Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oshkosh Part 1 - Trikefest

It was the year of my 50th birthday and all I wanted to do was go to Oshkosh for  a week. Elijah and I had planned on flying the whole way starting out in Borger Texas. I was going to trailer over to his home field of Borger and we would fly from there.

We had a chart of 14 stops. I called every field manager to verify that we could camp in the RV at each field. The wives would be driving the RV and meet us each night at a scheduled field. This was going to be a flight to remember.

Elijah had some heart problems and went into the hospital to have a stent inserted. He found out that there was a 70% blockage in another artery as well. He and his wife decided that flying all that way could be hazardous and that another year might be a better choice for such a long flight. He still wanted to go and take his trike and even offered to run ground support for me flying solo. We finally decided on stuffing both trikes into his toy hauler and driving to the event.

Now the most interesting thing about Oshkosh for a triker does not even occur in Wisconsin. Just outside of Newark Illinois is a turf strip called Cushing Field. The weekend before Air Venture is known as Trikefest and since Cushing Field is unofficially known as the center of the triking galaxy, why would you not want to stop there?
On final approach to 0C8 Cushing Field

So we drove to Newark and set up our camp towards the far end of the strip thinking it might be a little quieter down there. With the size of the crowd there, it really didn't matter where we parked, we soon found out.

On the drive up to Newark, we were telling the wives that the flight from Cushing field to Oshkosh was only 150 miles and could be flown in 3 hours on one tank of gas. We would probably stop at one of the 12 airports that we would be flying past and could rest awhile. This way we could still be able to fly into Oshkosh.

It worked. They accepted the new plan. Elijah and I were still going to be able to fly our trikes into Oshkosh. Hooray!
A farmer's maze south of Cushing Field

During the trip I sent posts to the New Mexico Trikers group as often as I could detailing our adventure.
Tue Jul 20, Missouri
Elijah and I made it halfway to Trikefest.
The long days on the road and finding somewhere to camp overnight was not as tiring as it would have seemed, because like a couple little boys, we were eager with anticipation at getting to live out a dream of ours. On the way to Newark, Illinois, we stopped in Cuba Missouri for lunch. Janie’s daughter recommended Missouri Hick’s BBQ. So we stopped. We were so full but just had to try their cobblers. We thought for $2.99 w/ice cream, that it was probably about 1 cup of cobbler with a very small scoop of ice cream. Boy were we wrong, try about 2 cups of cobbler topped with 1 cup of ice cream. Well, we rolled out of the place and hit the road. Driving on a very full stomach is not a good thing; all you want
to do is take a nap. Oh, by the way, we stopped there on the way home too! Best BBQ we’ve ever eaten, and this time we planned for the cobbler and ice cream!

The first that I had to do when I got to Cushing was get my propeller installed. While I was moving the trike around the week before we left, I clipped the tip of one blade on a post and broke off a tiny portion of the leading edge. I called Warp Drive and we arranged that I would ship the prop to them, they would repair the damage and ship it to the Airborne dealer at Cushing Field. I could pick it up from them and be back in business. So my whole first day at Cushing was spent waiting for the UPS driver to show up. Elijah got some airtime in his trike while I waited.
Looking out under my wing at the activities near the main hangar

The humidity was stifling and as I walked the field talking to pilots from all over the US and Canada, I began to wonder if we were going to get to fly with all the rain that had been and was continuing to fall. Sure enough my prop showed up, the sun came out, and Becky and I jumped in the trike for a tour of Illinois.
Sat Jul 24, Trikefest at Cushing Airfield, Newark, Illinois
A gust front came through yesterday afternoon and blew 60mph for about 30 minutes. I had my trike tied down with 4 ground anchors and had 7 people holding it in a driving horizontal rain. Elijah did not have anyone around to help him hold his trike and it lifted him off the ground and flung him into the back of his camper. He is bruised pretty badly. His seat frame and mast brace are broken and the wing keel, king post, and some battens are toast. Several tents were destroyed in the wind. A Rossi trike had its control bar and mast brace split in two but held together because both tubes had cable inserts in them. All the port-a-potties were blown over. It was a wild ride for a while there. Shane Duncan from Airborne Australia has been working on everyone's trikes, tweaking and tuning wings. Jim Leon from The Ultralight Place gave a seminar on Rotax repair. He asked who had the Hirth out front and when I answered, he started picking on me. Several other trikers came to my defense. The Revo showed up in a trailer and while he unloaded the trike a crowd formed and from a distance it looked like a bunch of little boys crowding around an ice cream truck. I have never seen so many trike CFI's gathered in one place before. I have to get dressed and go fly. I’ll write more when I can.
We had fun at Trikefest and even thought Elijah had a broken trike, we were now  listening to the reports from Air Venture to plan our trip up there. The field was closed. Nothing was being permitted to land there. All flights were being diverted to other fields. Only select war birds were being allowed in. Camp scholler was closed too. They were now calling it swamp scholler.
Sun Jul 25 – 6:27am
Trikefest had a huge turnout. I have never seen so many trikes in the air at one time. After the 60 mph gust front came through here Friday night and flipped Elijah's trike, they put mine in a hangar with 14 others. Around the corner was a hangar with 7 more. I think there are 5 hangars here stuffed with trikes.
With nowhere for the girls to park the RV at camp scholler and no other campgrounds available we debated what to do. The origional plan of us flying into Oshkosh and then walking over to Scholler to set up the RV was now not going to work. We had driven 1700 miles to get this close to Oshkosh we might as well drive the rest of the way. Maybe some field on the way would let us camp there and fly in and out. The girls could take a car back and forth.

Sun Jul 25 – 8:34 pm
We found a place about 6 miles north of Oshkosh to stay for the event. It is a campground that has a turf strip. 51WI is the identifier. They call it Gallinger. We can fly into and out of Air venture on a daily basis from there. There are RV's everywhere. EAA is parking them on every empty parking lot they can find. Chicago got 12 feet of flooding in some areas and had to evacuate certain areas. The show starts tomorrow and they are not allowing any planes to land there. There might not be much to see besides the vendors. We will call the field tomorrow and listen to the atis to see if they open it up. I might be able to fly into the ultralight field even if the main field is closed. We had smooth as glass air last night and this evening. Another pilot with us said that he did not think it was smooth glass, more like etched glass than smooth glass. Still, it was pretty good flying. Here is hoping the field is open to aircraft tomorrow. It would suck to have come all this way and not get to fly onto the field. I have lots of pictures from Trikefest but no way to post them. I'll do that when we get back.
 Luck struck when Becky found Gallinger as she was scouring the web looking for a place to stay. What are the odds of finding a turf strip airport with an attached RV park just outside the class D airspace of Oshkosh?  They had a cancellation at the last minute due to the rains and we scarfed it up.

 One other thing to mention about Trikefest. Janie had never flown in a trike and was scared to. I tried to talk her into going up with me and she kept saying no. Then all of a sudden I look over and see her strapped in the back seat of Keith Brown's trike ready to take off.  Oh well at least she got to experience the joy of sport flying.
Janie's first flight
Next up Air Venture.

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