I landed safely at portage, had a great dinner and a good night of sleep. I got up in the morning, got a weather brief from DUATS and then walked down to the plane. I was so excited and nervous I could not eat breakfast.
I spent a good hour reviewing the NOTAM the night before and I had a good plan on getting to Airventure. I looked at the sectional several times and tried to get a good idea of the location of the two checkpoints. As both of these points are GPS fixes it did make it pretty easy to find them. The actual locations of the fixes on the ground however are a different story. More on that later. My first flight in was on Thursday and I wanted to get in early in the morning to have the least stressful landing experience. I had experience flying int sun-n-fun in Lakeland FL and I knew that early was better than late. I did a good walk around inspection of the plane as I didn’t want yet another incident. I topped off the fuel, started the plane ran all the pre-flight checks, programmed the GPS with the route and launched off into the air.
The route from Portage to Airventure was pretty simple. Take off and fly northeast towards RIPON, which also happens to be the name of the town where the fix is located, join the gaggle of aircraft headed to FISKE and plan a landing at OSH. I knew from reading the NOTAM that I needed to be at 1800 feet and 90 knots. Getting to that speed in a Comanche takes a subtle hand. Finding RIPON was really easy as it is a big town and the GPS fix is almost right in the middle so there is little chance of confusing this point. FISKE is a different story. When I reached RIPON I had a bit of trouble finding the railroad tracks. They are not really visible from the air as there are trees grown on both sides of the track that obscure them from sight. Once I figured out that the line of trees was the railroad tracks it made the navigation easier.
Note, that a straight line via GPS from RIPON to FISKE will not take you over the tracks you have to navigate visually as the tracks are slightly south of the direct route between the two fixes. I must admit I never really located FISKE visually on the ground I just watched my GPS and listened carefully for the arrival crew to call out my aircraft. They called me something like a Cherokee low wing so I had to guess that they meant me. I added the ATC audio to the video so that you hear what I heard. I had some fun with the folks at FISKE and I found the chaos at OSH a bit frightening. The tower folks seemed a bit stressed out. This is a long video and it would not hurt my feelings if you skip ahead to the really good bits.
Flight from Portage to Oshkosh
Landing at Oshkosh is really no pressure. Only hundreds of other pilots watching and critiquing your every move as you try to hit the dot on the runway and turn left into the grass before another aircraft climbs up your tail. I did a pretty good job of landing on the orange dot and I think my landing way pretty good. Some young smart-ass pilots were standing beside the flight line with scoreboards letting us know how they thought we did on the landing. I was pleased to see that I got three 8s and one 9s. Due to the age of my Comanche I was entitled to park in the Vintage parking are, which was right next to runway 18/36 and the daily air show. After landing I had to taxi quite a ways but it was very much worth it. I was able to lay under the wing of my plane and watch the air show in shaded comfort.
Describing the sights and sounds of Airventure is difficult. Airplanes, people and something to see in every direction. One of my favorite things to do was walk around the vendor hangars. Any company that has anything remotely to do with aircraft was there in these enormous hangars selling their wares.
There was every kind of product a pilot could ever imagine. Oh sure all the big names were there selling radios and GPS units. What I really enjoyed were some of the quirky vendors selling cooling scarfs, memory foam seat cushions and miniature replicas of every sort of model of aircraft. I did end up buying a few trinkets and a couple of spare parts for my bird but nothing all that spectacular. That magneto repair at St. Louis ate up all my spending money. After a wonderful day, which concluded with a spectacular airshow, I was able to easily depart OSH. I posted a few pics on my Facebook page and a friend who lives in the area saw the post. She invited me to dinner with her family. So I departed OSH, flew south until clear of the airspace , then turned east and headed to New Holstein.
The flight was pretty coming across the lake, over the wind turbines and landing in the grass at the airfield.
Departing from Oshkosh and flying to New Holstein I had a wonderful dinner and gabbed with old friends. What a great evening. Sorry, but I forgot to turn on the camera for the night flight from New Holstein back to portage. I will just say the sky was dark and beautiful all the way back. Best night of sleep I had in a while. Must have been all that fresh Wisconsin air. Stay tuned for part 4!