We want your best photos from the big show in Wisconsin next week. We’ll be picking a winner in each of two categories: the planes of AirVenture and the people of AirVenture. Take your best pictures and share it with us—we’ll pick the winners next weekend!
Sporty’s will once again be hosting a series of seminars at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, the world’s largest airshow. Experts from Sporty’s staff will share tips and advice on the following topics.
For more information, download the free AirVenture 2012 mobile apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.
Visit Sporty’s at the world’s greatest aviation celebration—EAA AirVenture Oshkosh! We’ll have an all-new booth and location, with more to see than ever.
Sporty’s booth is in a large tent (#260) right in front of Hangar B in the main display area. Stop by and see us!
Remember to get the free show app from Sporty’s.
I was raised on a tobacco and cattle farm in northeastern Kentucky. For my first seven years, instead of house with three bedrooms and a bath, ours had three bedrooms and a path. It wasn’t that we were poor, it was just common back in the fifties for farmhouses to lack running water. Usually the outdoor facility wasn’t a place you wanted to loaf. Often in the summer heat, insects would “motivate” you to finish the task - and in the winter, well, it’s cold out there. But occasionally in the spring and fall you would have those few days of perfect temperature and low humidity encouraging you to “sit a spell.” For these special occaisions, each outhouse typically contained a catalog from Sears and Roebuck, which to this farm boy seemed to have everything. “Necessity Time” in the spring and fall provided the opportunity to browse the catalog, pick out things you might want for Christmas or birthday and dog ear the page so another family member could find out your preferences. (A common misconception is that the catalog was used as a substitute for toilet paper. The glossy paper would be much too rough for this purpose and I knew no one who used it in this manner. Fresh corn cobs, however, were substituted on occasion.)
Now, fifty years later I work for Sporty’s and I regularly think of our Pilot Shop catalogs like I did the Sears and Roebuck catalog back then and apparently I am not alone. My travel takes me to dozens of airports each year and several pilots’ homes. Sure enough, in the rest room magazine rack or on the top of the toilet tank, there will be the latest issue of Sporty’s Pilot Shop catalog. For pilots, Sporty’s is the place that has everything and rather than just sit there they use their time perusing this contemporary version of the old Sears “Wish Book.”
I understand the city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is home to Islam’s holiest site and the destination of devout Muslims for a pilgrimage. In modern language, however, the word “Mecca” has come to mean a place for whom a visit is on the bucket list of ardent fans for various activities. A baseball fan might relish a visit someday to Wrigley Field, the Indianapolis Speedway is such a place for race fans, while donning a hat and traveling to Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May might be the ultimate pilgrimage for someone who fancies the ponies.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin is a city, normally inhabited by 66,000 normal people, on the western shore of Lake Winnebago. They work handling produce from the surrounding farms, build large trucks, fire engines and the famous Oshkosh B’Gosh line of kid’s clothing considered a staple by many of us. But one week a year this town of normal people is invaded by thousands with a “higher” calling, namely pilots and other airplane enthusiasts from around the country as they pilgrimage to Oshkosh’s Wittman Field airport for EAA AirVenture. Ask any pilot if he or she will be going to Oshkosh and usually you will receive one of two answers. An enthusiastic “Yes, I wouldn’t miss it!” or a wistful sigh of “Maybe next year.” For those of us with a piece of multi-colored plastic from the FAA in our wallet, Oshkosh is our Mecca.
Next year Sporty’s will award one lucky customer the keys to N3030N, a Cessna Skycatcher with serial number 16200100. Yes, that winner will receive the 100th Cessna 162. Sporty’s took delivery on July 14th and I drew the lucky straw to fly it from Sporty’s (Sears) to Oshkosh (Mecca) for display in the Cessna exhibit.
The VFR flyway up the western shore of Lake Michigan allows flight along the shoreline below 2,500 MSL between the Gary Indiana (KGYY) and Waukegan, WI (KUGN) class D airspace. An altitude of 1,500 put me comfortably above the water, yet still below the roofs of the Chicago skyline’s tallest buildings. I flew over the greenspace formerly known as Meigs Field and the Navy Pier. I remembered the time I landed at Meigs back in June of 2000 to visit the excellent museums, aquarium and planetarium there. Just south of Milwaukee I landed at John Batten Field (KRAC) in Racine, WI. On the ground I had another chance to review the AirVenture Arrival NOTAM on my iPad from the Sporty’s AirVenture app before flying the last 100 miles.
After fuel and a Snickers bar I launched for Waupun, WI as it provides a good initial fix for what is known as the Fisk VFR arrival to Oshkosh as outlined by the AirVenture NOTAM. Railroad tracks heading northwest out of Waupun will lead you straight to the town of Ripon. There you are instructed to be flying at 90 knots (if able) at 1,800 feet MSL with your transponder to standby (no your on-board traffic advisory system will not work here) and follow 1/2 mile behind the aircraft ahead of you directly over the railroad tracks now heading northeast to the town of Fisk.
A large sign is on the control tower at Oshkosh proclaiming it as the “World’s Busiest” tower during Airventure. Of this I had no doubt as I monitored Approach Control. “Blue Bonanza rock your wings,” stated the controller “Follow the railroad tracks for a right downwind 27 monitor tower 118.5. Green Cessna rock your wings. Good, turn right and follow Fisk Ave for Runway 36 monitor tower 126.6.” The commands, like the aircraft, were coming rapid fire and I wondered if these controllers were actually auctioneers on special assignment.
Approaching Fisk, I could now see the rain my MFD had been depicting since I left Racine. It looked like it was going to be tight, but once again, just like Chicago, the rain mostly held off until I was over Fisk and heard the controller “High Wing, looks like a Cessna rock your wings. Turn right follow Fisk Ave monitor tower 126.6.” The rain was steady but no threat to VFR visiblity. Following Fisk Ave put me on a nice left base for Rwy 36L.
“Skycatcher rock your wings,” came the order from the tower, “Skycatcher cleared to land yellow dot.”
Runway 36L has 4 large colored dots painted on the runway. The blue and pink ones are used when landing on 18R. 36L is 6,700 feet long and aircraft may be landing two at a time using some combination of the threshold, yellow (3,400 feet landing distance) and purple (4,950 feet landing distance) dots. After landing on the yellow dot I hastily exited the runway because I could hear landing clearances for aircraft behind me. Because I was a show aircraft I was allowed to taxi to Conoco-Phillips Plaza which leads to the main show area. There I was met by Cessna personel who had arranged for me to be towed to the Cessna exhibit on the western edge of the AirVenture grounds right by the main gate. Soon the Skycatcher was tied down and I was offered - and accepted - an ice cold bottle of water as the on ground temperature was around 93 degrees.
This year’s AirVenture will be covered extensively by the aviation press. You will read about the change of leadership at EAA, the tributes to legendary airshow performer, Bob Hoover, and the visit to Conoco-Phillips Plaza by the Boeing 787. My biggest memory? “Skycatcher cleared to land yellow dot.”