Osh Dreaming

sum to sep 2014 147It’s that time of year when an avgeek’s thoughts turn to airshow season. And you really can’t talk about air shows without talking about EAA Airventure which, as everyone knows, is so much more than just an airshow. I made the pilgrimage to Oshkosh for the first time last year and loved every minute of it. As I begin planning a return trip to Osh this summer, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and share my first impressions from Osh 2014.

Thelma and Louise

Robby T and L

Thelma, Louise and Robby Gordon… from a long time ago.

My traveling companion for last year’s trip was my friend Dianna. (She’s Louise. I’m Thelma.) We’ve been road-tripping together for over ten years now.  Some of our past (mis)adventures include:

– Taking an exit ramp on two wheels. In a Durango.

– Hanging out with Jack Roush (which is quite a story – look for a future post).

– Successfully driving through a drive thru backwards. (Don’t ask.)

– Hanging out at a bar with Robby Gordon and his girlfriend.

– Ending up in a variety of restricted or closed areas we’re not supposed to be in, usually completely unintentionally. Usually.

It should be noted that Dianna is not an avgeek – she agreed to come along to Osh because we always manage to have fun and adventures wherever we go. And what’s Thelma without Louise? I couldn’t imagine making my first trip to Oshkosh without her!

The Drive

I had to work Monday through Thursday of Osh week, so we hit the road Thursday night and stayed at a hotel about half-way.  We left the hotel early Friday morning and decided we’d drive through Chicago on the way to Osh, just for the hell of it.  Yeah, that’s how we roll.  Or actually in this case, didn’t roll – the traffic in Chicago was awful.  Still, I don’t regret it – it had been years since I’d been to Chicago and Dianna had never been. This year, however, we’ll be steering clear.  Except I’m tempted to stop by ORD on the way home just because it’s ORD. But I digress…

Arriving at Osh

sum to sep 2014 051We started seeing the airplanes about 30 miles outside of Osh, at which point I immediately began freaking out.  Thankfully Louise stayed calm which allowed us to actually make it to Osh without ending up in a ditch (but just barely). My first impression upon seeing the grounds was something along the lines of OMG-LOOK-AT-THIS-PLACE-ITS-HUGE-AND-LOOK-AT-ALL-THE-AIRPLANES-HOLY-COW-THE-AIR-SHOW-HAS-STARTED-WOW-I-CANT-BELIEVE-IT-I-AM-SO-EXCITED! Because we arrived late in the afternoon, we ended up parking rather far away.  I have to give a HUGE shout-out to EAA and all the volunteers because we didn’t have any trouble at all getting our wrist bands or finding the right shuttle – and that’s saying a lot because by then I had more or less completely lost my mind.

Through the Gates

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I LOVE big birds!!!

The first thing I saw upon entering the grounds was the Citation display – some of my very favorite business jets! From that moment on I was 100% completely in love with Airventure.  The rest of Friday was a blur. We watched the airshow, checked out some displays and spent time just generally getting our bearings.  After dinner we made our way over to the vintage planes for a while and then we joined in the honor flight festivities. Needless to say, it was pretty late by the time we finally made our way to the hotel.  In fact the manager was about to give up on us. Good thing he didn’t! I would have hated to add “breaking into a hotel” to our list of misadventures.

Day Two

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So much to see and do… mind blown!!! No wonder we lost the car. Yeah… it took half an hour of wandering in the dark but eventually we found it.

I bounced out of bed bright and early, eager to get back to Oshkosh.  Louise needed a bit more prompting. She’s not an avgeek, remember?  But she is a tremendous good sport and we arrived back at Airventure mid-morning.  We had outlined a basic game plan for the day. First off we wanted to find the war birds.  And secondly we wanted to attend a welding class. Yes, you read that correctly – a welding class.

War Birds

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At long last!!!

From the moment we arrived at Airventure on Saturday we were determined to head straight to the war bird area. But then we decided we really had to stop by and see how the One Week Wonder was coming along first. And we had seen some items the day before that we wanted to purchase so we spent a little time in the vendor area. Next thing we knew, several hours had passed and we hadn’t gotten anywhere near the war birds.  Doh!  We resolved to double our efforts! But we couldn’t do it on empty stomachs so we stopped to eat. And we had to visit the college area where the schools were handing out information about their aviation programs (O-H!!! I-O!!!). And then there was just a little more shopping to do. (How on earth does anyone visit Airventure for just a day???) At long last we finally got to see the war birds and they were every bit as awesome as expected.

