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2014 Q3 Newsletter

Steve Blonstein, General Manager WVFC

Did You Know?


As a member of West Valley Flying Club, you may not be aware of a large number of benefits that come with membership.  There are actually so many that we’re going to start a weekly “note” to the membership explaining these benefits.  I have a few favorite ones that I would like to share with you now.  You’ll see more of these over the next few weeks and months.

 CA Passport Program.  We are the only club with a program specifically designed to encourage the membership to tour the state and visit as many CA airports as possible.  There are patches, prizes, and pride associated with visiting 25, 50, 100, or 200+ airports.  We had one member visit all 240! (and pictures to prove it!)

Five Stars.  We are the only club with a program that awards you loyalty points for flying our planes, attending meetings/events, or for having achieved something like a solo, passed a check ride etc.  Points accumulate towards things like iTunes gift certificates, all the way to a $100 gift certificate for Harris Ranch – one of the coolest places to fly for a great steak lunch or dinner.

Free G1000 SIM time.  We are the only club that offers a free hour every month on either our PAO or SQL G1000 based SIMs.  The G1000 is most likely the wave of the future for the GA cockpit.  There is no better or more economical way to figure out what the dozens of buttons, and hundreds of features do than a quality SIM like the ones we have.

Summer Program.  We are the only club that offers a middle/high school summer program for kids in 8th-12th grade.  The kids get a week long immersion in aviation, flying planes to cool places and visiting various aviation related activities like NASA, CDF, a live-in airpark, and an aviation museum.  The program was sold out (again) this year and the dates are set for 2015.  If you have kids in this age bracket it is never too early to register for one of only 8 slots.

The list goes on and on.  We think we’ve got enough of these “Did You Knows”, so that at one a week, it will take the better part of a year to tell the entire story.  Please take a minute each week to read the “Did You Know” item and see if it makes sense for you to take advantage of.

Fly Safe.


Michael May, Standards Officer WVFC


The FAA and West Valley


In the past several months, the FAA has contacted WVFC a few times requesting information about minor incidents that our aircraft have been involved in. The purpose of this article is not to focus on these incidents, but rather to inform you, the membership, what to do should you be involved in anything that could draw the FAA’s attention. Our Safety Office has noticed that the FAA is now following up on certain types of incidents that historically they have not been interested in, and we want to make sure you are informed properly of what these incidents consist of and how to properly respond.

 First, here are some examples of what might put you on the FAA’s radar, so to speak. Some of these should be fairly obvious. A declaration of an emergency, entering the SFO Class B airspace without a clearance, or runway incursions that result in loss of separation will certainly draw the FAA’s attention. Additionally, there are some other reasons the FAA may request more information. As you know, PAO and SQL are both towered airports. The respective control towers are required to report many different types of events to the FAA. These include runway excursions (including using a runway overrun area to stop), aborting a takeoff, a runway incursion of any kind, or landing without contacting the tower (if your electrical system fails, for instance). In some of these instances, the tower may not inform you that they are reporting anything to the FAA. It’s also worth noting that these types of events are not necessarily the fault of the pilot. A brake failure can lead to a runway overrun, for example.

 So what should you do if something happens? Here’s a fictitious example. You are at SQL holding short of the runway and you mistakenly enter the runway and take off without a clearance. The tower informs you that he cleared you to line up and wait only, but he doesn’t sound too upset and he doesn’t ask you to call him after landing. There is no further mention of it after this. No harm, no foul, right? WRONG! Even though the tower didn’t tell you, he has reported this as a runway incursion to the FAA, as he is required to do. In this case, you should notify the WVFC Safety Office as soon as practical, and file a NASA ASRS form as well. Notifying the Safety Office allows us to be prepared and informed when the FAA inevitably asks us about the incident, and will allow us to proactively address the situation with you, the member.

 Once you’ve notified the Safety Office, we will ask you to document the incident for us, and depending on the nature of what happened, we may ask you to receive some remedial ground or flight instruction. I’d like to emphasize that you should not be afraid to let WVFC know when something like this happens. As long as there hasn’t been a willful disregard for safety or a blatant violation of FAR’s any action taken by the club will be non-punitive, and your disclosure will remain completely confidential. Any instruction we may ask you to receive serves a dual purpose. We want to ensure that whatever deficiency causing the incident is addressed of course. In addition, any corrective action that you take proactively will be looked upon favorably by the FAA. Additionally, in general the best thing you can do to minimize any FAA action taken is to be proactive, honest, and cooperative.

