Jetting To Oshkosh

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I know (or have met – I really don’t have a lot of good friends in that economic class) a number of folks that get to fly to Oshkosh in their personal jets – Citations, Phenoms, and even a Lear. So it was fun to join this exclusive club when I touched down on runway 27 at the Mecca of aviation in my very own turbine-powered airplane! Of course, I didn’t exactly non-stop from the west coast (or Prague), and I didn’t arrive fresh as a daisy, emerging from a luxurious cabin that was air conditioned and equipped with fizzy water and custom-labeled snacks.

No, I arrived in my personal jet, equipped with what I had stuffed in the pockets of my flight suit, sweating under my helmet, and very experienced from eight landings between home and the shores of Lake Winnebago. My flashy little stead was my recently-completed Subsonex which we call “Loki,” and fortunately she showed no tendency towards being the trickster god of her namesake. In fact, it was an amazingly smooth flight, mechanically – the engine ran perfectly, the avionics hummed along, and with smooth air and tailwinds, it was a joy all along the way from our Lake Tahoe base across the vast American west.

The Subsonex carries a full fuel load of just 40 gallons, and with an average flow of 20 gah, that means you’re a glider after two hours. Flight planning is complicated by the fact that you spend about 25 minutes climbing to a cruise altitude of 17,500’, followed a short time at that altitude and then a descent at redline with the throttle back to flight idle. The easiest thing to say is that it is comfortable to find a landing spot about every 200 nautical miles, 230 if the winds are favorable. If you go 250, it’s best to be on final approach when you get out that far. For this trip, the departure point (Dayton Valley Airpark, A34) was followed by landings at Elko (NV), Evanston (WY), Rawlins, (WY), Newcastle (SD, and an overnite stop in Winner (SD). The second day saw an early hop to Worthington (MN), where we literally cooled our jets for about five hours waiting on the low overcast across Minnesota to lift so that we could press on in the VFR-only machine without worrying about getting trapped on top.

Red Wing (MN) was our next layover, where we waited for good enough weather to cross the Wisconsin cranberry bogs, and drop in to Waupaca to take on fuel just 25 miles from Oshkosh before dropping in to the aviation Mecca where we were met with curious and excited looks and a nice hangar to display the little airplane for the week.

Come see Loki in the Homebuilder’s Hangar sometime during during your week at the show!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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