With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

Oshkosh: The Blog Entry

2013 September 15 19:28

The trip to Oshkosh was big enough that I split the story and photos among 6 blog entries. Here are links to the individual entries.

Oshkosh 2013: coming home

2013 September 15 13:47

I'd originally planned to arrive and depart Oshkosh VFR. I managed it coming in. However, Wednesday morning, the field was open for VFR traffic, but it sure looked to me like the visibility didn't support safe or at least certainly legal VFR. So since I'd discovered on the way up that IFR reservations weren't a months-in-advance type of deal, I grabbed my laptop and requested a reservation for IFR outbound first thing Thursday morning...and got one!

By the time I made this decision, I didn't have a chance to get to a printer to print out an IFR windshield sign. I didn't have markers to make one. I didn't have transparent tape (or a scissors, really) to cut up the VFR sign and make it into an IFR. So I cut and folded creatively to make the sign into an IFR one:

As it turned out, I left so early that the marshallers weren't in position, so I didn't need it.

I filed this recommended route from the NOTAM:

I took off on 27, got turned south, then turned east to join my filed route at SHLTZ intersection.

It looks like I'm following the lower GPS here. I guess I must have put the filed route into both GPSs, and then when I was cleared direct to SHLTZ I then put that directive into the lower GPS.

I found this pair of indications amusing. Notice the box that the airplane is inside in the upper photo:

That's a restricted zone, probably military use.

Since ATC can vector you around traffic or around the whole area if need be, it's Ok to fly through them flying IFR.

About halfway across Lake Michigan, they just cleared me directly to my destination, Lansing Michigan, so you see here I'm leaving the filed route and going direct-to.

It was a lovely day to fly, but enough clouds that it was firmly IFR weather when I got to Lansing, so I flew the ILS approach.

Here's the route I ended up flying, from flightaware.com.

I had a meeting in Lansing, then I went back to the airplane, which wouldn't start. My first order of business was to set out the tent and sleeping bag since they were wet when I loaded up the plane at 5:30am.

I arranged for a mechanic to look at the plane the next day, so I needed a car to head to a hotel. I asked the FBO to get me the smallest car that Enterprise had; I got a mid-size Jeep sort of thing.

It had the same retro display types as the Chrysler we'd driven April.

I'm not going to go into the long annoying story of my stay in Michigan. Suffice to say that the plane sat on the ground in Lansing for far too long while I ran around trying to get a part fixed that wasn't broken.

Since I had to do a bunch of driving, I got another car, and I specifically asked for a sedan. I got a Hyundai Accent, which I really like, and it got tremendous gas milage. Something over 41 mpg, verified at the pump.

Back in the air, heading south to home. Have a little weather to dodge around.

As it turns out, my course stayed just to the east of it.

The finger of rain in the last photo is the fuzzy middle bit of this photo, looking over the right wing.

Finally, passing Cincinatti on my way home.

Oshkosh 2013: The Show

2013 September 15 13:16

This year, I took comparatively few photos. I was only at the show for three days. Monday I was concentrating on going to the Aeromart, picking up stuff, then getting it back to my camp site. By that point, I really didn't want to go out again. Tuesday I spent the day with my Uncle Bob, from whom I caught the flying bug. We walked around and went to some cool stuff, but I didn't take many photos. Wednesday I had other things to do, so I didn't take a lot of time walking around. Then Thursday I left. Being at Oshkosh is an excersize in becoming used to B-17 bombers flying overhead; so I didn't take pictures of stuff like that.

You know you're at Oshkosh when traffic has to yield to, say, a Sopwith Camel taxi-ing. I didn't catch people having to stop for it, but here it is continuing to taxi to parking:

Various groups have displays of mock-ups of war-style tent-cities. They have authentic vehicles to go with them. Here's a really nice early Willy's Jeep.

And the obligatory instrument panel shot.

The Jeep has a manual transmission. The tall gearshift connects to the main gearbox. It's a dog-leg configuration, meaning that first gear is DOWN from neutral:

R  2
|  |
|  |
1  3
The other two smaller levers control the transfer case. One shifts from 2-wheel-drive to 4-wheel drive, the other selects low range or high range.

Again, traffic yielding to a taxiing airplane.

