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Tips for Your First Oshkosh Camping Experience

by Tori Williams 2. August 2017 12:30
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Ever wondered what it would be like to fly into Oshkosh for AirVenture and camp under the wing of your aircraft? Have you thought of doing it before but not known what to expect? I am here to answer any questions you may have about flying in, camping out, and making the most of Aviation’s Greatest Celebration!

A little background about myself: I have been to Oshkosh a total of four times, three of which I flew in and camped beside the plane. That is by no means anywhere near as many times as most Oshkosh attendees. In fact, I met a man this year who said it was his 42nd consecutive year at the fly-in. Now that is impressive! I am a novice, but I was new to camping my first year and there are certainly things I wish I had known beforehand. So here is my complete beginners guide to airplane camping at Oshkosh!

Some financial information upfront: two adult weekly wristbands ($123 each for EAA members) plus 9 nights of camping ($27 a day) will cost just shy of $500. You do get a refund on camping if you do not stay the whole 9 days, and the only major cost you should have left after that is food. Buses are available to take you on Target runs which help to avoid the typically overpriced food offered on the grounds. Overall this can be a very affordable vacation if you plan it out well.

Step One:

Pack Appropriately.

Obviously, what you are able to pack depends a lot on what type of aircraft you are flying in. The first year I had the opportunity to fly into Oshkosh with my husband we flew in a Stinson 10A. That little plane couldn’t haul a third person, let alone a tent, chairs, luggage, and all of our supplies for the week. We ended up having to have my father-in-law carry most of our supplies in his plane which was able to carry much more. You also have the option of mailing your supplies in and picking them up once you get there, if that seems like a better option. Just remember, you’ll have to mail them back or throw them away! Some items I could not live without during the week include: sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, a shower tote, shower shoes, and a medium sized backpack. Don’t forget regular items such as toiletries, sheets, pillows, and a few warm blankets. It can get extremely cold at night. Bring enough shampoo and conditioner to shower every night, even if you don’t feel like it. Believe me, the week will go by much smoother if you go to bed clean every night.

Step two:

Arrive Gracefully.

Read the NOTAM! Believe it or not, there are actual real pilots that attempt to fly into AirVenture without reading the arrival procedures NOTAM. One such pilot was ahead of us on our arrival in this year. He kept asking his buddy over the radio what he was supposed to do. It’s embarrassing and inefficient. It takes literally 10 minutes to review and get an idea of what is expected of you when you arrive at Ripon. Print it out, highlight the frequencies, and get ready to rock your wings when they ask you! Make sure you have your sign with you to signal the ground crew where you need to go. Follow their instructions and take up any grievances with your parking location with the appropriate personnel after you have shut down the engine. Screaming out the window at a volunteer who is just following someone else’s’ instructions won’t get you anywhere.

Step Three:

Set up Your “Home Base.”

I personally think it is important to enjoy the place that you return to every night. We have had great luck with bringing an air mattress and setting it up inside our (slightly oversized) tent. If you do not have access to a battery or generator for the week, there are plenty of outlets where you can blow the mattress up and return it to your tent. I saw this happen more than once, and it is totally worth it to have a comfy bed. I suggest bringing a lantern, cooler, and any other “extras” that would add to your experience camping. Things can get messy and disorganized very quickly in a tent environment, so having a system for where you put dirty clothes, shoes, etc. will also be beneficial.

Step Four:

Scope out Your Amenities.

It is important to know the location and availability of the amenities closest to your campsite. EAA has been very good about providing hot showers, charging stations, drinking water, porta pots and mirrors to their campers at several locations throughout the grounds. The showers are usually in the form of giant trailers with doors that open to individual changing rooms and curtains covering the shower portion. I have had no issues in the past being in Vintage camping, however, this year they did not provide any sinks in the South 40 portion. I had to take a bus and a tram to get to any kind of sink. That made the week difficult, as I wash my face with soap every single morning. I had to get creative and carry my facewash with me as I got on the bus to reach the main area, where I would stop off and wash at the nearest sinks in Vintage. This might not be important for your situation, but getting a good idea of where your amenities are before it gets dark will help a lot.

Step Five:

Have fun!

I know that it sounds cliché, but having fun and enjoying the week is the ultimate goal here. Get to know your neighbors, walk around and see everything you possibly can, and take time to simply appreciate how big and wonderful EAA AirVenture has become. I know of a lot of people who consider it the best week of the year, and it is certainly easy to find something interesting to learn or see.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for first-time campers at Oshkosh! As always, I am already looking forward to next year!

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Flying | Airports | Tori Williams

Thoughts From The National Waco Club Reunion Fly-in

by Tori Williams 2. July 2017 12:30
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Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an aviation event that truly inspired me. The 58th annual National Waco Club Reunion was held at Wynkoop Airfield in Mount Vernon, Ohio. My husband and his father have flown into this particular fly-in for several years. This was my first year being able to join them, and I am so glad that I did.

