I don’t know about you but I have been frustrated by the departure process just about every year that I come to AirVenture. Planning to return to a far away land (Houston at one time and now western Nevada), I want to take advantage of leaving as soon as the field opens to departures. So, I pull my plane out from its tie-down, turn it perpendicular to the other planes to avoid spraying prop wash over my neighbors, and try to find a departure briefer and an escort at 6:00 am. Every year, I fail to find either at that hour. So, after maybe 20 or 30 minutes of frustration and irritation, I just fire up, taxi to the nearest taxiway, and follow the others to departure. It seems to work, but it isn’t how the NOTAM says we are to do it.
This year, I learned that the Homebuilt Parking/Camping crews, the Briefing crews, and even the Homebuilt Control Tower are not scheduled to come on duty until 7 am—a complete disconnect from the printed instructions. So, I attended one of the scheduled departure briefings at the Homebuilder’s Pavilion on Friday morning to ask what gives.
The answer? First, there is a disconnect and, second, do exactly what I have been doing but eliminate the search for briefers and escorts. If you come to depart Homebuilt Parking or Camping between 6:00 and 7:00 am, pull your plane out of line, turn it perpendicular to your neighbors, listen to the ATIS, and, if the ATIS says the field is open, fire up the engine and taxi to the appropriate runway. I’ll see how it goes.