- Across the Pond – Seattle to Oshkosh and beyond by Paul Riley
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With the sad event at Shoreham Air-show fresh in our minds members will be distressed that an activity that we love has caused such devastation in the lives of so many people.
To support people and communities affected a fund has been set up by West Sussex County Council and Adur & Worthing Councils in conjunction with Sussex Community Foundation, a charity which raises funds for and makes grants to local charities and community groups across Sussex. If you feel inclined to contribute, the fundraising page can be found at: www.justgiving.com/sussexgiving
Our thoughts also go out to the family of Andy Hill, the pilot of the Hunter, who is an LAA member and RV builder/owner/flyer. He has built an RV-8 which he has used in air displays ( http://www.rv8tors.com ) and has just completed an RV-3 (Van’s original single seat a/c). We hope for his speedy recovery.
Across the Pond – Seattle to Oshkosh and beyond
When I took a Job Secondment to be based in Seattle with Boeing I drew up a bucket list of things I wanted to do. Some aviation some not aviation but wanted to make sure I made the most of my time. One item on the list was to fly to OshKosh. My first year here was just too busy but this year I could see a gap in the work schedule. As events transpired I need to relocate to Boeing’s other 787 Dreamliner production facility in September so I combined the OSH trip then onto South Carolina. The following is my journey…
I spent a long time planning the journey, based on advice from others I wanted to keep my journeys to the mornings where possible as Middle America gets bumpier and windier as the day goes on. Good Advice. I also wanted to enjoy the journey so wanted to maximise each destination and possible strike off some other items on the bucket list. The plan had some slack in it and the weather in Seattle on the planned departure was marginal so we rolled to the next day
Day 1 – Paine Field, Everett WA to Blackfoot ID
Taking off from Paine Field is a beautiful place on the coast but this morning we had a little morning sea fog but this moved away and allowed a clear flight over the Cascades and Mount Rainer (left). These mountains rise to 10,000ft so no cloud from the marine layer and smooth conditions are needed. This day was perfect and we made good work on heading to the SE corner of Washington State. Martin was my first stop as it’s a Mogas airfield, a common plan on the route where possible. The next stop was into Idaho at a small town called Payette. This airfield again had Mogas and is surrounded by a golf course. The club house made a good place to grab a bit to eat which was at the far end of the runway. Our final leg took us over high ground to allow us to get to the flat ground in southern Idaho. Climbing over this ground was a balancing act to get enough height, staying below the CB’s that were forming and not overheating the engine. After a 50 miles of fighting the balance we were clear then it was a long leg to Blackfoot, ID. Blackfoot was a lovely airfield that was busy with a couple of crop dusters and within minutes of parking at the pumps someone came over and offered us everything we could ever want. They let us use the airfield car overnight at no charge, helped us get tied down. After 700 miles of flying it I was shattered and needed to recover ready for the next.
Day 2 – Blackfoot ID to West Yellowstone MT
An early start it was north-west about 100 miles for this fight. With rain falling we thought the plan might change but the clouds were high so we set off. West Yellowstone is the closest airstrip to Yellowstone national park. It is just 3 miles from the park entrance. The airfield is also the highest I have landed, at 6644ft so pressure density is a consideration but as it has a runway suitable for commercial aircraft so it not a worry. The FBO at the airfield was amazing, they arranged a rental car for us, and found us a motel in the peak season. I uplifted 3 gallons of fuel and the total bill including parking came to $24. 5 stars for Yellowstone Aviation. That afternoon we set off to visit the things we had heard about including some fabulous geysers and Old Faithful (Right).
Day 3 – Yellowstone National Park
We made the most of the hire car the next day and drove both of the circular routes. Around every corner was another change of this amazing natural wonder. If you have never been you really should it is just the most beautiful but strangely weird place to see.
Day 4 – West Yellowstone MT to Thermopolis WY
The next day was about a choices… As the weather was fair we choose the fly the shorter, challenging route. After having an EGT problem which I quickly sorted we got out of Yellowstone. We firstly flew across the park to get some great pictures of the Grand Prismatic Spring (below). We continued across the park and over the Rockies. It was a fairly short section but the mountains were over 12,000ft so we picked a route in that had a road below. This was some of the most challenging flying I have ever done, trying to keep the aircraft straight and level with the mountain currents pulling us everywhere. With that over and able to breathe again we headed South-East to the small town of Thermopolis in Wyoming. The airfield is on the edge of town which is home to the world’s largest hot springs. The airport again offered us a courtesy car which took us to one of the springs owned by Wyoming State and is required to allow free access. We obviously obliged and enjoyed relaxing away from the strains of the past few days. We also heard from the spring manager that just up the hill there was a herd of Bison (Right). After a short drive we found these wonderful animals grazing. Such a thrill to see these wild beasts close up. After another busy day it was time to rest.