Overall, these requests for information from the FAA are rare, and they are usually the result of a mandatory report from some sort of ATC facility. It’s important to remember that when some kind of minor mishap occurs, whether its due to pilot error, controller error, or mechanical failure, it should be disclosed. Doing so will speed up the FAA’s process for handling these reports and increase your chances for a favorable outcome if enforcement action is a possibility.


Dave Fry, WVFC CFI and Aviation Safety Counselor


The Rote to Ruin

Imagine, if you can, a pilot that successfully passes multiple FAA check rides for various licenses, yet at the top if his game should buy a boat and probably leave IT tied at the dock.

How can this be, you may wonder?  Sure, if a pilot is rusty, any number of variances from perfection may occur, but if the pilot is firing on all cylinders, how can things be so bad that the pilot shouldn’t be allowed onto the field?

First of all, we recognize even during the training process that phase checks and check rides are somewhere between slightly and completely artificial environments.  And despite the FAA’s professed desire and mandate to make the Practical Test a scenario-based event, there is still a LOT of predictability. In fact, I’ve seen cases in which the check rides (including the oral) were as scripted as a figure skater’s long program or a gymnast’s floor exercise routine. When you know what’s coming and you can practice each of the maneuvers over and over, even a marginally talented pilot will pass the Practical Test.

In the real world, however, things happen that aren’t on the original plan.  Even when things don’t go wrong (as they sometimes do), any number of things can happen.  When was the last time you had a flight go EXACTLY according to plan?  I’ve certainly had some that were close.  I’ve even had some aspects that went exactly according to plan, while other parts of the same flight differed from the original plan.  Recently, for example on a five and a half hour flight from Kansas City, Missouri to Truckee, I had planned to land with 600 pounds of fuel (jet A is usually measured in terms of pounds instead of gallons – except when dispensing it from the truck), and actually landed with 599.  I’m pretty sure if I’d hit the fuel reset button several times, one of the readings would have been 600, so we’ll pretend that part was exactly according to plan.  On the other hand, the flight route wasn’t what I filed.  It wasn’t even what I was originally cleared for.  The winds aloft weren’t what I’d planned, and I totally lost GPS signals over Nevada (were they doing something in Area 51, perhaps?).  And, despite the advertised “clear and a million” at Truckee, the conditions were just barely good enough to allow a visual approach – if you feel comfortable doing one among some serious rocks and interesting up and down drafts.  Each of those “variations on a theme” required conscious thought and consideration, as well as application of other knowledge. 

And this is the point at which preparation for a scripted check ride does the pilot absolutely no good.

According to the Flight Instructor’s Handbook, there are four levels of learning (listed here with my editorial interpretation).

1.  Rote – The ability to repeat a bit of knowledge or an action without understanding the underlying concepts or how to apply the knowledge or action to a new situation

2.  Understanding – The knowledge of why and how an action is performed

3.  Application – The ability to execute a particular action consistently and within acceptable standards

4.  Correlation – The ability to see when a particular skill or bit of knowledge would be appropriate in a different situation, and the ability to perform it successfully in that situation., or when it should be combined with another skill or bit of knowledge

What the FAA would like to see is pilots knowing and flying at the “correlation” level.  Unfortunately, most of our preparation and most of the testing is to the “rote” level.  

How comfortable are you when the aviation gods throw you a curveball?  As you may have guessed, many of my columns fall out from what has happened when I’ve been on the receiving end of a curveball, knuckleball, or spitter.  And long-time readers may have noted that some of those occasions have gone, let us say, less than smoothly.  The longer you’ve been in the flying game, the more likely it is that you’ve had at least a couple of those things, as well.  Did things go as well as you wanted?  Of course, if our standard is “any landing you can walk away from is a good landing, and if the plane is reusable, it’s a GREAT landing,” we may not be setting the bar quite high enough.