Our trip to Wynkoop was a little over 200 nautical miles. We arrived Thursday evening and did our best to prepare for the incoming thunderstorms on Friday. The rain definitely hit full force and pilots were grounded for the majority of the day. Thankfully all was not lost, and the skies opened up to beautiful sun and favorable winds on Saturday. It was the perfect weather and a great backdrop to the 22 unique Waco aircraft that flew in.

There were several factors that made this fly-in so special. First, the majority of the Waco aircraft flown in are project planes that have been meticulously restored from the ground up. The passionate aviators who have dedicated thousands of hours to their planes aim to honor historical accuracy. These are friends that go back decades and have watched the progress of each other’s projects over time. They call it a reunion for a reason!

Second, the pilots at this fly-in wanted to do just that – fly! At any point in the day there would be several beautiful biplanes whirling around the field, doing low passes, and occasionally taking the lucky passenger for a ride. I like this aspect better than events like AirVenture because you are able to go up whenever you’d like, whereas it can be difficult to get into the air at AirVenture if you aren’t in an airshow.

The third special thing about the National Waco Club Reunion is the locals who come out to see the planes. They are always respectful and curious about general aviation. Unlike some fly-ins where the public seems to come just for the entertainment value, these people have a much deeper passion and respect for the work that goes into restoring and maintaining these aircraft.

An important part of every fly-in is the food that is available. There was a hearty breakfast served Saturday as pilots prepared for the day ahead. In the afternoon attendees enjoyed brats, burgers, and hotdogs with all of the fixings. Another great option was the homemade ice cream food truck parked outside the FBO. The Saturday night banquet was especially delicious and the catered buffet was served on the field!

The fly-in is not heavily publicized in the area. Locals just know that near the end of June the biplanes will come in, and they will show up after they see them flying around town. I had a good experience with every single person that I interacted with from the town of Mount Vernon. They were enthusiastic about the airplanes and we had several of them thank us for coming to town.

My husband especially enjoyed taking the locals up for rides during the fly-in. He said it’s important to him to show people that aviation is a lot more than a way to get from point A to point B. General aviation is more than a hobby, but rather a lifestyle for many. The more that the general public knows about it, the more they will be willing to support pilots and airports in legal matters they may have a voice in. Giving a face to general aviation and the people who enjoy it is an important mission for both of us.

Overall this fly-in was a great experience and I highly recommend attending in the future. The enthusiasm and zeal for aviation shared by the pilots is very clear as soon as you step onto the field. This fly-in truly serves as a great example of success for all other types of aviation events.

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Flying | Tori Williams | Vintage Aircraft

Top 5 Reasons YOU Should go to EAA AirVenture This Year

by Tori Williams 2. June 2017 16:21
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I am excited to report that we are officially less than two months away from the start of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017! Dubbed “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” AirVenture is hosted annually by the Experimental Aircraft Association near the end of July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year the dates run from July 24th -30th. I have been lucky to be able to attend Oshkosh three times before, including flying in twice.

One thing that has surprised me while studying aviation in college is that very few of my classmates have gone to AirVenture. A few of them had not even heard of it before! I am here to tell you about how AirVenture is a must-do for any aviation enthusiast, and how it can be affordable and fun for anyone – including college students!

(Note for the pilots: Maybe you have been going to Oshkosh for years, but have never tried to fly in. This year you should consider pushing yourself and flying in! It may seem overwhelming at first but the tower and ground personnel are extremely skilled at helping first-timers during their entrance. Read up on the NOTAM and imagine the sense of accomplishment you will when you can proudly say you flew into AirVenture!)

Without further ado, here are my top five reasons you should visit Oshkosh this year.

1. It’s Affordable

One of the biggest reasons my college friends haven’t been to AirVenture is because they think that it is not affordable. Let me tell you, EAA has thought about that. They want as many people as possible to experience the week so they have made ways for even the most frugal people to come. Although the cost of admission and camping out usually add up to less than the cost of one Spring Break trip, EAA also has a whole host of opportunities for visitors to volunteer during the week and get free admission, meals, and even accommodations.

2. It’s a Great Learning Experience

A good aviator never stops learning, and there are thousands of ways you can learn new things while at Oshkosh. Head over to the forums to learn about everything from TIG welding to the complete history of a specific aircraft. Additionally, there are over 800 exhibitors to visit and learn about. The cutting edge of technology is always on display at AirVenture, and attendees will be able to see things they never would have otherwise.

3. It’s Great for Networking

Whether you are a business owner, a college student, a professional pilot, or anything in between, there is going to be someone at AirVenture that you need to meet and talk to. I have made lasting friendships with people I have camped beside, and I have made professional connections with vendors that I can use throughout my whole career. The best part is: you don’t even realize you’re networking! You are all just there to have fun and enjoy the week. It never feels forced or awkward, as some networking events can tend to be.

4.It’s Unlike any Other Event

An “air show” by the classic definition would include unique airplanes doing stunts and wowing the crowd. However, AirVenture is so much more than just an air show. They call it an aviation celebration because there is no better way to describe all that happens. You are able to pick and choose from hundreds of ways to spend your time. If you want a relaxed day at the museum, take a free tram over there and spend the day indoors. If you want an unforgettable airplane ride in a B-17 or Ford Tri-Motor, go ahead and do it! There’s international food, games, and so many ways to customize the week to your desires.

