The AirVenture fun always starts for me hundreds of miles before reaching Oshkosh. This year, I had five fuel (and bladder) stops between western Nevada and the show and we ran into other Oshkosh pilgrims at four of the airports. Even in little Wells, Nevada (LWL), we ran into an RV-7 pilot headed to the show. Being a frugal type, I look for the best deals and one trick I use is consulting the EAA list of FBOs and airports offering good and great deals on fuel, food, and drinks. Along my path, Rock Springs, Wyoming (RKS), was the first listed site and we landed just in time for lunch.
Rock Springs’ full-service fuel price was better than any self-service in the area, the lounge and staff are pleasant, and the cheeseburgers absolutely hit the spot. We were joined by several Bonanza fliers headed to Rockford for the anticipated Bonanza mass arrival and a couple folks in a Swift. A small social event spontaneously broke out around grilled cheeseburgers. Then, we launched into a 20-knot wind direct down the runway and headed east.
We ended our first night at my favorite Oshkosh-bound airport, Yankton, South Dakota (YKN), where I knew we would find lots of free (donations accepted) food and drinks from the local EAA chapter, city-provided courtesy cars to go into town, showers, and comfy recliners and couches to sleep on. The fuel price and staff are unbeatable. Last year, I ended up stuck there by weather for three nights, but I still haven’t tired of their hospitality (though they may have tired of my lurking!). We were the first of the overnighters to arrive on Friday but a half-dozen other planes joined us before sunset and either set up camp in the building, on the grounds, or scuttled off to local hotels. An early launch from Yankton in the early morning puts one into the Oshkosh frenzy well before noon, even in a slow bushplane.
Our last stop was Wautoma, Wisconsin (Y50), another friendly stop almost within spitting distance of Oshkosh. Every time I’ve been there, a small flock of sandhill cranes grazed along the runway, lifting their heads just long enough to grade my landings. It is a place to fill the tanks at a reasonable price, empty the bladder, review the NoTAM, and organize the signs before diving into the KOSH hive. Then, it was off to the greatest aviation show on earth!