Airventure 2014 - Oshkosh, WI

The 2014 edition of EAA Airventure would be shared with good friend Tom Houseknecht. I'd asked Tom to go with me several times and finally his wife Anne told him he need to do it. Tom and I shared a glider for several years, but this would be the first long cross country and camping adventure together for us. Tom is a great outdoorsman and brought along all the goodies for comfortable camp life.

We got off to a great start with clear skys early on Friday. The Tripacer was loaded with gear for the week and enough fuel to get to our first stop.

There were still some patches of left over morning fog along the route like here near Clearfield, PA. The visability was fantastic and the air was smooth. It dosen't get much better than this!

After refueling just east of Akron, OH, we flew over the Goodyear blimp hangar. This is a really big building. As we continued on to Valpariso, IN, our next fuel stop, we started to encounter clouds and some rain. The ceilings dropped and the wind picked up. We were able to skirt around Chicago and get to our overnight stop at Brodhead, WI.

The Pietenpol reunion at Brodhead has become a regular stop on my Oshkosh trips. Tom and I got there in time for the Friday night fish boil which was awesome. We set up camp and got a good nights sleep. After breakfast Saturday morning we toured the hangars.

Brodhead has about 50 hangars, each with interesting aircraft and projects. The paint job was amazing on this biplane. There are a lot of antique and vintage aircraft at Brodhead. We even got to see a Bleriot fly.

One of the hangar is full of Flying Fleas of every size. I really like the folding wings.

After lunch in Saturday we broke camp and took off for Oshkosh. The fully load Tripacer used a lot of the grassy runway to get airbourne. On the flight north the ceilings were a little low and the wind was a little high. Soon we were approaching the Oshkosh waypoint at Ripon, then on to Fisk where we were directed to runway 27. It was fairly busy with airplanes landing in front of and behind us, but all went smoothly. After we landed we were motioned into a nice parking/camping spot only 3 spots from the main runway. It was a great spot for watching the daily airshows, but a long walk to the showers.

The brown arch is an annual photo must!

As we were setting up camp I got a call from Bob and Tina Hyduke who had come in the day before. They were walking through the vintage aircraft camping and were only 2 rows away at the time. Bob and Tina are Airventure veterans and we always enjoy patrolling the grounds together.

2014 was an anniversary year for the Breezy. There were a bunch being displayed and this one on floats was my favorite. It actually uses a ships wheel for control.

A couple of years back I drove to Airventure with John Flohr. John always had to stop at the Ultralight barn in the morning for a fresh doughnut. I passed the tradition on to Tom.

I had recently read "A Flight of Passage" by Rinker Buck. It details the cross country adventure that he and his brother, both teenagers, took in an old Piper back in the 60's. The aircraft behind me is their old Piper that has now been restored.

We were invited to join friends from Clearfiend, PA for dinner. They had driven to Airventure and were camping as a group. The food and fellowship were great, in spite of a sudden down pour. Near their camp site was this amazing converted fire truck. It has an elevator to the second floor and a fireplace. Cool!

I always like to get over to the seaplane base for breakfast one morning while at Airventure. It is really beautiful and peaceful compared to the pace back at the main airport.

Evening entertainment included Kenny Loggins on Monday, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Friday. During the week I presented two forums on painting aircraft with latex paint. Both had a good turnout with lots of good questions. The afternoon and night airshows were fun to watch. The USAF Thunderbirds performed for the first time ever at Airventure on Friday and were very impressive.

I think I found the solution to getting more lift out of the Tripacer wing. Balloons!

After watching the weather we decided to head out first thing Saturday morning. We had been using the moving map software on the iPad with GPS to navigate on the way out. This makes flying very easy. However, the iPad threw a fit right as we took off from Oshkosh and quit working. We flew south along Lake Winnebago working on plan B. Using VORs and pilotage we continued south towards the busy Chicago airspace. After we collect our thoughts we realized that my iPhone had street maps that would show us where we were, and then Tom remembered that his iPhone actually had an aircraft navigation app. It worked great and got us in to Valpariso, IN where we got the iPad working again.

We knew that we might have weather issues as we continued east, and the weather radar app showed storms ahead. As we got to Wadsworth we caught up with the weather and had to land and spend the night. The folks at Wadsworth were great and offered up a courtesy car for the night. It first appeared that we might not get a hotel due to the Firestore golf tournament, but eventually we found a cheap motel room which worked out fine. The next day started with fog, then rain and low ceilings. It looked for a while that we might have to spend another day in Ohio, but after lunch it got a little better and we started working our way home, going airport to airport, ready to land if we didn't like what we saw.

The further east we went the better it got, but we did have to divert to the south to avoid a big storm that was sinking down from I-80. Once we got past Ford City, PA we were able to make a dash for our home airport at Bellefonte. Airventure 2014 was a fun week with good friends and some challenging flying. Already planning next year.