Density Altitude… It was Monday morning and the forecast was still looking a little nasty for the next few days. So, we decided to break camp a day early and try to get as close to Oshkosh as we could. It was only a five hour flight, but we would would lose a time zone hour traveling east. This would make it hard to get into Oshkosh before the airshow closed the field, so we decided to get as close as we could, find a hotel, take good shower and spend the night in an air conditioned room. By the time we packed everything up and loaded the airplane at KRAP it was 10:00 and the temps were already in the 90’s. The automated weather at the airport was indicating a density altitude of over 7,000 feet… with a field elevation of 3,200 feet, thats a lot of DA! To the non-pilots out there, density altitude is a calculation that tells you basically where the plane “feels” like it is. The higher a plane climbs the harder it is to continue that climb. So, on this day, at this location and temperature, with the wheels on the ground our plane would climb like it is already at 7,000 feet… not too good, but well within her performance limits.
Long Roll… After “holding short” for a few planes on final, we were finally give clearance to takeoff and get out of this sweltering heat. As expected with the high density altitude, we rolled a lot further down the runway before lifting off, but soon we were climbing out and heading east. As we were departing, the controller even asked if we were going to Oshkosh… he sees a lot of RV’s stopping there during Airventure week.
Weather Ahead… We knew when we were planning the route that morning that we were going to have to get around a cold front that was slowly falling south from Canada. As we approached the looming clouds we could see several openings to the north and since its always better to be behind the weather than in front we took advantage of these openings. This did turn out to be a good decision since the front consolidated to our south and the temps fell into the 50’s at 9,500 feet – a welcome relief from the 90’s we just left!
Two Hops to Wisconsin… We were not able to land at our intended first stop due to weather but made it a little farther northeast to Mankato, MN. Mankato Regional Airport (KMKT) is located just south of Minneapolis and has two nice long runways. The staff was friendly and had free hot dogs and drinks for Oshkosh travelers along with a fuel discount. While resting there, we met two folks from California that were headed to Oshkosh. A young lady that had just taken her PPL check ride at 16 years of age and her grandfather. It was inspiring to see the two of them sharing a passion like flying and to hear her
dreams of becoming a Naval aviator. They were going to try to get into Oshkosh after the airshow that day, but we had decided to fly close to Oshkosh and spend the night in a hotel so we could wake up clean and fresh for the demanding OSH arrival. I had chosen Alexander Field (KISW) at Wisconsin Rapids, WI and gave them a call to see how far we would be from a hotel. The lady that I talked to, called a local hotel with a reasonable rate for us and offered to give us a ride in when we arrived – What a deal! The weather appeared to be moving in on us again, so we said our goodbyes to our new friends and continued east to KISW.
Great Place to Stop… We arrived at Wisconsin Rapids without any issues and were able to put Caddie in a hangar for the night for 20 bucks (good insurance, considering the weather we had been through). Howard, the owner of HJ Aviation, drove to the hangar, picked us up and carried us in to the hotel in his personal vehicle and said he would be back to pick us up at 7:30 the next morning. Our hotel was nice and within walking distance of an Arby’s (dinner) and a CVS (wine)… two showers and a good nights sleep in air conditioning AND Howard was picking us up and taking us back to the plane early Wednesday morning. You always hear of southern hospitality, but we were treated like royalty at every airport we stopped at on this trip, especially at HJ Aviation!
Red & White RV, Cleared to Land Runway 36L… We threw our overnight bag in Caddie, said goodbye to Howard and departed to the southeast for Oshkosh. Beth flew the first leg to Ripon which allowed me to setup the radios and go over the NOTAM one more time. Our plan to get into OSH early worked out perfect, there was very little traffic due to the bad weather south and 4,000 overcast in the area. I took over flying once established on the arrival. At Fisk, we were asked which runway we wanted & we took 36 since it is what we did last year and it lets us roll out near the taxiway to home-built camping.
See The Short Video Below…
Great Times Ahead… Once we got the plane tied down and the tent set up, we headed to show center with eyes wide open and our thoughts turned to all things aviation – what a great week we have ahead of us… I am turning the keyboard over to Beth for the next post from Airventure 2012 – Stay tuned…
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