I arrived early in the afternoon on Saturday. The actual show didn’t begin until Monday. However, for most of those who were camping with me in the Homebuilt Camping area it was all about fellowship and camaraderie. One other person from my home airport and EAA chapter travelled to Oshkosh and was providentially parked right across from me and just a few rows up. He greeted me as I set up camp. Another man I didn’t know, nor did we even introduce ourselves came and helped me set up my tent. Another man told me where to find ice and water, another split the ice and the cost with me. It’s all about the people and the airplanes in Homebuilt Camping.
I spent the remaining portion of Saturday cleaning the bugs off my plane and sitting in the shade under the wing of my airplane. It was amazingly hot and humid for Wisconsin. Everyone was sweltering but evening brought some much needed relief in the form of a thunderstorm. It wasn’t as big as was forecast but it was enough to cool things down a bit. We were warned of another thunderstorm to come later in the night but I figured I’d be asleep by then. I was asleep when the storm rolled in but not for long.
I woke up to the sound of my tent rustling in the wind. I looked at my phone and noted the time as being 3:30am. The breeze felt good but was getting stronger. My tent started shaking, then shaking harder, then it laid down completely flat on me. I hoped my home-made tie-downs would hold the plane in this wind. Mercifully the wind died down, apparently that was just the gust front, then the rain started. It came down pretty heavy but now that the wind had stopped my tent was standing on it’s own and keeping the rain off me. After about an hour the rain died down and I was back asleep.
I slept in late on Sunday, this was a new experience for me. I crawled out of my tent about 9am and fixed up some freeze-dried granola and strawberries for breakfast. After which I took a walk over to the kit plane displays to see if I could find any of the Rans folks. They weren’t there yet so I walked through the warbird area up to the edge of the runway to engage in one of the favorite pastimes at Oshkosh: watching the airplanes land.
I unslung the folding chair from my back and had a seat. Planes were only landing at a rate of about 1 per minute which is really slow for Oshkosh. There were about 100 other people there watching the landings and everyone was commenting on how light the traffic was. (We didn’t know at the time that though the weather was nice in Oshkosh, it was ringed round with severe thunderstorms.) Most of the landings were good, some where exceptionally good. There are colored circles painted on the runway. The tower will ask you to land at or beyond a specific color. There were several pilots who nailed their circle on the runway. The entertainment came from those who could not land on their circle. One landing in particular was harrowing. A Beech Bonanza was approaching to land. He was very close to the runway, and very low as he was turning from base to final. His turn went wide and he tried to kick it around with rudder when he started to stall at maybe 100 feet up. He acted quickly and rolled out of the turn and proceed to pancake the plane down in the runup area. He hit hard and we saw his tail pop up in the air. We all assumed he was done but he was not. About a minute later we saw him taxiing past us. The propeller was making a funny noise and there was a large dent in his right flap. After he taxied past us about 5 cars with flashing lights went past in hot pursuit of the pilot. Apparently they had not cleared him to taxi.
I decided that there wouldn’t be a more entertaining landing than that so I decided to pack it in. I headed back to my campsite to fix another MRE for lunch; chicken and dumpings, apples in cinnamon sauce, soda crackers and blackberry jam, and a mocha “dessert bar” (whatever that is.) I chased all that down with a Pepsi Throwback from the ice shack and then sat back to enjoy the rest of my day. A couple of hours later my friend from Oakdale, Mike Terpstra showed up. We decided to head into town to have dinner. We boarded the South 40 bus which took us around the huge general aviation camping area called the South 40. It dropped us off by a gate which got us outside the airport fence. We walked about 2 blocks to the Target shopping center and spotted Asian Buffet. All you can eat Chinese food sounded great to both of us. It was cool and dry inside and we ate until we were stuffed. Afterwards we walked back to the airport, got on the bus, and made our way back to camp. As soon as it was dark I crawled into my tent and fell asleep happy with all that I had accomplished that day.
Monday was the first “real” day of the airshow. It seemed like airplanes had multiplied in the camping area overnight. There were more people on the field and all the exhibiters were open and ready for questions. I wander around and looked at the oudoor exhibits until the indoor exhibit halls opened at 9am. Then I made my way quickly through the first and second hall. My plane is already done so I really don’t need anything. It’s just fun to look. In the second hall I ran across a gentleman I know from the Backcountrypilot.org forum I belong to, he sells a product called EZ-Flap. I spent about 30 minutes talking to him and trying to help him sell. I moved on through the other halls and outdoor exhibits looking for American Air Campers but I never could locate them. As I was formulating my afternoon plan of action I heard someone say “Are you Scott Van Artsdalen?” It was a gentleman sitting at a picnic table with a friend. It turned out to be none other than Doug Reeves of Van’s Air Force fame. We had a nice conversation about my Rans and how he had been following my build. He invited me to lunch with him and a couple of the guys from Van’s Aircraft. I can’t remember their names but they’ve been with the company for a long time. Nice guys full of lots of entertaining stories about homebuilders. I kind of miss the RV guys sometimes.
After lunch I attended a seminar on ForeFlight HD. A product that runs on an iPad and displays your aircraft’s position on aeronautical charts. I picked up a few good tips there and then headed back to camp to take a shower and relax under the wing of my plane. Then I overheard that sever weather was moving into Oshkosh on Wednesday and wasn’t forecast to move on until Friday. I had plans for leaving on Thursday but If I stuck to that schedule I would be stuck in Oshkosh longer than I wanted. I decided that I would have to go ahead and leave on Tuesday. I would miss some things at the show that I really wanted to see but there were other people I really wanted to see as well. So I spent the rest of the afternoon packing the plane and generally getting ready to depart the next morning.
Part 3 coming in a few days