While walking around with my Uncle, I ran into Bruce King of bkfliers.org and his second prototype. He has designed and built a single-seat experimental amateur-built airplane that he's built two of and is now selling plans for. He first flew his second prototype this spring, and I've been followin his his work via the web. I got a chance to talk to him and look over the engine compartment of his airplane.

Bruce put a flywheel-end drive VW engine in it:

I always enjoy seeing interesting things that people use for cowl plugs.

One thing that was really cool was that for the first time in several years, Mooney itself had a presence at the show. Unfortunately, I only stopped by very very briefly on Monday because I was carrying my loot, and I didn't get there before they closed on Wednesday.

Three WW 1 era planes (replicas, I assume). I think the one in the center is full sized and had an actual radial engine; the other two had flat-4 VW engines.

Oshkosh 2013 3 of 5

2013 September 15 12:21

This entry is pictures of my camp site at Oshkosh and the charging implements that I brought along.

Here's where I camped, at the west end of the North 40. The position is being indicated by he Stratus GPS.

The inital unloading:

As a historical note, the weather at the time I landed was ASS cold. Something like 43 degrees F and windy. And I didn't have anything with long sleeves, because Oshkosh tends to be hot or humid in the summer. While I was unloading and pitching the tend, I wore my headset. I looked like a big-ol dork but at least my ears were warm.

I tied the plane down to "The Claw" anchors.

The knot securin the rope to the anchor is a double-bowline.

The top of the rope is tied to the plane's tie-down loops with two double locking half-hitches.

I pitched the tend behind the right wing facing the fuselage

as close to the wing as I could make it.

That way, I could step out of the tend and be at the luggage door in about two steps, which was nice.

My walkway in and out was between the horizontal stabilizer and the tent, which isn't ideal, but it worked, and kept the whole camp site fairly compact.

I realized I was going to be mostly away from plug-in electricity, with my phone and laptop and camera. In the past, I've brought a big battery pack to charge things from. Those dont' last very long, though. So this year I stopped by Harbor Freight and bought a brief-case size fold-out solar panel, with fittings so that I can connect it to car chargers to charge my gear.

Here's the briefcase solar panel sitting on the tail catching the morning sun:

On the wing getting the mid-day sun

And then on the windshield to catch the late afternoon sun

The solar panel has a cable attached to it, that comes in the lower right to the plug at the bottom center:

The it plugs into a car-charger-type socket (top center). Then there's a car charger at the top center (with the blue light), into which is plugged a usb cable which then charges a device. Here's another charger charging the Stratus unit:

There are charging stations around; there's a big one at the North 40 shower house. Here's someone who has a battery back like I had who had plugged them there:

EAA had other places around the grounds for this function too:

Honda combined this concept with advertising both for themselves and their generators by putting stations like this around the grounds:

This is a running generator with a couple of power strips on a little platform. It also had several chargers and cables already. I plugged in and charged my phone at one of these a couple of time. This station was right by the food court, and it was well-used.

Oshkosh 2013 part 2 of 4

2013 September 15 12:15

Ok, finally time to depart to Oshkosh. Early Sunday morning. Here's the end of the route:

North through Illinois, then curve west to fly to the city of Ripon to start the VFR arrival procedure. By the way, it was GREAT to have the NOTAM stored in the documents folder in Foreflight.

Once under way, I realized I was going to tangle with a bit of weather.

The colored blocks are AIRMETs, which are areas of meteorological warnings. The grey one is IFR.

I also realized my course was going to cross throguh some rain, so I diverted a bit farther west.

Having diverted around the precip, I was noticing that the ceilings (green and blue boxes) ahead of me were getting pretty low, so I stopped and took a look at things at Rockford, Illinois.

I waited an hour and a half, at which point the weather seemed to be getting better rather than worse, so I headed out again. Things were mostly better, so I continued on into Oshkosh.

I don't have any photos of the last part of the flight; I was a single pilot, doing it for the first time, and so I was kinda busy. I hope someday I can have a movie camera in the plane taking footage when I go.

Oshkosh 2013 1 of 4

2013 September 15 08:17

I got to fly myself to Oshkosh this year, in a plane of my own. w00t! The narrative of the journey, with all the gory details of the flying, is in this entry in August. This entry and the three after it have all the photos (which three weeks after I wrote the narrative entry, I've finally edited).

