Doh! – as Homer says!

Late last night I had this huge sinking feeling. I had completely forgotten to organise accommodation for our Oshkosh staging post of Mineral Point. I had identified a few trouble spots for accommodation but forgot that one. Evidently we weren’t the only ones who though staging for Oshkosh at MRJ was a good idea. It was 23:00 and there was nothing to be had at either MRJ or our fuelling alternate of Vinton (VTI). We needed another plan.

While we were throwing ideas around, Darryn mentioned Appleton. It was our OSH alternate and our hotel was there. That made sense so that was what we decided and went to sleep knowing we had a plan.

I had considered just going straight to OSH but it wasn’t my favourite idea. I did think that accommodation at our Oshkosh hotel at Appleton would however be easy to get. Anyone who hadn’t booked for Saturday and Sunday already wouldn’t likely want it since from Monday it’s going to be chockablock! I was right.

Another 06:00 wake up (another new timezone too) and we drove the Buick out to Council Bluffs Municipal for our departure.

Piece of crap!

I fished the remains of the fuel cap out with the magnet I bought the day before in about 1 minute. Piece of crap. Darryn pre-flighted and I filed for ATW. We fired up and at pretty much right on the dot of 08:00 local the wheels were in the air. Density altitude less of a problem this time and e little plane lifted of a lot more enthusiastically than the last few days.

I had wedged a bottle cap into the rubber remains of the fuel cap but unfortunately it moved slightly on liftoff we had a fairly strong smell of gas from the rear tank briefly. It wouldn’t have leaked much out but it doesn’t take much to make a lot of smell. The rubber remains was actually sealing quite well but it has a hole in the middle for the rest of the crap. I’ve got a better idea for next time but there won’t be a full tank for OSH so it won’t be an issue and I’ve got a new one coming for then. For now I just switched straight to the back and burnt it down so it wouldn’t squirt anything through the hole.

We turned Northeast and started our climb for 5500′ to take advantage of favourable winds at that level. As we climbed through about 2000′ we went through a marked temperature inversion. It had been about 21 on the ground but once we popped up the temperature shot up to 29. Weird. We see them in winter at home all the time but I never really considered you could get them at high temperatures.

Next we checked in with Columbus Flight Service to open our flight plan and were advised there was a forecast for large convective activity just to the North West of out track. Those suckers were forecast up to over 45,000′. Hope they stay there!

A we tracked toward Appleton the engine was showing very slight signs of not being completely happy. About every 15 minutes or so it would have a little misfire. I fiddled with the mixture but it never really settled. It wasn’t so bad that we considered a diversion appropriate but it does grab more attention than is preferable. Still, as Darryn said, rather here than over the Nevada and Arizona Deserts.

Time moved on, scenery very similar to the latter stages of yesterday. Flat terrain, mainly farms, but slowly getting greener. Just like Duane said it would.

The sky was a high Grey overcast looking darker to the left and forward. Great, the convective activity was staying put. In fact weather wise the flight was great. Still the engine wasn’t that happy.


Was crossed the great Mississippi river. Derwood took a few photos although the light wasn’t great. I wasn’t really super keen to circle for photos as I really just wanted to press on and get the unhappy bird on the ground and get it sorted out. It’s funny when these little things happen you listen so closely it can seem worse than it actually is. Still better to be aware than not right!

We got to our top of descent point, nosed over and started a high speed descent into Appleton. There was a couple of planes around but nothing startling and we could see Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport of to the right. We were looking straight down runway 11.

We got a speedy clearance direct to a right base for runway 30 and the wheels kissed at 10:13 local.

I decided I’d prefer the FBO as opposed to the grass parking spot in order to get an A&P take a look at the machine, so the very helpful Ground controller guided us to the maintenance facility.  As we parked I ran it up and turned the mags off in turn. Sure enough, with the left magneto off it ran like a bag of .. Well you know what I mean! The engine monitor showed Cylinder 4 cooling down so we most likely had a bad or fouled plug in the lower slot on #4.

I shut down and the line guy advised nobody was around for the weekend for maintenance.. Good one.. Does anybody know Airventure is about to start? No big deal. I had a spare plug so I swapped it, ran it up and it was back to smooth on both mags.

We called ground and received a clearance to cross to the grass parking area to be the very first aircraft to arrive at Outagamie’s regional Airport for Airventure. The marshallers were very friendly so we had to get their photos.

Fun folk.
The First One! Heeeeellllllooooooo

We tied down and got the transport to our hotel.

Tomorrow is our big day. Arrival into Oshkosh for Airventure 2012!!!

Published by falcogeorge

I live in New Zealand with my lovely wife Vicki along with our animals on a block of land in Helensville. Back in 1994 I had this crazy idea to build a plane. Since then its been a huge part of my life. My day job has varied over the years. I started out as a computer engineer and now I'm an airline pilot. You would think that would tire me of flying but airline flying isn't really flying. The small planes are fun and make me remember why I started flying in the first place. This blog is a demonstration of some of the crazy ideas that pop into my head from time to time. The way I see it, life is too short to not give these wild ideas a go. I don't mind if people think I'm crazy. I probably am.

2 thoughts on “Doh! – as Homer says!

  1. Very cool – how exciting – only one day to go and only one week into the trip…so much in such a short space of time. Great shots – love them

  2. It’s funny how the ones with the furtherist to go arrive first. I guess that trip caused you a little angst but you had it sorted in no time. So the big day is about to arrive, we will be thinking of you, have a great time. I have loved catching up about very aspect of your trip. Enjoying Darryn’s posts also.

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