Father and Son and one airplane.

by Ken on November 14, 2009

Bryan and I finished our trip today (Monday 2 Aug 1999).

We were gone 10 days (9 nights) and covered 19 states with highlights in Branson Missouri, the Tuskeegee Airmen training field in Alabama, Ozarks of Arkansas, a Flight Service Station in Nebraska, the Badlands, Custer, Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave in South Dakota, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), a prairie oil field in Montana, prairie farmland in North Dakota, a visit to Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, a few days in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the big EAA fly-in, a quite town in Illinois, a stop at Sporty’s Pilot Supply in Ohio, and time in the racehorse area of Lexington, Kentucky.

We camped in the Black Hills of South Dakota as well as on a couple airports next to our airplane. The airplane looked pretty sharp with towels hanging from her props and drying lines tied between the entry step and the rear tiedown.

Branson was over 100 degrees F. (and not dry) and the traffic crawled at all times on the main and only road in the town. We caught two concerts, one so tacky that we found the tackiness alone to be worth the admittance (imagine canned music with a piano MUSAK player and dancing water fountains behind him). We are not sure the pianist was actually playing. Jim Stafford had an excellent show, however.

The Dakotas and Montana were desolate except for the Black Hills. We flew over endless plains with the occasional butte. Temperatures and altitudes made for some density altitude take-off in excess of 8,000 feet. The airplane did not like that at all.

Rushmore and “Chief Crazy Horse” (an in progress work of sculpture out of a mountain) were great (especially from the air).

Oshkosh was so crowded with aviation traffic that it was closed to all general aviation aircraft landing. We had to go to an overflow airport just to the south and shuttle into Oshkosh. Record temperatures, mosquitoes, lights, no-showers or water and the noise of the adjacent well-lit freeway kept the night long and nasty. Following day was the hottest in Oshkosh in 20 years. Combined with the lack of shower the previous night and the heat of the day anyone not sharing the experience would have walked around us by at least 15 feet. Fortunately, most attendees were in the same boat (or plane as it were) so we hardly noticed. Oshkosh claims to be the largest civilian airshow in the world. I suspect it is true. The second day was after a cold front had passed and was quite a bit more tolerable. Oshkosh was a great experience thought I must say that I like the EAA Flyin (Sun and Fun) in Lakeland as much.

One night, at an airport, a squall line went past and blew our tent end over end about 200 yards downwind. We were, fortunately, not in the tent at the time (though much of our gear was). Were forced to spend that night in the airport office on the floor with about 8 others who had suffered the same experience (at least it was air-conditioned). The tent may not recover.

Needed a chart for an IFR flight while in Kentucky. Asked an airport operator if there was any place nearby we could purchase one. He said that “Sporty’s” was within about 24 miles up in Ohio. So we went. For a pilot this is like a farmgirl getting to shop at Macy’s in New York. That was kind of a big deal for Bryan and I.

We crossed the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Illinois and the Ohio Rivers.

It was a great experience for this father and son. We know it was unique and the hardest thing was to think that it might be a “Once in a lifetime” experience; so we decided that it would not be only once. This, we must do again.

14 November 2009 update – We never did.

22 November 2009 update- (after Joanna’s comment) – We haven’t yet.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joanna November 17, 2009 at 12:11 am

Never say never! Time for you guys to plan a trip!

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