So, when things didn’t go according to plan, and assuming you were somewhat less than totally pleased with your response, two questions fall out:

1. What did you learn?

2. What would you like to do about it?

This by the way is one of the reasons (aside from the fact that the insurance company demands it) that I go to recurrent training once a year in the Pilatus and various jets (back when I was fortunate enough to have a jet to fly).  Sure, some of the training is scenario based, but you can pretty much guess what some of the scenarios will be, and when they will occur.  On the other hand, I like to ask the sim instructor for some special scenarios and ask him to integrate them into the training.  The ones I ask for are ones that I’ve had to deal with during the previous year, or which (from the literature) I’ve heard about biting other pilots recently.

Most of us don’t have access to training simulators with the capability of a Pilatus sim, so most of what we do must be done in the plane.  And what better time than during a flight review – a pilot’s input regarding issues that have happened in the past two years can provide a creative CFI with the fodder for some pretty relevant scenarios.

And it may keep a Flight Review from being a repetition of the normal steep turns, slow flight, and stall recoveries – it could actually help make you a better pilot.


Lindell Wilson, WVFC CFI 

Fuel Challenges and Best Practices

 Fuel management is important and lack of attention to details can lead to bad results. Let’s look at a couple of fuel related accidents at PAO.

 6/23/2011 – A Cessna 172 entered the traffic pattern at PAO. While turning base leg to final in the pattern, the pilot noticed the aircraft was slightly low and the pilot advanced the throttle forward but the engine did not respond. The NTSB accident report discusses the pilot’s attempt to troubleshoot the problem and unsuccessful attempts to restart the engine. The pilot landed short of the runway in the marsh area to the south of the PAO airport. There was the smell of fuel at the accident site. During the accident investigation, the engine was started and appeared to run normally. The NTSB reason for the loss of engine power was not determined.

 What could have gone wrong? Several possibilities are; 1) Fuel selector not in the Both position resulting in temporary fuel starvation during the turn to final;  2) Fuel selector turned to an empty tank; 3) Fuel selector in the Off or in-between position; 4) vapor lock in the fuel lines (less likely).  Possibilities 1, 2, and 3 would have been observed (position of fuel selector) during the investigation and would be pilot attention-to-details related. Your guess?

 8/23/2011 – A Beech 24 had completed about an hour of touch-and-go landings at PAO when the student pilot (instructor in right seat) switched the fuel selector from the right to left fuel tank. Ten minutes later on takeoff and 300 feet above the ground, the engine quit and they landed on a dirt road just north of the PAO airport.  During the aircraft salvage operation, 12 gallons of fuel was removed from the right tank, and 2 “cups” from the left tank. Hmmm…

Below are some Fuel Best Practices - Fuel Awareness 


1)     Know how much fuel you have.

a.     Think of fuel not in gallons or pounds, but in hours and minutes.

b.     Add one or two gallons per hour to your computed fuel consumption estimate.

c.     Know for certain how much usable fuel is on board.

2)     Know your aircraft’s fuel system.

3)     Know what’s in your fuel tanks (i.e. grade, contamination free)

4)     Update your fuel status regularly (account for winds and possible weather deviations).

5)     Always land with adequate reserve fuel (1 hour minimum).


David Vital, Director of Maintenance

Aircraft Batteries

Hello WVFC members! The maintenance subject this month will be about aircraft batteries. The aircraft battery is a seldom-noticed and somewhat-ignored component of the machine’s life-giving systems. In past articles, we’ve discussed the aircraft’s ignition system, and noted that it doesn’t require a battery; the engine runs just fine with its magnetos creating the electrical pulses necessary to make the cylinders fire. But because of our increased reliance on electronics and technology in the cockpit, the battery has become the star of the show in modern aircraft.

Our batteries—and in fact all batteries—essentially are energy-storage modules. In our aircraft, we rely on the battery to store enough energy, so when we turn the ignition key, there’s enough power to turn the starter, which turns the propeller and creates that initial spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders. Once the engine is firing on its own, the battery provides power to all the aircraft’s electronics, like radios, glass-panel displays, GPS units and the zillion other things in the aircraft that run on electricity.

Most think the battery’s job is done once the engine has started, since the alternator is now engaged by the turning engine and constantly feeds power to the battery and other electrical components. While that’s true, the battery still exists to provide emergency power in the event of an alternator failure. Anyone who has experienced an alternator failure at night knows the value of a well-charged battery. 

