Airventure 2000 (Page 2)

Unfortunately, the trip across NE and IA was ahead of a very slow moving cold front, ensuring low overcast and scattered rain for a couple of days.  At about 0800, Frank and I cranked up the planes while a short shower dumped rain on us. 

Boredom Fighters inbound to OSH over the Iowa countryside. 
We headed out towards OSH on the low and slow route, dodging and not-dodging showers along the way.  1:45 minutes later were at Ripon and inbound to Fisk.  Winds were 180 at about 14.  Unfortunately, Frank’s radio chose a bad time to act up and he was directed to runway 27.  Not wanting to follow suit, I promptly told the controller I could understand him just fine and requested 18.  Not a problem.  Turn to 100 degrees, contact tower and join downwind for 18 Left.  I was able to land, taxi to the RFA parking and tie down, 10 minutes before Frank was able to even enter the RFA area.  

Luckily the weather enroute to OSH was very pleasant, however somewhat hot.  That is until I hit the mid-west.  OSH continued the cool trend with showers on and off.  At least it kept the dust down!  

Sunday was the target day to leave OSH.  With IFR conditions early in the morning, engine start was delayed until about 9:30 AM.  The cold front that effected OSH for the last four days was slowly making its’ way across the East.  I was going west, so the nasty weather was not an issue. Like me, another several hundred pilots also decided to depart at the same time.  From engine start to actual departure, the wait was one hour.  Departing runway 36 with a right downwind departure, and continuing south 5 miles, I was then able to make a right turn to 270 to get on my way. 

N264JP and Frank Baldwin's N70FB, an Oshkosh regular....

The Wisconsin countryside is pretty green this time of year and I was able to see most of it from 500’ AGL for the first hour.   Running into inbound traffic was not my first priority. First stop was Decorah, IA airport where I ran into two guys in Grumman Tigers.  They were trying to head east by making a run to the west.  They sure were picking the long way around. 

After another two hours I stopped at LeMars, IA for another 8 gallons of gas where I noted the scourge of the Iowa bugs.  Every forward-facing surface of the BF was covered with black bugs!  Sunday was a day off for the attendant, so I had to literally interrupt his golf game.  He apparently had someone else come out and pump the gas.  I proceeded to then depart and made my way though western Iowa, skirting the southeast tip of South Dakota, and pressed on into Nebraska.  I chose the northern Nebraska route this time and made the day’s final stop at O’Neil, population 4,000.  I found that these smaller airports were always a pleasant place to stop.  Always friendly, had coffee ready, and usually a courtesy car to borrow.   

Day two found me just to the west of fog-induced IFR conditions, but O’Neil was unrestricted and calm.  After being beaten-up over Utah and Wyoming, calm cool air is always nice.  2:45 latter, I landed at Chadron, NE.  A long leg, and previously consumed coffee were finally taking their toll.  As the BF settled from a nice wheel landing, a gust from the right side decided to push the tail around somewhat and the result was a scraped left wingtip.  No damage other than some missing fabric and minor wood damage.  The attendant fueled 12 gallons of gas and was kind enough to lend me a roll of duct tape.  Instant repairs then off again.  I wouldn't say I really needed USAF--issue speed tape, but duct tape sure did the trick. By this time though, the slab back-seat cushion was beginning to take effect.  My lower back was feeling the pain.   

Another two hours and I was out over Wyoming, this time stopping in Casper, located in central WY.  Also, by this time, the much-reported western wildfires were beginning to sprout and I saw first-hand results.  Visibility for the last 20 miles into Casper was down to about 10 miles.  Very low for that part of the country.  From here to the end of the trip, NOTAM restrictions for fire fighting were consistently in my route.  That's the last thing I needed,  being run over by a C-130 doing a fire bombing run!

The next leg was planned and flown from Casper direct to Rock Springs, WY.  If one takes a look at a map, one notices absolutely nothing about this part of WY.  I’m serious, there’s absolutely nothing through this leg.  No roads, lakes, trees, significant mountains, ect.  

Nothing but a couple of alkali ponds and wellheads.  For 185 miles there was absolutely nothing out there.  This was serious dead reckoning.  I figured out that if I went in the right direction, at least I was going to hit the I-80 within 2 hours.  This plan worked out well as I did intercept the I-80 within a mile or so of plan.  Then into Rock Springs just in front of a P-51 and a King Air.  Not bad company. 


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