Welding Class

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You do NOT want us welding anything important. Or anything at all, actually. But this Lincoln Electric bag does look darn good on Louise!

I could have spent the rest of the day checking out the vintage war planes but before we knew it, it was time for welding class.  So we reluctantly said goodbye and headed over to the workshop plaza.  Unsurprisingly, we were late.  Oops!  Fortunately the good folks at Lincoln Electric didn’t seem to mind.  We found seats in the back and dutifully reviewed our packets of material.  The most important thing I learned in welding class is… well OK, I was on complete airplane overload at that point and I don’t remember a darn thing about welding class other than the fact that we attended.  And they gave Louise this really cool bag.

Air Show… Times Two

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Pure Aweseomsauce!

After welding class we settled in for the afternoon air show.  Amazing planes, aerobatics, an Osprey and the Thunderbirds – it doesn’t get any better than that!  Well, how about a night time air show?  Oh hell yeah! Once it got dark we donned our flashing pirate necklaces (because who goes to a night time air show without a flashing pirate necklace?) and waited excitedly for the action to begin. I had never seen an air show at night before and had no idea what to expect. I think the experience can be summed up in three words: A. MAZ. ING!!! It combined all the awesomeness of the day show with fireworks and explosions. Enough said.

Osh 2015

We made the long drive back home on Sunday.  I arrived at my house Sunday night totally exhausted… and completely ready to do it all again! I knew right away that a return trip to Osh was in order – after all, we never got to see the home built or ultralight planes, never made it to the seaplane area, didn’t get to attend Oshbash, failed to visit Camp Bacon… the list goes on and on.  This year the plan is to arrive earlier in the week, stay longer and try to see and do things we missed last year.  And yes, Louise is definitely in.  Hope to see you there!

t and l yes

Never a Dull Day

image1 (2)I’ve heard pilots and air traffic controllers say that one of the things they like about their jobs is that every day is different.  The same can be said about life at the airport.  Well… OK, I admit my accounting responsibilities are fairly routine.  But when it comes to airport operations, you never know what each day might bring.  Here are some of the unusual goings-on I’ve experienced over the last few months:

Fire Alarms

I’ve had to deal with more fire alarms at work in the last four months than in my entire working life prior to the airport.  And we’re not talking those run-of-the-mill fire alarms you might remember from school.  No, this alarm is ear-shatteringly obnoxious AND includes flashing lights as well.  Thankfully the alarm is always followed by an announcement on the intercom letting us know whether we really have to evacuate or not.  So far I’ve only had to evacuate once. Actually, since our evacuation route takes us out onto the apron, I wouldn’t mind evacuating more often. And if I just happen to drive away on the motorized stairs, I promise it will be for safety reasons.

Emergencies Outside

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In a recent two week period the airport comm center responded to just over 1200 requests for police/fire!

I see and hear emergency vehicles out on the airfield quite often. Once I saw them head over to the FBO to deal with a small fire. And once I saw several fire trucks waiting near the end of the runway for a plane to land, then they followed it back to the terminal. Unfortunately my airport is not currently covered by LiveATC.net and my poor, ancient scanner isn’t working, so I haven’t able to listen in to the tower or emergency channels.

Police Incidents

A myriad of small things happen every day that require police attention.  For the most part I don’t see or hear anything about them. There was, however, one major incident that happened in January involving a man with a knife who tried to buy tickets with a fake ID. The airport was placed on lockdown and some flights were delayed while the man’s car was searched for explosives. If you’re concerned about my safety, let me put your mind at ease – the accounting department is tucked safely away in a reasonably secure location where nothing can reach us… except an out of control jet careening across the taxiways.  But what are the chances?

Mechanical Problems

The airport is currently undergoing a major renovation which sometimes requires the electricity to be shut off in certain areas. To minimize disruptions, these outages are scheduled for late at night after the last flight has landed.  Unfortunately, after one of these planned outages the baggage system for Concourse B failed to come back online.  Oops! As a result, crews had to load bags onto tugs, drive them to Concourse A, screen them, drive them back to B, sort them, and then, finally, load them onto the appropriate airplanes.  As you might imagine, this slowed down the process quite a bit.  Fortunately they were able to get the issue fixed and the baggage system operational again within just a few hours. I volunteered to ride the baggage carousel just to confirm everything was functioning properly but was told it wasn’t necessary.  Darn!



