Once again, the Experimental Aircraft Association in July pulled off another great AirVenture fly-in at its home in Oshkosh, Wis. This year’s event had a little of everything, including torrential rain the Friday evening before Monday’s opening day, nighttime air shows and lots of airplanes of every shape, size and purpose. Perhaps because the pre-show rain knocked everyone off-kilter—followed by mid-week heat—the overall event seemed to need more cowbell, but it definitely was worthwhile checking out all the new stuff and checking in with long-time friends.

Like so many others, I flew my Debonair into KOSH, arriving the day before the Notam went into effect, one-stopping it from Florida at 10k and going around the west side of Chicago. I pulled up short of my planned fuel stop after an ATC re-route showed I would have less than my personal minimum of fuel available. Its weather had been going up and down all day, and there was a possibility of having to miss an approach and go somewhere else. I would have been left with less than 20 gallons to find another airport, and that’s just not enough for my thirsty engine.

To get home, I crossed Lake Michigan at 9500 feet, one-stopping it again and arriving well after sunset, thanks to an event that morning. Thunderstorms—mostly of the air-mass variety but including a few spiced up by frontal activity—were a consideration both days.


A check of Nexrad radar after my homeward-bound fuel stop argued strongly in favor of abandoning Plan A to avoid some air mass storms perched along that route. That stuff showed enough gaps that it might have been manageable, but central Florida airspace configurations don’t tolerate substantial deviations for weather very well. Instead of going down the center of Florida’s peninsula, I asked for and received new routing after my fuel stop in Georgia that featured a dogleg to the southwest. After turning the weather’s corner, I motored off down the Gulf Coast, always within gliding distance to land.

Both days included great handling by ATC, generally smooth rides and a strong desire for a faster, air-conditioned airplane. I covered more than 1000 nm in a few hours each day and on the same basic schedule I planned out weeks earlier. That’s transportation value.

— Jeb Burnside


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