AirVenture 2001

AirVenture, 2001
By Jack Welsch


Click on ThumbnailIntroduction

This was my second year for AirVenture. I had so much fun last year that, when Ed and Ron invited me to come again, I had to give it another shot. Last year, the show started on Wednesday and we left the Sunday morning before. This year, EAA backed it up a day so we figured we'd do the same except we figured that, rather than leave early Saturday morning and drive straight through, we'd leave right after work on Friday and sleep somewhere overnight.

Friday, 7/20/01

Off we go!I left work at 4:30 and stopped for a part for my bike at a shop in Kingston. Ron had gone to help Ed prepare the motor home. A few blocks short of Ron's house, the motor home pulled in front of me at a stop sign. Things are coming together! We loaded the motor home and pulled out at 5:58, exactly two minutes ahead of what we'd planned! Ed drove and, creature of habit that he is, we stopped at an Iron Skillet near Milton. After dinner, Ed and Ron shared the driving and I crashed on the couch. Around 1:30, I finally took the wheel but I only drove until 3:00. I was rested and could have kept going but we'd agreed we'd take a short break and, if we waited much longer, it'd be daylight. I pulled into a truck stop and we planned to sleep for about 3 hours. It was really a pretty poor sleep as the noise of trucks was deafening. Stopping was definitely not a great idea!

Saturday, 7/21/01

Problems on the road!We finally gave up trying to sleep at 6:00, exactly on schedule again. We showered in the RV, grabbed coffee and breakfast sandwiches to go in the truck stop and I climbed into the left seat at 7:00 with Ron in the right. At 11:00, Ed rotated to the left sat and drove the rest of the way to OSH. In Indiana, we started having trouble with the generator cutting out. Since the motor home's A/C works only off the generator and since it was HOT, this was a major concern. We stopped several times to mess with it and finally replaced the air filter in Vernon Hills, IL. That was the end of the problem.

Friar Tuck'sWe arrived at OSH at 6:15 and went directly to Friar Tuck's for dinner. After stocking up at Wal-Mart and Piggly-Wiggly, we check into the campgrounds at 9:15. Got camp set up, had a few drinks, and hit the rack at 1:30.

Sunday, 7/22/01

We were up at 6:30, showered in the public showers, had breakfast and took the bikes to the flight line. It was hot as hell and humid. We walked along 18/36 to the warbird area and back but the heat was debilitating so we retreated to camp and the A/C. At 11:30, we took the bikes to Friar Tuck's for lunch. As we were leaving, some guy was walking towards the restaurant talking on a cell phone. He was very upset and yelling, "I don't know, there's not a room anywhere in town. Some kind of experimental aircraft something." The three of us burst out laughing at the same time. He was a huge guy but fortunately, the door had closed behind him by then.

As we started towards camp, we noticed a huge black cloud off to the west and the wind was blowing up. We poured on the coal against a strong headwind. We beat the rain but by the time we got to camp the wind had already damaged the awning we'd left up. About 4 feet of it was ripped from the track but, fortunately, the fabric was intact. After sitting out a ferocious storm, we repaired the wind damage. After cleaning up, we had some cocktails, then took the motor home to the China Buffet near Target for dinner. Back at camp, we sat outside for a while but the bugs forced us inside for our nightcaps.

Monday, 7/23/01

Best Seats in the House!Up at 6:30 again but this time we showered in the motor home. We took the chairs, rode the bikes down, and set up near the VOR to watch planes land on 27.Tri-MotorAbout 11:45 a huge storm approached again so we hightailed it to the Warbird Café for lunch. We just beat the rain and sat with some nice guys from Boston. Just as we finished eating, the rain stopped so we walked through the fly market a while, then took the bikes back to camp. Since we had a new neighbor who was all alone in the RV next to us, we invited him over for snacks and drinks. I think Bill was a bit put off by our happy-go-lucky attitude. We'd planned on taking the motor home to dinner again but we all agreed we'd had too much to drink so we took the bikes. Actually, none of us drink a lot at other times but at Oshkosh, it seems the thing to do. Dinner was brats and beer at the Char Pit. KaraokeThey were doing karaoke. Most people were horrible but Ed brought the house down with "New York, New York" and "My way".

There was still some light left after dinner so we took the bikes onto the flight line looking for Ron & Ed's friend Alan but without success. Got some chow and other supplies at Piggly Wiggly and headed home. Settled for water as a nightcap.

