Varieze approaching Fisk, rock your wings

Off to Oshkosh! first time to fly in. An hour late but now that I’m off the ground, things are calming down a little. Not going to make it before the airshow starts. Climbing out through 5500, heading for 12.5 thousand feet.

Oil temp gauge says it’s time to level off and pull the power back to cruise for a few minutes. When I get back home, that latest oil cooling duct will go in the reject pile. The new cooling idea is good, lucky # 13, I hope.

Oshkosh- dead ahead, 914 miles, 5 hours on the GPS. Now is the time to remember whatever I left sitting in the hangar. OK, let’s climb again. Power- up, and nose trim- back. Wonder if I can get to 12.5 K without another oil cooling level-off.

1997 is my first trip over this route, with three more in a row to come. Each year I’m amazed how many rivers and lakes there are along the east border of Oklahoma.

A couple of hours north, it’s fascinating to be flying northeast over this Mississippi River industrial area on the of Iowa and Illinois border. Wonder what life is like down there and who lives in that house right…there.

Crossing into Wisconsin.

The air show won’t be over for awhile. Think I’ll stop for a sandwich.

Nice airport. The cab driver is also the Mayor. He drives a Cadillac. He asks what kind of snack I’m looking for and suggests a local establishment for the sandwich I describe.

He says when I’m ready to walk across to the courthouse square. I sit on the bench in the shade for only a couple of minutes before he pulls up. I mark the airport on the map as a good stopover. Great sandwich; lots of green and yellow football jerseys.

Coming up on Ripon!

Where is the line of planes making the entry? That’s my plan, to slide into the line behind folks who know where they’re going. Where are they. It’s coming up quick. Hope that’s Ripon up there. GPS says it is. Sure is quiet.

The FAA guy speaks up and asks for a radio check from any one inbound to Ripon. A Luscomb answers, twenty miles out. The controller says no one had called in a while and he’s making sure about his equipment working. I set the holding instructions aside.

Here we are! No one ahead. Swing over and follow the tracks. There are the strobes…

"VariEze approaching Fisk, rock you wings…"

I rock the wings. He makes a comment about the straight wings and says to continue. He’s good.

"Proceed, follow the entry, expect runway 27, when approaching the Blue Water Tower contact Oshkosh Tower, frequency…"

There’s the blue water tower, switching the hand-held… dadgummit, punching the handheld again…

"…VariEze on downwind for 27, rock your wings!"

I rock ‘em.

"…VariEze- turn base now… good… cleared to land runway 27, caution multiple aircraft on the runway."

Banking through the turn, holding 85 mph, through the 90…

There are lots off planes on that runway!

Turning final, two taxiing on, two holding, two rolling, two lifting off… what the heck!...if there’s any room there I don’t see it! What’s the go around procedure…?

Power- up, don’t climb- a Cessna coming from the left, another Cessna just above him, slide through, climb now…

"…VariEze, yeah, good idea… continue your climb and turn, you are now Right Base for 18, switch to Tower frequency…"

Punch the handheld, try to get it right on the first try this time…

"…VariEze turning final for 18, continue, cleared to land 18, caution T-28s on takeoff roll…"

Way too exciting.

All outside.

All by attitude.

There is no time to think about flying the airplane.

If you gotta think about it, it’s too late.

The next year the entry is straight in to 09, snake-turning big behind a 60 mph TriPacer and his perfect short field approach.

The third year the entry is overcast and hazy. Just cleared past Fisk, a wrong-way retreating red Taylorcraft boresights me. The rudders are used to avoid him. I don’t know if he even saw me.

The forth year is a tame landing on 18. Nothin’ to this Oshkosh stuff.

Departing Oshkosh ‘97

Hope it’s easier departing than the bee hive entry was a few days ago.

During preflight a stranger watches silently as I answer questions on a map about speed and range, pointing out some of the trips across the country. He asks me who gives me permission to fly to all these places.

Starts on the fourth pull. Thank goodness.

Orange-vested paddles pull us up on the runway. The T-18 on the left gets his wave and is rolling. There’s my wave. Thanks guys!

Instruments good. Cool. Here we go.

Off and now one-twenty mph… hold level here to clear under and past the T-18.

Now one-forty mph and swerve a little left for a Cessna…

A little lower and right around the Swift…

There’s a bunch of ‘em ahead, stay a little low at eight hundred fifty feet and one-sixty mph past the hovering Luscomb,

Slide effortlessly below and left of the Bonanza…

Everyone loves a parade. I’m surrounded here by a floating, ever-expanding wave of sparkling beautiful airplanes. If you focus just right, they seem to drift backward above the lush green Wisconsin landscape, spreading out around this bristling white steed as we gently plow ahead.

Ten miles out, it’s OK to climb now, …thirty-one airplanes later.

They say it ain’t braggin if you’re doin it.

Bill James, Fort Worth VariEze

To convert to technical data, multiply above values by -1.09. 

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