Most of us are flying around with lead-acid batteries. While most electronics have moved to nickel-cadmium, and more recently, Li-Ion technology, general aviation has stayed with lead acid for a number of reasons, including ease of maintenance and low cost. Lead-acid technology is robust, proven, and—like the lowly magneto—reliable. The technology is simple.

Lead-acid aircraft batteries contain six or 12 “flooded” lead-acid cells connected in a series to make a 12-volt or 24-volt battery (each cell is nominally rated at 2V). The cells are encased in a plastic container equipped with electrical terminals (or sometimes a receptacle for mating to the aircraft). Each cell consists of positive plates made of lead dioxide and negative plates made of spongy lead (a form of metallic lead). The “flooded” part refers to the electrolyte that fills each cell, made of sulfuric acid and water. 

The positive and negative plates are separated by layers of polyethylene to prevent the plates from shorting together. Electrons flow from the negative plate, out the battery terminal to whatever electrical component is being powered, then back through the positive plate. The electrons leaving the negative plate cause an oxidation reaction that converts the spongy lead into lead sulfate. The gathering of electrons at the positive plate causes a chemical reaction that converts the lead dioxide into lead sulfate. The whole process continues until most of each plate is converted to lead sulfate and the battery is fully discharged. 

Meanwhile, the engine is turning the alternator, which sends an electrical charge back to the battery, keeping it from discharging completely. During the charging process, current is passed through the cells in the reverse direction. The reverse current causes a reverse of the chemical reaction, returning the positive plates to lead dioxide and the negative plates to spongy lead. When this process is complete, the battery is fully charged. 

Even in the battery world, the trick is balancing the benefits of the technology with the cost to aircraft operators. New technologies aren’t as inexpensive as what we have today, and it remains to be seen where batteries will go in aviation. So, think about your humble battery next time you look at that ammeter during your run-up. Consider the work it has to do and what you as a pilot can do to keep it—and your entire electrical system—happy and functioning. 

Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group

Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group – May, June, and July Meeting Report

It has been a great summer and the Bay Area Student and New Pilot Support Group is continuing to provide a great forum for all pilots to share their knowledge of aviation with other likeminded pilots. We have had a number of great trip reports from pilots that have shared their experiences with the group. There are still many more flying days left in the year and we are excited about all the topics that are planned for the 2nd half of 2014. With the change to a quarterly newsletter we encourage anyone interested in participating in this group to register as described at the end of this article.

May Meeting

The Student and New Pilot group held its May 2014 meeting on Monday May 12th one week later than usual due to conflicting schedules. The topic for the meeting was ELT’s, PLB’s and tracking devices. The presentation detailed the events that triggered the introduction of ELTs to general aviation, the difference between 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz ELTs, details on how satellite detection works for 406 MHz ELTs, Personal Locator Beacons (PLB), as well as alternatives to PLBs such as SPOT, Spidertracks and inReach.

June Meeting

The group covered two topics in June. We had a trip report from a member regarding a flight to Las Vegas as well as a discussion on best practices when using a safety pilot for IFR training or maintaining instrument currency.

Stuart shared with the group his experience with a trip to Las Vegas. This trip was in a Cessna 172 and was his longest trip at that time. He discussed his decision on which of the three airports to use as a destination at Las Vegas. The three Las Vegas airports are McCarran (KLAS), North Las Vegas (KVGT) and Henderson (KHND).  He chose to use North Las Vegas. The FBO at North Las Vegas was very friendly and arranged transportation for Stuart. The group shared experiences with other Las Vegas airports. A comment was made that Henderson was also a good option as it was nice and had rental cars however shuttle service was poor.

Stuart went on to share the details of his route planning which was to go south to avoid the higher mountainous terrain. The cruising altitude was planned for 9,500. Upon arrival into the Las Vegas area he was expecting to use the ROCKS VFR transition route but ATC provided him radar vectors to North Las Vegas airport.

On the return leg, ATC provided a clearance through the restricted area R-2515 and over Edwards Air Force Base. He mentioned that an aircraft ahead of him had asked for that clearance, which was granted and then ATC offered it to him. This was a short cut that saved some time on his return trip. The total round trip flight time was about 8.5 hours with the trip to Las Vegas around 4.0 hours and the return trip around 4.5 hours.

