to say, I hope my arrival is a little less “memorable” but I will be prepared for it just incase.
Will you be at Oshkosh this year? Do you have an Oshkosh story? Post your comment below.
After landing I plan on camping on the north 40 for the week so If any of you want to hang out send me a message (Twitter / Comment below or email me)
mike at 110knots.com.