Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Oshkosh 2017: Seaplanes & More

I started making plans to attend AirVenture 2017 shortly after my July work schedule was posted on June 15th.  I know what you're thinking.  Good luck finding a place to stay on short notice.  Normally I would agree; but I had an ace in the hole!  My good friend, Bob Blythe---high school football teammate, college roommate, and fellow Piper Tomahawk pilot (we both passed our private pilot check rides in Tomahawks)---lives in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, only one hour and twenty minutes (via land yacht) southeast of Oshkosh.  The first thing I did was check to see if Bob was going to be in town.  He said:  "I'm in town all week, bring your friends and stay with me."  The next thing I did was ask Brother Barbeau if he would like to tag along---we would non-rev on the airline to Milwaukee on Monday, the first day of the fly-in, the loads looked good.  He said:  "Absolutely!"  Quick and simple plans are the best.  Of course they never really are that simple.

They fell apart Sunday evening; well, earlier in the weekend, actually.  Brother Barbeau's regular NASCAR King Air trip out of Charlotte, North Carolina morphed into a NASCAR Citation trip out of Greensboro, North Carolina.  The race was in Indianapolis, Indiana. Scheduled arrival time back in Greensboro was 2300.  That was if his guy didn't win.  Winners tend to hang around the track longer because of interviews---and all the other stuff that goes along with having a good day at the races.  The two hour drive back to Charlotte would have Brother Barbeau home at 0100 Monday morning.  Our flight to Milwaukee, by way of Detroit, Michigan was scheduled to depart at 0600.  Brother Barbeau was going to need a nap somewhere along the way. 

Something happened Sunday evening---a weather event, possibly a broken airplane.  All of a sudden flights that had been holding steady, with ten open seats, were now overbooked. Detroit to Milwaukee looked particularly troubling.  Normally, getting stuck somewhere is not a big deal.  You just wait for the next flight and hope there's an open seat.  Getting stuck somewhere when you are sleep deprived---for example, after a red-eye; or flying your race car driver home from Indianapolis---can be a miserable experience.  A quick check for an alternate route revealed what I already knew; Detroit was our best option, and that had gone south.  I sent a message to Brother Barbeau:  Our flights are now full.  Sleep in.  Call me when you get up.

We met for breakfast.  After studying our non-rev options---Tuesday morning didn't look too bad---Brother Barbeau decided he would skip the fly-in.  Another NASCAR trip was scheduled for the following weekend.  There was a distinct possibility we might not make it home on Thursday.  (That turned out to be a good call on Gary's part.  His trip moved up a day and departed on Thursday.)  

After breakfast I continued to study my options.  I discovered there were a couple of (unreserved) cockpit jump seats that would still get me up to Milwaukee, but I had to move fast.  I called Wauwatosa and then set out for the airport.  Bob "Tomahawk" Blythe would be my copilot for Oshkosh---or I would be his, since he would be driving!

AirVenture 2017:

Seaplane Base, Lake Winnebago   

This was my seventh trip to Oshkosh.  My number one goal this year was to visit the seaplane base at Lake Winnebago.  

AirVenture Seaplane Base Operations Office.

Algae anyone?

It's not a seaplane base unless it has a DeHavilland Beaver on floats; or a Bat Boat for that matter!

A relaxing ride around the mooring lagoon in an eleven passenger pontoon boat. . .   So relaxing I forgot to grab my bag of swag when I disembarked.  My T-shirts got another ride around the lagoon---it only stands to reason, a seaplane rating is in my future.

Republic SeaBee.


Fellow Piper Tomahawk pilot, Bob Blythe, in front of Doc, one of only two flying B-29s in the whole wide world!  

B-17G Flying Fortress.  I took this picture to honor EAA Chapter 961's resident B-17 pilot, Tom "Pinky" Funderburk.  I've written about Pinky before.  Read all about it in "Keep the ADF warm and take your sextant."


My new favorite airplane!  Some guys dream about Brigitte Bardot in a bathing suit.  I dream about Brigitte Bardot in a Fairchild 71.  I don't care what you fly, this is cool!

Other Stuff

The start of the airshow Wednesday afternoon.  I'm not a giant airshow fan---please, no hate mail!  I don't dislike them per se; I just feel like if you've seen one, you've seen them all---but (there's always a but) with that being said, the airshows at AirVenture are really top notch!

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