During the second half of the meeting the group discussed best practices when using a safety pilot. Instrument rated pilots need a safety pilot so they can maintain instrument currency by flying instrument approaches while under the hood. Any private pilot can act as a safety pilot and watch for traffic. The group focused on reviewing the FAR requirements for being a safety pilot as well as how to best brief your safety pilot, especially if they are not familiar with instrument approaches.

July Meeting

For July we had a detailed trip report from Matt, a group member that has flown to Frazier Lake (1C9). Frazier Lake offers a number of unique features. First of all it has a grass runway as well as a waterway for seaplanes. Matt described the feeling of using a soft field landing technique on a runway that really required it. We all learn during our training soft field landings and takeoffs techniques but we don’t always get a chance to put it to use on a grass runway.

Frazier Lake also offers a “Display Day” event the first Saturday of the month. Display Day is like an open house with a large number of antique aircraft on display. The event is open to the public and you can fly or drive there for the event. Matt had some fascinating pictures that he took of all the aircraft on display.

Matt shared with the group some insights on flying in to Frazier Lake including details about the typical wind pattern, how best to approach the airport as well as where to park on the field since transient parking is on the grass. The presentation raised the interest level among those present of wanting to fly to this unique airport.

Also in July we had a presentation on cockpit traffic advisory systems. The presentation covered the difference between TIS, TAS, and TIS-B. The original TIS service is no longer directional and in some parts of the country is being phased out. TIS-B is part of the FAA NextGEN program but it has a number of limitations. TAS doesn’t require any ground based facilities and provides a number of key benefits. The details were included in the presentation that has been posted to the group site. Whether or not you use a cockpit traffic advisory system we all agreed that we still need to use the Mark I Eyeball.

The last part of the meeting consisted of a trip report by Herb from a flight to several Sierra Mountain airports. The airports included Mammoth (KMMH), Lee Vining (O24) and Bryant airport (O57). Mammoth is the public use airport in California with the highest field elevation. Bryant airport is next to the town of Bridgeport which offers a few places to enjoy a meal before heading back over the Sierra’s to the Bay area. The presentation covered route planning, tips about each airport including the SuperAWOS at Bryant field, weather factors, and places to eat in Bryant.

Coming Up

A key benefit to this group is the opportunity to share information and meet other pilots.  We invite any interested pilot to attend our next meeting.  We meet on the first Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. The group meets in various locations between the San Carlos and Palo Alto airports so please subscribe as detailed below so you will get the latest information.

We have a number of great topics lined up for the next three months. We will be expanding our topics to include areas on instrument flying. Look for the following topics and more in the coming months:

·       Private pilot aeronautical knowledge test taking tips

·       Instrument charts – Jeppesen vs. Aeronav – what are the differences? Advantages and disadvantages?

·       Aviation fuel – a discussion led by a local subject matter expert on aviation fuel and what alternatives for 100LL are on the horizon

·       The Private Pilot Checkride – hear from members about their recent checkride and how they prepared

·       Aircraft ownership – things to know about purchasing an aircraft from members that are owners

Everyone, whatever and wherever they fly is welcome. In addition to some tasty pizza and beverages, you will have a great chance to meet your fellow pilots in an informal setting.

To subscribe to this group, please email: The presentations from past sessions are posted on this group site.

Please contact or if you would like additional information.

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club

Auburn Flyout

The May 17th fly-out to Auburn was a wonderful day with a group of 17 to enjoy lunch at Wings Grille. This Saturday was a lovely mid-spring day with blue skies and mild winds. The Wings restaurant did a great job accommodating our group and served delicious sandwiches and salads on the lattice covered patio, with mid-field views to enjoy pilots taking off and landing while we ate lunch. The group included 6 planes (3 from KPAO, 2 from KSJC and 1 from 1C9).

Another pilot also joined us, driving down from beautiful Lake Tahoe. Luckily we bumped into a few members of the Sutter Buttes Chapter of the 99s who were hosting an event for the Girl Scouts in the terminal building. What a lovely afternoon flying and meeting up with friends and fellow aviators.