5. It’s FUN

Starting with the opening night concert featuring Barenaked Ladies, AirVenture is determined to have every single attendee have a great time. Air shows featured throughout the day will amaze even the most experienced pilot. At night, the Fly-In Theater is scheduled to play several popular movies, including Sully and Rogue One. Although it can be exhausting trying to see everything you want in one day, it is worth every second and you will leave with unforgettable memories.

What is your favorite part of Oshkosh? Are you attending this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Flying | Tori Williams | Vintage Aircraft

High-Wing Vs. Low-Wing Aircraft

by Tori Williams 3. May 2017 17:28
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One of the first things an aspiring pilot learns is that not all aircraft are created equal. At least, not in the eyes of other pilots. It doesn’t take very many conversations with a pilot to find out exactly what type of aircraft they love and hate. Some pilots have good reasons for preferring one type over another, while others just have a soft spot for a certain type they trained in or became infatuated with.

The disagreements cover a variety of aircraft types. Tailwheel verses nose gear, retractable versus fixed gear, G1000 versus the historic six-pack. Each of these has been debated between pilots for years and I’m sure they will continue to be debated. Another popular category is high-wing verses low-wing aircraft. I personally have a preference for high-wing, as the vast majority of my flight time has been in Cessna 172s and a Stinson 10A.

I was curious what the general consensus was on where the best location for the wings is, so I took to the Internet and… Found no clear answer. It seems that there are pros and cons to both configurations, and it almost always boiled down to preference over hard facts. I have compiled a few major things to consider if you are in the scenario where you must choose between a high-wing or low-wing aircraft.

Visibility

Visibility was one of the first things pilots commented on when debating between the two. High-wing aircraft simply give pilot and passengers a better view of the sky around them and ground below them. They are ideal for an introduction flight, cruising around for fun, or flying on missions that require a clear view of the ground. Low-wing aircraft offer outstanding views of the world above the cockpit, but the wings can block anything below.

Accessibility

When fueling on the ground, it is usually much easier to access the tanks on a low-wing aircraft. Most high-wing fuel tanks require standing on a ladder to reach. However, the flip side of this is that it is more difficult to reach the fuel drains and visually inspect the underside of the wing on a low-wing aircraft.

Ground Clearance

Pilots of low-wing aircraft have to be more conscientious of any obstacles on the ground. This includes taxiway lights, tie-downs, and airport signage. The high-wing pilot still has to watch out, but has the ease of knowing their wings are not in such close proximity.

Safety

In the event of an emergency landing, low-wing aircraft have the advantage of being able to absorb some of the crash impact in the wings instead of the fuselage. They also help in the event of a water landing, having the potential to float above the water for a short period of time.

Some pilots love having shade under their wings on a hot summer day. Other pilots prefer being able to set maps or logbooks on the wing during preflight. Some pilots hate having to walk on the wing to get into the aircraft.

At the end of the day, there is no clear winner. It seems that it mostly comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the type of aircraft. Do you prefer high-wing or low-wing? What do you think makes one better than the other? Let me know in the comments below!

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Aircraft Sales | Aviation Safety | Flying | Tori Williams

Gulfstream Becomes a Business Aviation Icon

by Tori Williams 17. March 2017 16:14
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There’s no doubt that Gulfstream Aerospace has been getting a lot of attention lately. They debuted their brand new G500 model at NBAA last year, as well as continued to break world records for speed in their G650ER model. The attention is well earned, as they are quickly becoming one of the biggest icons in business aviation.

Gulfstream has had their focus on luxurious business aviation aircraft since the beginning. The company began in the late 1950s when Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., known for their military aircraft production, developed their first business aircraft at the end of World War II. Grumman decided to split their military and civilian aircraft production to increase efficiency. The civilian branch moved to Savannah, Georgia and eventually came to be known as Gulfstream Aerospace. http://www.gulfstream.com/company/history

Their history is full of record-setting firsts in business aviation, beginning with the GII model, which became the first business jet to cross the Atlantic Ocean nonstop in 1968. Their innovation and pursuit of perfection continued as they developed and produced more business jet models, including the GIV featuring civil aviation’s first digital flight-management computers in the cockpit.

According to new market research, the global business-jet market was valued at $20.9 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $33.8 billion by the end of 2020. http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/business-jet.asp With endless possibilities for innovation on the horizon, the market is sure to hold strong for many years to come. Companies like Beechcraft and Cessna provide steep competition, but Gulfstream has been able to continually stay ahead of the curb and produce quality, desirable aircraft.

It is very likely they will continue their reign as an icon in the business jet world for years to come. The diversity of their fleet, the wonderful craftsmanship of their designs, and the innovation of their technologies are all factors that critics rave about with each new model. Gulfstream truly has a bright future, and an enormously impressive past.

For the current market and trends see https://www.globalair.com/aircraft-for-sale/Private-Jet/Gulfstream-Aerospace

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Tori Williams



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