Leaving Wyoming was such a relief! We were tired of fighting the wind, high density altitude, (12,500’ DA over Cheyenne) and taxiing 10 minutes for take-off on 10,000’ runways. Although the hills of South Dakota were gnarly, there was a feeling that we’d left the worst behind.
We were stumped as we did our flight planning to cross South Dakota. Lots and lots of airports on the sectional, but almost none with gas! At least not within our 125 mile flight radius, which was our planning guideline. We’d have to take the chance that there would be airport bums hanging around who would take us to get gas.
Leaving Chaimberlain, SD we headed for Minnesota. This leg was everything any pilot could ever wish for. My flight log reads
“Absolutely the best ever flight over gorgeous farmlands, scattered white cotton-y clouds - bright blue sky. Talon trimmed out perfectly. Hands off, able to shift backward & forward & change altitude. Darn windshield – doesn’t let me feel the wind in my face - spread my arms and feel wind beating against me. Too much happiness – shouting ‘YAHOO!!’ and grinning like a loon. Hands off for over 40 minutes! Landed Pipestone, MN @ 1235 p.m. 1735 miles. ”
Flying over Minnesota was absolutely astounding – every superlative I can imagine comes to mind. The farmers don’t just plant their fields, they plant them in stunning patterns that are breathtaking from the air. Red barns and large silos. I was snapping photos like crazy. Then I stopped taking pics and concentrated on my flying, as the ceiling was getting lower, and we flew weaving amongst the hills. Crossing the Mississippi was a thrill, and a little nerve-wracking due to the lowering ceiling.
We were in Wisconsin!
We spent Sunday night, July 24 in Reedsburg, WI only 70 miles from Oshkosh! (Our route would make the flight 98 miles, since we were following highways.)
We were really nervous about flying into Oshkosh; it is the busiest airport in the world during EAA AirVenture. And the instructions for the 1200’ ultralight strip are complicated, watching for turning landmarks such as an oak tree and a billboard and a silo and gravel roads. All this while at 300’ AGL – lower than we’re comfortable flying over trees and buildings. We’d been told that we wouldn’t even see the grass strip until we were on base. We were also worrying about the amount of air traffic we might encounter – how many of the 10,000 aircraft which come to Oshkosh would we be sharing airspace with as we flew in?
Monday morning we crowded around the computer in the FBO and watched a video about landing at EAA AirVenture. We watched it several times. We also had the printed out the EAA instructions for ultralight/light sport entry to the ultralight runway.
It was with some trepidation that we took off from Reedsburg. To our surprise, we didn’t see ANY air traffic en route! Bob was in the lead and soon out of sight. Wayne and I kept close watch for each other, flying almost parallel. As we got closer, Wayne took the lead. There’s the oak tree…turn…there’s the billboard…turn…watch for the gravel road… I heard Wayne shout into the radio “Wow, I almost missed it!” and I looked to my left and there was the runway!
We had done it! Eight days and 2150 miles and we were at EAA AirVenture!!
In my next blog post, I’ll write about the show itself.