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club


After a cool, overcast start to the morning, our Bay Area July weather cleared enough for a group of 14 pilots, students and friends to head up to Ukiah (UKI), where it was a toasty 91 degrees. As the airplanes arrived - from PAO N972TA Sue Ballew with students Steve Green & Heidi Matsuo and passenger Stacey Patton; N65504 (C182) Ioan Iacob and Bogdan Gorbanescu with passenger Jeanne McElhatten; from San Carlos N1322K Peter and Diane Cohan; from OAK (by way of CCR) Cardinal N666RJ with David Newitt & Patti Cobb, we admired a couple of firefighting air tankers and a spotter plane belonging to the Ukiah station of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. While posing for photos in the sun, we saw N380SP with Pete Russell and passengers Chris Hobbs and Albert taxi up, fresh from San Carlos and ready to join the fun.

As Sue went to greet the new arrivals, we looked for the shortest path out of the airport to the main road to the Southwest, to lead us to the Himalayan Cafe and a much-looked-forward-to lunch. Certainly several of us may have been wishing for some nice cool Himalayan weather as we waited on the hot, dry tarmac, discussing whether we could find a gate, or would need to double back to the main entrance - in the heat, we were not eager to take the extra steps. As we stood under some trees deciding to send forth a reconnaissance group, one of the firefighters came out to answer questions and bring us ice-cold bottles of water! These guys got all of our deepest appreciation. And sure enough, we discovered a break in the fence to slip through at the far corner of the airport, so we didn’t have to take the

Long way around after all.


The Cafe, just a short walk down the road, was air conditioned, and we had the place to ourselves. The service was very friendly, if perhaps a little overwhelmed by trying to make so much tasty food at once. The curries were offered at whatever level of spice we wanted and the warm, flavorful breads were soft and puffy. There’s a small stage and sound equipment, and we discovered that some evenings they feature music and dance from their traditions - perhaps a lure for another time. After a fine culinary experience, coupled with lively conversations about travel, music, airplanes, world events and - wouldn’t you know? - flying, we made our way back to our planes and took to the skies, happy for another Saturday well-spent with our favorite things.

Patti Cobb

WOW – Women of West Valley Flying Club

Los Banos

Beautiful weather for the short trip to Los Banos on Saturday, June 21!  4 planes made the trip:  Sue Ballew and Stacey Patton, with students Steve Green and Heidi Binder, in C172 972TA, John Jacob and Bodgan Gorbanescu in C182 N2463S, Penny and Ron Blake in C172 N61606, and Debby Cunningham in a Cub.  Dennis and I arrived by car (my plane had a prior commitment).

I'm not sure whether it was quicker to fly or drive, but we know which is more fun.  The flyers walked across the highway to the Black Bear Diner (formerly Ryan's), where we had lunch.  The restaurant was busy, and both the food and service were excellent, as were the company and the talk of flying.  Don't miss the next fly-in!



Matt Debski, Aircraft Owner WVFC


One day at AirVenture


I wake to the sound of airplane engines.  My day is punctuated with this sound -- enjoyed by AirVenture attendees -- inviting me to look up.  I see the Ford Tri-Motor making one of its circuits of the AirVenture grounds.  It's a fun airplane to watch, the three engines and corrugated fuselage visible from the ground and flying more slowly than I expect for its size.  One of the firmest impressions of my first visit to AirVenture and one of its best aspects is the ever-changing constellation of planes in the sky overhead.

I’m back at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual “convention,” AirVenture.  Held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, its most often referred to as “Oshkosh.”

I grab a copy of the *AirVenture Daily*.  The articles fill me in on what I missed the day before: the FAA Administrator mentioned that third-class medical reform was high on his priority list; a young lady has successfully hitchhiked (or airhiked?) to every state except Hawaii and Alaska and is looking for a ride to the northernmost state.  But more important now is the daily schedule.  There's always more than one thing that I want to do or see at a given moment, so I've got to come up with a rough lineup to make sure I catch what's most interesting.  Many events are on-going or occur multiple times.  I pay most attention to the Forums schedule.  A forum is only 75 minutes long, doesn't repeat, and occurs in a more-remote part of the grounds, requiring some planning to reach.  I make some notes on what I want to be sure to catch.  Then I join the rest of the aviation enthusiasts walking, bussing, bicycling, and riding in golf carts to the entrance gate.