I had a few things to do to the airplane before going to Oshkosh. One was making sure the lights were all up to snuff. One of the two lights in the rotating beacon was out, so I ordered and replaced the other one.

I also replaced the standard incandescent landing light with an LED one. It was a bit more expensive, but it draws MUCH less current. The specified approach to Oshkosh asks all airplanes to have all their lights, including landing light, on throughout the entire approach. I wanted to go easier on my electrical system. The old light is on the right and the new one is on the left.

Here's the LED light, installed and wired. The old light is a standard filament light, and so it doen't care which way electricity flows across it. The LED DOES, and as it turns out, it needed it flowing the opposite way as the old lights had. Fortunately there was just enough extra slack in the wires to attach them in the right direction without stretching.

In addition to printing out (and studying) the procedures in the NOTAM, I printed out windshield signs to hold up so that the marshallers on the ground will direct my airplane to the right spot.

The bottom one is for arrival, I want to park in "General Aviation Camping" (which is the area known as the "North Forty" at Oshkosh. The top sign is for departure, indicating that I'm intending to depart using "Visual Flight Rules". You'll hear more about that in the fourth entry on this trip.

And finally...I'm off! The Stratus sitting in its door handle

providing backup GPS guidance and weather updates

It was definitely summer Thunderstorm season. This trip was fairly calm, but there were storms to the south behind me that I managed to avoid (this is looking over my left shoulder.

It was nice weather, so I flew the route VFR, but I still had the GPSs tuned in.

All of a sudden the Apollo started warning me a Restricted Zone. There's a tiny tiny one in Indiana that I happened to fly near (I was well above it but I didn't know that).

The restricted zone is the blue thing in the middle, labelled "R-3405". It's apparently a tethered balloon.

I scheduled things so that I was at work a few days before I actually left for Oshkosh, to combine trips. Here's my office, with my iPad and the Stratus recharging.

I flew up to Oshkosh early Sunday morning, but I rented a car for just one day starting late morning Saturday so that I could run around town and get last-minute supplies and stuff. It also allowed me to bring my luggage and supplies back out to the airplane the night before departure, so that when I actually left, I only had one bag to walk out to the plane with. The car I rented was a Nissan Sentra. I don't have any photos of the outside, but here's the instrument panel:

And oddly enough, unliky the vast majority of cars nowadays, it has an actual dedicated "accessory" position on the key cylinder.

In entry 2, I'll actually fly to Oshkosh itself (eventually).

car2go coming to Minneapolis!

2013 September 05 08:33

I talked about Smart Cars and my experiences with car2go in a (relatively recent) blog post. That post was more concerned about the Smart Car itself rather than the car2go company, but it talks about that.

I ran across an internet post yesterday announcing that car2go is coming to Minneapolis, a city that I visit all the time. Whoo-hoo! I don't know that I'll always use it, but it's a very flexible option for some kinds of travel in the city.

For a very limited time while they're rolling out their service in a new city, they allow residents to sign up for the service without a fee. If you live anywhere at all in or near the Twin Cities metro area, I would encourage you to sign up for the service. There are no continuing membership fees; if you never use a car you don't pay anything, and they don't send you stuff unless you ask for it. They do ask for your driver's license information; a membership carries insurance with it, so they do the same level of check as getting new car insurance. The normal cost for signing up is something like $35.

The service is extremely slick and easy to use. One membership covers you for all their locations (at least on the same continent). I've used my membership to rent cars in Austin TX and Portland OR. You can rent any unused car any time and park it whenever and wherever you like, as long as it's a legal parking space.

It looks like the core area (where you can drop of a car) is the Minneapolis city limits. So it goes up to but doesn't include the St. Paul/Minneapolis airport. I wonder if at some point they're going to put a pod of car2go cars at the airport like they did in Austin; that would be really convenient.

And I do realize that there have been politics and bad feelings involved with car2go coming to the Cities. So there are definitely people who won't want to patronize them because of that, which is totally understandable. I'm certainly not saying that you should get a car2go membership instead of one of the other car-sharing companies in the area, just that it doesn't cost you anything to get this one (during the introductory period) and that way you can have it and try it out.