Day 5 – Thermopolis WY to Aberdeen SD
This was another ‘bucket list’ day. Leaving Thermopolis early to beat the front coming in we headed direct for Rapid City, now our 5th state on the trip. About 30 miles from KRAP we routed firstly pass Cray Horse monument. This is a long term folly where someone wants to reshape a mountain. Go look online. Then about 10 miles away we did a fly pass of Mount Rushmore (Left). As you approach the local air traffic controller briefs you of the altitude and distance limits but it was great to see, although it looks much bigger on TV. After a quick fuel stop and a chat with a Brit flying to OSH from San Francisco it was off to Aberdeen SD. Nothing really important here but a nice airfield with some good hotels nearby making it an easy night-stop. The flight was interesting due to us having the Dynon telling me I had a 65 knot tailwind at certain points (I thought it had an error) and this actually translated from a TAS of 95 knots and a ground speed of 145 Knots (Rght). I don’t think I have ever had a 50 knot boost like that. Landing was interesting with a 30 knot crosswind in my little RV12.
Day 6 – Aberdeen SD to OshKosh WI
We got out early to make the most of some calmer weather but on walkaround we had another problem. The rudder has a big crease across it. It seems that when the FBO towed it into the hangar the strong wind forced the udder across to hit the stop so hard that the rudder skin creased. After straightening it out as best as possible and then checked to make sure it had no restriction, all was good so off we headed with a job to add to the next annual. We headed off in the search for more Mogas. Our first stop was Waseca MN, but neither us nor the airport the other pilots could make the MOGAs pump work so it was back to the 100LL. We then headed off to our staging point for Oshkosh the small airport of Portage WI. We had planned to stay locally overnight but after a fair tailwind and a rocky landing we decided to grab a break, fuel up and then head for ‘The Big one’
After one more read of the 32 page NOTAM and a cack of the ATIS we headed off. We got ourselves set up early for the arrival and found an aircraft ahead to follow, it was a Taylorcraft that struggled to cruise along at the required 90 knots so it was slow going. As we got our landing clearance we were sent off on separate approaches and we got the one with the crosswind. Those who haven’t seen the OSH arrival you get allocated a coloured spot on the runway to hit. We were given the middle ‘Yellow’ One’ and with us trying to keep our speed on and the winds were gusting 20 knots we sailed on past the yellow and landed just before the pink dot. It wasn’t pretty but we were down and were able to taxi to our home for the week. Happy days J
I will cover the show at another time so it was on with the journey…
Day 7 – OshKosh WI to Xenia OH
The rest of the journey was about getting to the end goal of Charleston. After a good check of the aircraft (so many people could have done anything) we got a short taxi and were quickly routing away. Our first stop was Poplar Grove which is about 50 miles west of Chicago. The airfield had that sort of old world feel with Biplanes around and about a 100 house aviation community / airpark. If only we could have this in England! Topped off with Mogas next was Anderson ID, for a Mogas Stop then a short hop to Xenia (A good addition to the Alphabet Logbook). Xenia is the closest airfield to Dayton OH. Noteworthy as the home of the Wright Brothers and the home of the USAF and its museum. Both were on the plans but as we arrived later than expected and crossed a time zone we arrived too late so it was off to the hotel.
Day 8 – Xenia OH to Charleston SC
Today was another longish day and it was a hazy start and low cloud base but we headed out to see. After some interesting weather and some growing CB’s we found a gap and made it on top of the inversion layer. Our first stop was a mountain strip in North Virginia called Mountain Empire (Left). While a pretty airstrip, reminiscent of some on the UK it was closed with the terminal / fuel farm not opening for until after lunch. I guess the airport manager is at church! So looking at the map we headed out to another airfield only 25 miles away. After avoiding the radio controlled aircraft using the afield around me landing we filled up at which point I had a ‘blowback’ and covered myself with fuel. 100LL in the eyes was not fun! Our final leg involved more cloud and thunderstorm dodging but after 2:30hrs we had Charleston in our sights (Right) and the Atlantic ocean in the distance.
After 8 days of flying, over 2,600 miles in 26 Hours and crossing 15 states we have made it across the continent. The plane performed well even at max take-off weight with only a slight issue on the EGT which we easily resolved. It was a great experience with the aircraft safely delivered.
Below is an overview of the route.
Video Recommended by Members
Recommended by Tony Palmer. The views of the beautiful centre of Budapest are breathtaking – as are the attitudes towards ‘elf ‘n safety. I guess we won’t see the like of that here.
Here’s another video to ‘enjoy’. Flying doesn’t come much simpler than this – no aeroplane!
And finally, if you have been following the story of the Jodel that was trapped after it made a precautionary landing at Plymouth Airport, currently in the hands of a rotten property development company, this video sums up the situation (with a few Flyer Forum in-jokes). Recommended by Steve Hutt.
Latest update on the situation here: http://www.lightaircraftassociation.co.uk/2015/News/jodel.html The Jodel will be freed!
A useful maintenance aid
Quarter share in Fournier RF5, based Ringmer, for sale
LAA EASA Permit. £7500, £65/month, £35/hour. Contact Mike Millar 07789 568867 or m.millar+AT+tiscali.co.uk [Replace the +AT+ with an @ – for the avoidance of spam].
Main event to note is the LAA Fly-In at Goodwood on Saturday 3rd of October. We need volunteers for marshalling on the day. Please email Tony Palmer or me (Richard Griffiths) to get your name down on the list.
For the latest list of events, go to the Events page on the Strut website.
Please suggest/volunteer to organize some more. 🙂