Sometimes, I’m not farming

Last week Spork and I spent the week in Oshkosh, WI. Spork wants to be a pilot and the airshow at Oshkosh was the best place to see a bunch of aviation colleges all at once. Plus, with a current pilot and a future pilot together, the worlds largest general aviation airshow wasn’t the worst place to spend the week.

Farmer Dan and son flying to Oshkosh, WI
Spork, in his typical copilot role. Dead asleep.

I know this is a farming blog, but for a pilot flying into Oshkosh is a pretty epic trip, something every pilot should do at least once. For Spork and I, it was our second time doing it. The first time was after we’d completed building an airplane ourselves. This time it was Mr Piper’s airplane, and all of our camping gear.

Camping gear for Oshkosh
Did I say camping? I meant glamping.

With a generator for power, a refrigerator for our food, a hot plate for cooking, a kettle for tea, a tent with not one, but two porches, I’d say we qualified for glamping. Farmer Dan don’t camp.

Embry-Riddle booth at Oshkosh
Embry-Riddle’s tent at Oshkosh

The reason SWMBO gave us a note to disappear for a week was we were looking at colleges. Most of the major universities with flight programs present at Oshkosh so it is relatively easy to go see them all at one location. It isn’t the same as being on campus, but it was a good first step to start narrowing down the choices.

Camping under the wing with the Piper Lance
Our glamping site at Oshkosh

You can stay lots of places during the airshow. I’ve only stayed “under the wing” as it is called. Obviously we cannot fit under our wing but sleeping in a field, beside the runway, and 10,000 of your closest aviation friends, is a pretty cool way to spend some time. Being awakened each morning by a flight of P-51s or T-6 Texans is a pretty unique way to get up in the morning. They should package that sound and turn it into a pilots alarm clock.

Spork asleep at Oshkosh in the tent
Teenagers can sleep anywhere

Unless you are a teenage boy I guess. He slept right through the flights starting about 6am. Let me tell you, four fighters taking off 100 yards from you is LOUD. He snored right through it each morning. It is a mystical ability that I guess I had somewhere along the way but I sure don’t remember it.

This is just a quick peek at Fighter Town at Oshkosh. You could spend a day just walking through all of these.

Spork flying the crosswind trainer

It wasn’t all fighters and airshows. There is a lot of training opportunities at Oshkosh. From simulator sessions with flight instructors to information sessions on any topic you can think of, there were a lot of hours for both of us spent improving our skills and knowledge. Although mom was not impressed with any topic besides colleges.

Text conversation with SWMBO about colleges

She’s a task master, that one.

Bad thunderstorm at Oshkosh

We had a spot of bother with the weather. When we looked at the forecast, it was sunny and warm the entire week. Then early in the week, we were awakened to broadcasts of “take shelter!” It was 1:30am so we hunkered down in our tent and watched the storms shown above pass over us. They were completely unforcast.

Then later in the week, there was talk of 50mph winds and storms tonight. Then it was 75mph! Then finally it was 100mph and tornadoes! They evacuated the campgrounds, which about 250 people out of the thousands there took advantage of. The rest of us stayed in our tents and rode it out. There was quite a lightning show, the likes of which I’ve never seen. But the winds were benign so after loosing a few hours of sleep, we were back at it again the next day.

Farmer Dan with JAARS helio courier
Jungle Aviation And Radio Service = JAARS

We (Civil Air Patrol) are participating in a fund raiser for JAARS at Cox Airfield in Apex the last weekend of this month. So we stopped by to say hello to their folks and talk about the upcoming event. They are giving rides to the public as a fund raiser. The rides are in their helicopters and this super cool Helio Courier. I’ll post info about it when I get a copy of the brochure. It was very popular last time in 2019 when we supported it and it is for a very good cause.

EAA oshkosh show center boeing plaza
Show center at Oshkosh, looking into Boeing plaza.

This was the longest I’ve ever stayed at an airshow and by the end I was ready to go home. Even though we’d never once actually sat on the flight line and watched the actual airshow. Nor had we visited 1/3 of the vendors or really gone deep into any one vendor. There is just too much to see.

On the way up, I was letting Spork get used to using the iPad and Foreflight for navigation and traffic avoidance. When we needed to make a fuel stop, I asked him to find us a place. He picked something near Chicago and I said, “No, that will be expensive. Find us someplace more rural. The fuel and taxes both will be cheaper.”

So he picked KMCX in Indiana which looked fine. When I land, the first place I visit is the bathroom because I am not fuel or endurance limited. I’m bladder limited. I walked in and found this taped on the wall.

Do not spit tobacco juice in the urinal
More rural indeed. Nice job Spork

In the very nice building we found a nice lady, who for some reason had a table with a mostly completed puzzle on it. Spork immediately went over, said hello, and started casually working on the puzzle. When it came time to go home, I joked about where we’d stop heading back. Did he want to go finish his puzzle?

Spork, working on the puzzle while I fuel, clean, preflight, and everything else.

Spork wasn’t joking. His mother CANNOT leave a puzzle undone. Apparently Spork has that disease as well. He worked on the puzzle from the time we landed till I pulled him away to continue home. He calculated that he finished about 1% of the puzzle between his two stops.

So why do I post all this on our farm blog? Because Jeanette said she’d shoot me if I didn’t get something posted. ANYTHING! Just do your stupid job Farmer Dan. I haven’t been actually farming the past few weeks. I’ve been college shopping and traveling so here you go. Plus airplanes are cool, so maybe you guys will enjoy seeing a bit of what goes on in that world. I promise an actual farming post after this one.

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