As we lifted off from the runway, looking out of the window a few hundred feet above the ground, the sight below was quite breathtaking, with aircraft, canopied tents, and people scattered around the airport. It was the busiest time of the year for the people of Oshkosh. I wished I had taken this flight in the middle of the week rather than the last day of Airventure 2009. The crowds were thinning as the end of the convention approached. Still, the sight was impressive from under the wings of the Ford Tri-Motor as we looped around Lake Winnebago over the Seaplane base and back again.
A year has gone by and it is that time of the year again, and the destination foremost in all pilots’ minds is Oshkosh, WI. The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual Fly-In Convention hosted each year in the last week of July is fast approaching. Year after year, aviation enthusiasts from all over the world return to Oshkosh to enjoy and share in one week of unfettered joy and celebration of aviation.
There are many ways to get to Oshkosh: flying, ride sharing, driving or commercial flight. Flying into Oshkosh airport (OSH) is an adventure in itself, and requires careful planning and preparation. The EAA website has a rich source of information to help plan your trip. Getting there is half the fun, where to stay is another important issue. Many easily accessible accommodations go quickly. Most people start planning at least six months to a year in advance. There are many choices for boarding such as dormitory style rooms, hotels, bed and breakfasts, renting a local house or room or camping. If you fly in you can camp near your aircraft. If you drive in or fly commercially, there is ample camping space available. If like me you are a last-minute planner, unable to commit well in advance for a week or weekend in Oshkosh, there is always room at Camp Scholler.
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1001, 1002, 1003… stop left turn and level off. Didn’t quite work as planned, I thought. I overshot again. Try one more time 1001, 1002. Stop right turn and level off. Almost there, just a little bit correction to the left this time. I wondered what the Center folk were thinking with my zigzagging attempts of flying along the airway.
“You need to watch the compass when your course matches and try to fly that heading,” suggested Michelle, “What are the compass rules?” she queried, as we racked our brains to remember all the nice acronyms that our instructors had rammed down our throats. “ANDS,” she remembered triumphantly. “Accelerate North, Decelerate South.” I interjected. “And of course UNOS, Undershoot North, Overshoot South”.
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After a fun evening and morning spent with family and friends, my copilot and I reconvened a little before noon at Republic Airport for the return trip back to the Mid Atlantic. Aircraft fueled and preflighted, we set off north this time. The plan was to circumvent the busy NY airspace around JFK and LGA airports from the northeast and fly down the Hudson River from the north heading south before flying back home.
The airwaves were quieter on Easter Sunday and the air smooth as we made our way south. There was not a cloud in sight but sadly haze still clung around the area preventing crisp, crystal clear photographs and videos. We flew southbound reporting all the check points along the way: Alpine Tower, GWB, Intrepid, Clock and Statue of Liberty. We descended lower to 800 ft as we practiced our turns about the point over the Statue of Liberty.
Tracing the eastern New Jersey shore past Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, Ocean City and Sea Isle City we landed at Cape May, the southern tip of New Jersey a little after 2:00 pm. Cape May Airport (KWWD) is a general aviation airport with 2 major runways.
Once a Naval Air Station, it is currently a civilian airport and houses the Aviation Museum in Hanger 1. The Flight Deck Diner is located in the main terminal building and open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to check the operating hours of the restaurant, after feeding the aircraft at the self serve fuel station, my copilot and I headed home, sans any veg(ham) burger. If you did get one at Cape May, drop me a line 🙂