“Rock your Wings“, “Hi, Welcome to Oshkosh” and “Easy-Up, Easy-Down” was the series of stories that described our first annual trip to Airventure in Oshkosh Wisconsin in 2006. This story is about our seventh and latest trip, in 2012!
This time, we were lucky with the weather on the days that we were flying, but not so lucky on some of the days that we were at the show, as we were challenged by heat and thunderstorms. I wish they would move Airventure to mid September!
Since we always camp at the North 40 and we like to get a good camping spot (i.e. close to the show and to the showers), we planned to arrive no later than the Friday – a full three days before the show opened. The weather cooperated and we departed from Oshawa on the morning of Friday July 20th. It was my turn to fly. With a slight tailwind, we arrived early at Saginaw, where we cleared customs and grabbed a free hot dog before donning our lifejackets for the flight across Lake Michigan (the ceiling was unlimited, so we planned to overfly the lake to save 1½ hours of airtime).
Since I flew into Oshkosh last year, this was Jeff’s leg, (my turn again next year!!). As we approached Ripon (the town over which the aircraft are supposed to set themselves up, properly spaced, we saw two other aircraft that were going to arrive at Ripon at the same time as us, so we broke off, circled and joined the queue behind them.
As we approached Fisk, the controllers told us to follow the railroad tracks and switch to tower frequency. The tower controller cleared us to land on the numbers, runway 9, which is more or less straight in. He then cleared another airplane to land, but we didn’t see who that was until we were on a long right-slant final, and we saw a Ford Tri-motor on a tight left base, which put us head-to-head. The Ford driver spoke up first “Uh…tower, there’s a Cessna…” The controller’s response was “Cessna, follow the Ford, cleared to land on the threshold” Jeff maneuvered us behind the Ford and I got out the camera.
When I tell non-aviation people that we camp under the wing of our airplane, they are amazed! It sounds so romantic. And it is, even when there are 1,000 other airplanes and tents on the field.
We bought a new tent for this year, as the zipper on our old tent was damaged in a storm at Oshkosh last year. It was very easy to put up and was just the right size. Then we contacted our friend in Oshkosh who rents us bikes every year and he brought us our bikes. We were all set for the week!
We were looking forward to staying dry this year, as we had carefully chosen a tent that we were convinced would hold up better to the weather than our last two tents did. The new tent was called a “Coleman Weather-Tec”. For the first five days we did stay dry, and we were confident that we had chosen well.
On Thursday, I was having lunch with some Canadian and U.S. Ninety-Nines when a violent thunderstorm hit. After the worst of it was over, my friend Mireille and I headed back to the North 40. While we were on the tram, we saw: an airplane flipped over, a huge sign knocked down and some porta-potties on their sides. Yikes! I commented to Mireille that I hoped my new “Coleman Weather-Tec” would still be standing.
It was flat – and everything inside our tent was soaked. There were dozens of flat tents in the North 40. I later leaned that our friends Victoria and Bob (newlyweds!) had their tent completely destroyed. They had to borrow a tent for the rest of their stay.
Fortunately, Jeff was able to unbend the poles without breaking them and we got the tent back up. Then, the sun came out, so we took everything out of the tent and hung it up to dry and by early evening, everything, including our sleeping bags, was dry! We were back in business and ready to enjoy the rest of the week.
Ninety-Nines Award of Inspiration presentation
The Ninety-Nines Award of Inspiration is presented annually by the Board of Directors of The Ninety-Nines. This year’s recipient is my friend, Mireille Goyer, of the British Columbia Coast Chapter, West Canada Section. Mireille won the award for her dedication for introducing girls and women to flying worldwide. Since she was not able to travel to Providence for the International Convention, Susan Larson presented the award to Mireille at the breakfast at the Ninety-Nines tent at Airventure on Thursday July 26. Congratulations, Mireille!
One of the great things about Airventure is the partying. Every year, as I get involved in different organizations, I have more opportunities for free partying, such as:
- BBQ lunch hosted by Mike Martin of the Buttonville Flying Club
- Young Eagles Awards dinner
- Canadian EAA ice cream social
- Ninety-Nines breakfast
- Women of Aviation Worldwide luncheon
- Friday night International Visitors Party
Well, actually, Airventure is one continuous airshow. Alarm clocks are not needed at the North 40. As soon as the airport opens at 6:00 a.m., the airplanes start taking off. There’s nothing like a radial engine to wake you up and get you pumped for a day of aviation immersion. The formal airshow doesn’t start until later in the day, but all day long, there are interesting airplanes to see, both on the ground and in the air.
My favourites this year were the Tora, Tora, Tora warbirds airshows on the Friday and Saturday and the night airshow on the Saturday night. All three airshows included a ‘wall of fire’. The Saturday night airshow was capped off by a spectacular fireworks display. It was worth staying for the entire week, just to see the night airshow!
Only 49 weeks to go until Airventure 2013!