Your connection with the sky

Heading Home From Oshkosh

After a week at Oshkosh, we were ready to head home. The first day out, we had a steady headwind of about 6-10 mph and averaged 60-65 mph over the ground. (At least that's what Wayne and I did - Bob as usual zipped along much more quickly.) My Talon was so perfectly trimmed out that when I was trying to remove one sectional from the rubber bands around my right thigh (the way I keep my sectional in sight in my open cockpit aircraft) to get to the underlying sectional and both sectionals suddenly sprung free - I grabbed for them, totally taking both hands off throttle and stick. Caught them - and suddenly realized that the plane was just flying along straight and level with absolutely no rudder or stick inputs. Yeah!

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The humidity and heat for the next two days were overwhelming when we were on the ground, although my Talon performed admirably once we were aloft. The second night out we were delighted to find the FBO unlocked and air conditioned. Being in tents would be intolerable. The barometer reading was really low - presaging another storm. And sure enough, the next morning we woke up to a torrential downpour. Happily, we had anticipated it last night (radar pictures are so helpful) and had tarped and otherwise covered our planes. But we obviously weren't going to be going anywhere for a while - not with almost two inches of rain on the tarmac! So we burrowed deeper into our sleeping bags.

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We weren't able to take off until 12:30 p.m., and there was heavy cloud cover @ 3500’. Forward visibility was excellent. We flew for about 40 minutes - and then we crossed the Minnesota River and we were in South Dakota! Soon the clouds began to dissipate, and by the time we reached North Dakota the skies were clear and we had a slight tailwind.

The day’s flying was exceptional. The sky was crystal clear and deep blue. Visibility seemed to go on forever . The flooding in both South and North Dakota was overwhelming to see from the air. Both states look like an extension of Minnesota - "The Land of 10,000 Lakes". Miles and miles of swamped fields. As we flew further west, the flooding in North Dakota disappeared. Now we were over lovely farms, fertile fields, and green hills.

When we landed in Bowman, ND, it was blissfully dry and cool. The first time we'd been out of the heat and humidity in over 10 days! We camped under our wings at the airport and looked forward to being in Montana the next day. Only 30 miles from the state line!

The next morning (Aug. 3) it was sunny and bright, but we could see dark clouds building. We decided to tarp our planes before we left for breakfast. And we're glad we did! By the time we got back to the FBO it was pouring, with thunder and lightning for additional drama. The storm didn’t let up until the afternoon, and we were wings off as soon as possible. Easy flight to Bowman and then had the most gorgeous flight to Wiley Airport, Miles City, MT. All of us were raving about the beautiful scenery and the smooth air. We refueled at Wiley and continued to follow the Yellowstone River west. I was having the time of my life, thinking about Norm (it was his birthday,) and the beauty of western Montana.

I was flying straight and level when my engine gave a single cough and died. I pushed the starter button and the engine started up immediately - but only got to @ 3000 rpm. Then it coughed and died a second time. I tried once more with the same result. So I began looking for a place to land. I had my choice between sugar beets and wheat. The wheat looked better. I radio'd that my engine had died and I was going to land. (Wayne was in visual contact – Bob had flown on ahead and had already landed at our next stop.)

I felt pretty good about the quiet glide down, not really worried. I’ve dead-sticked into fields before so I felt I could handle this. I watched my wheels skim the top of the wheat - but then it grabbed the wheels and suddenly the Talon had was doing a somersault and then I was hanging upside down from my harness, with my face in the wheat!
Not hurt at all – not a scratch – but completely startled!

To be continued…

4 Responses to “Heading Home From Oshkosh”

  1. TangoWhiskeyTX Says:
    January 31st, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Love the adventure... that last picture--that's why you wear a helmet! Glad you were okay. Looking forward to your next installment. Leaving a reply just so you know people DO read these!

  2. Me too...eagerly awaiting details of the rest of your adventure!

  3. Well, I know I read your posts on here! What a great story! While reading this, I thought to myself, wow what a great flight and such a great experience…then I got to the part where your engine died. I was shocked because everything was going so smoothly but just like that, out of the blue, engine failure. Just reminds that we always need to be thinking about what we’re going to do in that situation, planning ahead and continuously thinking about our emergency procedures. One day down the road, I would like to fly cross country like this. I can’t imagine some of the people you’ve met along the way and all the stories you have to share. I’m glad to see you’re still around to pass them along. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this one. Take care! - Philip

  4. With a great experience behind you and the engine dieing then you went from everything being smooth to everything going wrong with the engine failure. If you had a plan in place then i'm sure you used your emergency procedures. I hope to one day fly to Europe on my own and getting my pilots license is my hope for sure. I hope that all can learn from this experience

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