Tuesday, 7/24/01

MuseumThis was the first actual show day. We were up at 6:45 and biked to the EAA museum for a lecture on the Iditerod Airforce by David Sakrison. He was fantastic. Swung by camp to pick up the packs, then headed for the grounds, getting there about 11:00. Did the four big exhibit buildings and most of the fly market before wearing out. Biked back to camp and took the motor home to Friar Tuck's. After eating we got gas and almost immediately the vehicle started to run roughly. We picked up water, dropped the waste and went back to camp. Ed started tearing into the engine to change plugs while Ron and I took the bikes to Wal-Mart for dry gas, gas treatment and carb cleaner. Both of us were convinced it was the gas because of the correlation.

When we got back, Ed had replaced several plugs but several wires had broken at the terminals. Ed called the Auto Zone near Friar Tuck's and the guy said they had the wires and would be open until 9:00. It was 8:30 already so Ron and I hopped back on the bikes and hustled over. Ed called on the mobile and asked me to get a cap and rotor as well. We made it a few minutes before 9:00 but the guy said he was going to wait for us anyway!

As Ed tried to install the rotor he discovered the coil was not included even though the old one had the coil pretty permanently installed in the cap. In all, he had a hell of a time; that engine was definitely not meant to be worked on!

Wednesday, 7/25/01

B-1'sWe were up at 7:15, got ready and drove south on 41 to see if the engine was OK. It wasn't. We took it to Car Rx across from Wal-Mart 'cause I'd seen a sign indicating they fixed RV's. They don't do them any more but never took the sign down! They recommended Quent's, a mile or so away over the bridge. Quent said it sounded like ignition. He said he was booked but, if we left it, he'd try to fit it in. We drove back to camp, loaded up the bikes and returned to Quent's, then rode the bikes to the entrance near 09 and looked at warbirds for a while. We were just discussing the B-1 fly-by and wondering when it was when everyone started looking at the approach for 36. Suddenly two B-1's came screeching across on a low pass. They did a total of three passes. Nifty!

Fly MarketTook the bikes over to the China Buffet for lunch, then returned to the fly market. I bought a shirt and pants plus some Cleco fasteners for work. Next we went to the expo buildings and I bought a lead/acid battery for my telescope plus some small stuff. AirshowBy the time we came out of there, the airshow was in progress so we walked over and I ended up about 6 feet from the ribbon. Great show.

Ed called Quent and was told they had it fixed so we rode back there. After paying Quent $195, we found the engine as bad as ever! We added some gas treatment (we'd added dry gas the night before), then drove to Wal-Mart to return a mirror we didn't use and to Auto Zone to return the cap and rotor. With the blessing of the guy at Auto-Zone, we left the RV there and walked to the Char Pit. Lots of folks made a fuss over Ed as a result of his kareoke fame. Drove back and had our nightcaps. Weather has turned downright cool!

Thursday, 7/26/01

UltralightsWe were up at 7:00 and pretty well broke camp. I tried on my new pants and found the guy had given me XL when I needed large. Ed tried them on and decided to keep them and but me a new pair. Camp SchollerRode down and walked the flight line for a while, then headed for the fly market to get the pants. They no longer had what I'd bought so I had to take something slightly different. Ed did some shopping for the family, then we went to see the classics and the ultralights. They also feature sport helicopters there and they were flying gyro-copters and helicopters. Watched a while, then back to the classics. We saw the C-17 pushing back so we sat for a while hoping it'd take off but it didn't so we had some burgers and fries, then headed for camp around 2:30.

Dick RutanAfter finishing breaking camp, we took the bikes to the museum. As we walked in, Dick Rutan was giving a lecture on the flight of the Voyager so we listened to him for a while, then walked through the museum. Biked back, stopping on the way for a refund for the unused campsite days. Loaded the bikes, showered, picked up water, dropped waste and set off for home at 4:45 with Ed driving.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel near Racine for dinner then got through Chicago without incident.

Friday, 7/27/01

I took a nap, then woke at 1:00 and rode shotgun with Ed until 2:00. At 2:00 we were just west of Toledo and I started driving with Ron in the right seat and Ed sleeping on the couch. Ed woke and rode shotgun 'til we stopped for coffee, then we switched and Ed drove until breakfast, giving me a little break in the right seat. After breakfast, I drove again until we got into a tie-up around Milton. Ed took it home from there. We got to Ron's about 1:15. Great trip again this year! Thanks, guys!!