Well, day 1 of my first ever experience of Air Venture in Oshkosh Wisconsin is behind me. However, very present in my mind is the sunburn on my lower legs and tops of my arms. Before the trip I researched and purchased a Canadian hat to shield me from the sun, wild beasts, and attack ninjas. I now realize I may have subconsciously assumed the hat contained magical powers which it most certainly does not. Also swirling ever-present in my head is the myriad of airplanes that were on display. Yeah, I’d read the statistics, but those numbers aren’t the same as walking past rows and endless rows of meticulously maintained warbirds.
Everyone sees things in their own way… regardless, I am certain most pilots would nod in the affirmative regarding the sense of freedom found in flying. VFR flight, in particular, has in its essence a strong freeing quality.
While flying visually, you don’t need most of the instruments; through sight picture and pilotage you can successfully get where you aim. This freedom can be the sort that relieves stress, helps realign your overall perspective, and points you toward a sense of adventure— lifting you out of the mundane. Furthermore, if you love the mountains, combining aviation and the wonder of our national granite scapes — well that’s about as good as it gets.
To be a licensed pilot and fly on the airlines feels odd. After all, you can check the weather, look up the flight plan on Flight Aware, and plot it all out — but you have no control — at all, which is probably best. Okay, you can’t fly the plane but you can get a window seat! For this flight, the window will reveal the earth between Texas and Oregon. In late February 2014, we traveled to Oregon with sister and brother-in-law. My wife and I had been there a couple years prior, and were stunned by it’s beauty, so much so, we returned with family.
We found the Pacific Northwest to be a rather magical place. From Portland, for instance, you can quickly be on the coast, in the mountains, before waterfalls — the beauty is rather obsurd.
For the past few years, my friend Kenny has listened to me tell all manner of tales about flying. Given that he knows how deeply I enjoy flying, Kenny will, at times, look for opportunities where my skills can be of use. Over the years there have been several scenarios discussed wherein aviation might be helpful to Kenny or someone he knows. I flew a mutual friend of ours to a nearby airport one evening; I wrote about that in,“The Plane Was Made To Be Airborne.”
Kenny is one of the busiest people I’ve ever met. He had a scheduling conflict which put him in danger of missing a family member’s wedding. Harken the aero plane! Upon hearing of his predicament, I planned a flight to see what would be involved in the two hour journey. Initially, it appeared the weather on the way down would be pretty nice VFR. We’d stay overnight and promptly return the following day. Kenny is a busy dude, and doesn’t loiter, dawdle or frolic. Well, he may frolic a bit. I’m sure he’ll let me know. The return flight home, although nice, would beIFR for the first part of the flight.
The Homebuilt, the Puking — Oh the Puking
There was one little issue regarding the trip and it wasn’t weather related. This anomaly involved Kenny’s late uncle, Dale Milford, a WWII aviator, later a meteorologist, and a congressman. He even built his own plane. It’s registered as the Milford Buckaroo.
How in the great big earth could that affect our trip? Well, it involves a sick sac and that Buckaroo. When Kenny was nine, his Uncle Dale took him flying in that plane. What he remembers most is the wild and persistent vomiting. If you’ve ever experienced “wild and persistent vomiting,” it isn’t something you want to experience again — ever. According to Kenny, this involved multiple episodes of sickenss in the air and even after landing. Oh, and one small detail — Kenny hadn’t flown in a small plane since. That was 40 years ago.