I decide the first thing I'm going to check out is Boeing Square.  It's like the Quad at a college: a large open area in the spiritual center of AirVenture, surrounded on all sides by important and diverse venues.  It's also where the larger showcase aircraft reside.  Dominating the center of the square is a C-17 Globemaster III.  Having been inside a C-17 before, I walk over to the relatively short line to go inside an Osprey.  The crew is on hand to answer questions and I get to peek at the cockpit and spend some time listening to another visitor talking with a crew member before I move on.  I look at the last flying Fairey Gannet, a strange looking airplane, without appreciating what it is.  There are no signs or people to explain it at the moment, so I wander over to the NASA’s WB-57 high-altitude aircraft.  Her crew is available for questions so I talk with an operations specialist for a while about the design of the aircraft and his particular training.  Having spent an hour or so in Boeing Square looking at some outstanding larger planes, it’s time to skedaddle over to the Forums area; I want to hear a talk on rigging Cessnas.

The speaker for the “Cessna Rigging the Key To Speed” forum is a representative from the Cessna Pilot’s Association.  He discusses Cessna rigging at a high level, describing how a post-1976 aircraft failing to make “book speed” can frequently be attributed to rigging problems.  He describes some of the problems. The thrust of the talk, though, is that if a Cessna is flying inexplicably slowly or suffers from uneven fuel feeding or a host of other maladies, having its rigging checked and corrected by a mechanic shop that has gone through their training has a very good chance of resolving the problem.  I’m convinced enough that I end up joining the CPA before leaving Oshkosh.  This particular talk is characteristic of the forums on offer at Oshkosh.  They’re well-presented and sufficiently thought-provoking that I usually try to attend one or two each day I’m at AirVenture.  After the question-and-answer concludes, I wander over to the Homebuilder Kit vendor area.

Given that EAA has a large homebuilding base, the homebuilt and experimental area is filled with enthusiasts.  My ten-year plans include building an airplane with my two sons.  I enjoy wandering the vendor area, dreaming about which kits will fit our family and mission best.  The vendor areas themselves have two or three example aircraft to inspect.  The vendors themselves are eager to talk but not pushy.  I spend some time looking closely (again) at the Sling 4, the current top contender for the family airplane.  It’s a Turbo Rotax powered, four-seat airplane capable of 120 knots on 6 gallons per hour.  The Airplane Factory, its manufacturer, says that no airplane can fulfill every pilot’s needs, but that it believes the Sling 4 will be a Silver Bullet for many.  A few booths down, the SubSonex Personal Jet is fun to look at: a home built jet powered airplane.  The engine itself is smaller than a large coffee urn.  That looks like a lot of fun. Not something that I’m going to build, but its bright-yellow appeal is clear.  After walking up and down both sides of the exhibitors, the sound of high-powered aircraft begins to fill the air.

The daily afternoon air show is a highlight at Oshkosh.  The flightline begins to fill with portable chairs late in the morning and by the time the show starts a front-row seat may be impossible to come by.  But, given that most of the action takes place at least a few hundred feet off the ground, a front-row seat here isn’t as important as other venues.  The air show lineup typically features a military spectacle of some sort, a few solo aerobatic acts, several formation flights, and then some special features.  One of the first performers is an Osprey.  Having gotten an up-close look earlier in the day, watching it demonstrate its unique capabilities completes the picture.  2014 at Oshkosh marked the first year that a military demonstration team performed: the Air Force Thunderbirds performed three shows during the weekend.

The end of the air show marks the end of the day for most AirVenture attendees.  As a camper on the field, I meet up with some WVFC folks for dinner, then head to the Evening Concert, performed on a stage at AeroShell Square.  Tonight it’s Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  I admit I don’t know the aviation connection, but they’ve performed at Oshkosh before.  They play a great, high energy concert.  During the concert, the Veterans Honor Flight returns, coming back on a 737 after a day in Washington, DC.  After the concert, I listen to the Thunderbirds speak a bit about what it’s like to be on the team, with both active Thunderbirds and alumni.  Heading back to my campsite at 11 pm, it’s been a full-day of aviation activity.  I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.