Airventure 2012 - Oshkosh, WI

The EAAs Airventure fly in at Oshkosh is the largest aviation event in the world, and a must for the intrepid aviator. I had been planning the 1500 mile round trip from my home base at Bellefonte , PA (N96) for months. This would be the longest trip that I had made in the Little Titan Tornado by far. I had recently done quite a bit of work on the Rotax 503 that powers the Titan and was happy with the way it was performing.

While the Titan is a very small single seat airplane it does have a large cargo area. The picture below shows what I brought along (excluding the blue chair and laptop). This included clothes for 7 days, bath supplies, stool, 1.5 gallons of oil, water, snacks, charts, tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, cleaning supplies, and my Spot tracker. The Flight Out Once again, bad weather delayed my departure to an aviation event. My plan had been to leave on Friday and fly to the Pietenpol fly-in at Brodhead, WI, but clouds and rain kept me grounded all day. Saturday looked better so I got up early and headed for the airport. However, rain and low clouds prevailed. The Pietenpol event was ending on Saturday, so my plan was to flight straight to Oshkosh with stops on Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to refuel. In order to make the trip in daylight I would have to depart before 10 AM, which did not happen. It was after lunch when I got a text from two friends in a Cub that they were in route and that the weather was better further west. Encouraged, I took off. The biggest challenge was finding a spot to get across the high ground at Black Moshannon State Forest. Just west of the forest I flew over Philipsburg, PA where I saw friends Tom and Janet Pryde waving. I responded with a quick circle over their house and headed west.

One of my first check points was the dam at Curwinsville which can be seen in the distance in the picture above.

Continuing west under low cloud cover brought me to Punxatawney (no sign of Phil).

This hydro dam made a good checkpoint also.

Above is TriCity airport east of Akron, OH. This was my first planned stop for fuel after about 2 hours of flying. I had chosen this stop because they advertised self service credit card gas pumps, but I found out after arriving that you still need to find someone to come out and turn the credit card machine on! No big deal as there were people there that could help. So it was a quick fill up and back to the air.

I continued west, skirting south of Akron Class D air space, on the way to the next stop in Auburn, IN. As you can see in the picture above, the weather west of Akron was much nicer. This made for lots of great sight seeing across Ohio.

The Titan was cruising along at 90 MPH and all was right with the world! This leg of the journey ended at DeKalb Co airport in Auburn, IN.

Here is where the first warning signs occurred. I had not adjusted the times of my stops for my late departure from Bellefonte, and I found that the airport office had just closed for the day. Fortunately the woman that ran the office saw me land and reopened to sell me some gas. After a quick break I hopped in and fired up the engine. Trouble! The engine was only running on one cylinder. I had seen this before, but I thought that I had it fixed. I stopped the engine and changed spark plugs. This time it started and ran great. It was off to Joliett, IL.

Lots of things to see on the way across the midwest. The early evening sky was getting hazy.

Somewhere up ahead lies Joliett. This would be my stopping point for the day as I would not have enough daylight hours to make the final leg to Oshkosh.

Just outside Joliett I flew past the Chicago race track as they were preparing for the start of the NASCAR Truck race. I arrived at Joliett and found a tie down spot for the night.

As luck would have it there were still airport workers around, and the airport courtesy car was available. Beth had called ahead for me and found a room at a local hotel. After a quick bite to eat it was off to a good nights sleep. I was back at the airport early in the morning to return the car, refuel the Titan, and head for Oshkosh. More trouble however. After refueling the Titan would not run correctly. It started and idled fine, but would die if you advanced the throttle past half way. I changed plugs again, but no difference. Little by little people began to show up to try to help. Soon I was the main event on the airport. There were lots of suggestions. Lots of things tried. But no success. I remembered that our EAA chapter president, Ron Bownan and his wife Shelly were heading for Oshkosh in their motorhome. I thought that their schedule might put them close to Chicago so I gave them a call. As luck would have it they were only about an hour away, and they were willing to come and get me. Ron and Shelly spent several hours with me and others at the airport trying to get the little engine healthy, but to no avail. Finally we threw in the towel, jumped in the motorhome, and headed north to Oshkosh.


I stayed with Ron and Shelly for a couple of days at Oshkosh. While there I spoke with the Rotax dealers, and the Rotax factory reps about my problem. On their recommendation I bought new sparkplug caps and vent tubes for the carburetors. As always there are lots of things to see and do at Airventure.

I did run into a fellow Titan Tornado builder from MN. His uses a Jabiru engine and is about 300 lbs heavier than mine. It's a beautiful airplane!

Mass flyovers are part of the daily airshow.

The 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub saw about 200 of them make the migration to Oshkosh.

This airplane has even more zebra stripes that my Kolb did!

Hmm! Maybe this simple backpack paraglider is the way to go? OK, maybe not!

This beautiful Globe Swift was for sale. Just a little over my budget however.

Here are Ron and Shelly Bowman and Philip deFromont. I was relating this story to them about my flight out, and all of the interesting things that I had seen, and the great people I had met, and my engine problems, and investment strategies, and all of a sudden the heat must have gotten to them. My stories can be too much excitement for some people to handle.

On Wednesday I hopped a flight back to Joliett with Francois and Philip DeFromont. There we tried the new parts, but no luck. I continued back to PA with Francois and Philip. The next day I drove 10 hours to Joliett with a trailer, and drove back home with the Titan in tow on Friday.


The issue with the engine has been resolved. It was improper needles and jetting in the carburetors. The chart that I found online recommended 11K2 needles, but the CPS book recommended 8G2 (leaner) needles. Since switching to a smaller main jet and leaner needles the engine temperatures are much better, and the plugs are no longer black. Also, to avoid any future timing issues I have converted the engine from points to electronic ignition. The end result is that the engine runs better and actually has a little more power. I want to thank my many great friends for their help on my misadventures. Dave Dix for retrieving me from Wakefield, VA. Tom Pryde for helping retrieve the airplane from VA. Francois and Philip deFromont for bring me home from Oshkosh and helping at Joliet. Bob and Tina Hyduke for helping orchestrate my Oshkosh departure. The entire gang at Joliet airport who went out of their way to try to get me on my way. And especially Ron and Shelly Bowman who changed their travel plans to rescue me, house me, feed me, encourage me, and help try to resolve the problem.

Thank you all so much, Malcolm