Snow blows across the runway on a cold, blustery day in February.

You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes and it will change!” This is very true in my part of the midwest.  Snow one moment, then freezing rain, then rain, then freezing rain, then snow again, then finally it clears but the wind kicks in and gusts up to 20mph… and that’s just getting from my car to the shuttle pick up in the morning! In the summer you can substitute hail for freezing rain and thunderstorms for snow.  Suffice it to say Airfield Maintenance often has their hands full keeping the runways and taxiways open.


As an employee I can access the concourses without having to go through the full  TSA screening.  That said, however, the TSA often does spot screenings.  Usually this involves checking my badge to make sure that I am who I claim to be and that I have authorized access.  Recently, however, they also tested my hands for explosive residue. What the heck do they think is going on down in accounting?


Passengers come in all shapes and sizes and in all kinds of interesting outfits. (Really? You’re getting onto an airplane wearing THAT?)  Most of the people I see are your typical business travelers and families.  However I’ve also seen many sports teams (some of which arrived on cool charter airplanes), spring break and Mardi Gras party-goers, hockey all-stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic body building competitors, Final Four tournament attendees and even team mascots.



I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying!

What movie wouldn’t be complete without a scene in the airport?  Just ask John Travolta.  The producer of the movie that Travolta is currently filming decided to pick the busiest day of the week, the busiest time of day and the busiest location in the entire airport to try to film unnoticed. No, I wasn’t supposed to take a picture.  Yes, I did anyway.  And yes there’s a chance my backside might have made its film debut as I departed the area.  But more likely I’ll end up on the cutting room floor.  Oh well – that’s just life at the airport!

Useless Airport Trivia

IMG_3387Airports are where airplanes take off and land and taxi around, which automatically makes them cool and interesting places.  Believe it or not, however, airplanes aren’t the only interesting things at the airport.  Over the last few months I’ve collected several random tidbits of information about my airport that I thought would be fun to share. Please note – although this is being posted on April Fools day, the information below is true to the best of my knowledge.


Yes, that’s a house just off the north runway.

1. The CEO lives on the airport property. In fact, she’s got a lovely view of the north runway from her house and she apparently gets clearance to drive across the airfield to work each day. I’m told that state law requires the CEO to live at the airport, although I have no idea why. If anything were to happen she has lots of people on site at any given time to deal with it.

2. De-icing fluid runs into tanks where it is mixed with water. It must be diluted to a certain level before it can be released.

3. I’ve counted 18 security cameras between the shuttle drop-off and my desk. There are probably many more cameras than that – these are just the ones I can see.

4. The airport has its own police force. The members go through all the same training as the state police, but they are an entirely separate entity.


There is neither a button nor a door here, so your delay is likely to be quite a bit longer than 2 seconds.

5. A few years ago the airport built a brand-new ATC tower to go along with the new runway. However, they did not demolish the old ATC tower and I wondered why. It turns out the old tower is used by Air Field Maintenance to monitor runway and apron conditions. I am, of course, plotting to storm the tower and turn it into my personal airport viewing space… I mean office.

6. An airline (which shall remain nameless) once left a plane with mechanical issues sitting at one of the gates for 18 days. That’s right- 18 DAYS. And yes, they do get charged for parking.

7. There are 23 escalators and one moving walkway at the airport. I wanted to ride them all and time myself to see how long it would take, however several are not operating at the moment due to construction.

8. There is a Starbucks on every concourse. Well of course there is. There’s a Starbucks on every street corner, so why not every concourse?

9.The airport actually does have courtesy phones.  Unfortunately for Captain Oveur they only come in one color: red. (Yes, people do get paged to pick up the red courtesy phone. I can’t help laughing every time!)


Sorry this pic is a little blurry. Had to take it on the sly for obvious reasons.

10. There are several K9s who work for the airport detecting drugs and explosives. I see them from time to time – usually in the early mornings when the airport isn’t too busy. I suspect most of the time they’re working in the baggage area. They are gorgeous animals and even though I am sooo tempted to pet them, I would never do so. If you see a K9 at the airport, you should assume it is on the job and leave it alone.

11. The airport has a bicycle cop.  He rides a Trek.  I have seen him in various places around the airport.  Hoping to see him ride up/down the escalators one of these days!


Gorgeous clouds make for a beautiful morning at the airfield.