Tuesday, July 28, 2015
There's enough posts about all the cool things to see at Oshkosh this year that I won't bother adding to the list.
Oshkosh, as it has been for a long time, is a social event for me. But, to be honest, I wasn't looking that forward to it this year. Some people I had hoped would be there weren't going this year. Some others who I've seen in the past, well, let's just say we've moved on.
Again this year I was making two runs over. This year, my youngest son, Patrick, and I headed over on Tuesday.
Patrick has thoughts of being a pilot someday but at the moment his priority is finishing up a four-year nursing degree program at Augsburg in Minneapolis.
Our flight in was relatively uneventful, save for the 172 that passed up high while we were following the NOTAM. I swear, I will never understand why people who are able to fly an airplane, are so utterly incapable of reading a document intended to help keep them alive.
We had a great time in the days we were there doing Oshkosh things and visiting people like Sam Weigel and his wife, Dawn, who were way out in Row 134 in the South 40. My pal, Warren Starkebaum, was out there one year and I think I'd like to be out there sometime. It's much quieter -- no helicopters every 4 minutes -- and you get a really good view of the approach to 36L. Sam, who won his category in the AirVenture cup race, has written a great post on his time at OSH.
We also had a nice evening with the great folks at EAA Radio, including the sampling of some cherry stout, I believe.
As usual, I enjoyed people stopping by to see the plane, even though we were stuck wayyyy up back in homebuilt camping. We met a great couple just before we departed. They were from Toronto and invited us to use their condo if we ever fly up for a baseball game. I wonder if I'll ever hear from them again?
I'm not too ashamed to say I spent a great deal of time examining polished airplanes up close. They look great far away but I needed to know whether my work is measuring up against other people.
Oh, sure, I found a few flaws.
I say this with all humility. It does. I saw some nice polish jobs, but it was clear to me that in striving for perfection -- I've never achieved it, of course -- I have set a good standard.
We left on Thursday morning because Patrick had to work that evening (and was departing for New York early on Friday) and Carolie and I had tickets for Caroline Smith and also Black Joe Lewis at the Minnesota Zoo.
Want to hear some great cockpit resource management? Here's my kid.
On the way home, Patrick said, "I wonder how high those clouds are?"
"Let's go find out," I said.
Have I mentioned how much I love my RV? You can be at Oshkosh for breakfast, fly home for lunch, do laundry and take a shower in the afternoon, have dinner and a concert, and be back in the air the next morning, headed for Oshkosh.
On Friday, my oldest son, Sean, and I headed back. As luck would have it, my builder pal, Warren, was passing overhead at the time, so we flew over "together", several miles apart and chatting all the way.
Sean wasn't all that sure he wanted to stay until Sunday (which is code for "he didn't want to") but once we landed, he was all in.
This time we were given 18R. I haven't flown that approach in the five times I've landed at Oshkosh but for some reason it struck me as trickier.
I used to watch people make this approach and marvel at the rapid descent, tight turn, and spot landing ability they had. Unfortunately, when I made the rapid descent, tight turn, and landed spot on, the GoPro was out of batteries. But trust me: It was great.
Fortunately, my RV pal, Brad Benson and the rest of the South St. Paul RV crew had arrived the night before and we were able to hook up for good socializing.
The highlight was going to the Charcoal Pit restaurant where Sean sang some karaoke. The Collins clan is not known for singing voices and certainly not for singing in public. But there was my kid, singing before strangers ("People Are Strange" - Doors). The B-52 is cool. The Raptor is cool. Even stumbling across the Little River Band was cool. But seeing my kid stepping out of a comfort zone? That was coolest.
The only downside of Oshkosh this year were the sad exhibit halls, where so much consolidation has taken place, that the empty spots are being taken up by crappy flea market peddlers - a LOT of flea market peddlers.
A friend of mine who runs an avionics company says that although experimental projects in the pipeline when the economy collapsed were completed, there haven't been anywhere near enough new builders to sustain business models. It feels as though it'll be Dynon and Garmin who emerge with everyone else giving up. Even Avery Tools wasn't there this year.
I'm not entirely sure how GA is going to survive all of this.
But that's a topic for another day.
Sean and I left on Sunday morning, taking about an hour and half from start-up to touchdown in South St. Paul, just enough time for him to go home and change, and get to Target Field to watch the Twins and his favorite --the Yankees -- play.
I've heard enough people over the years talking about their memories of spending time at Oshkosh with their dads. When we're gone, these are all we leave behind.
I love my RV airplane.
(Photos by Patrick Collins)