Old Pilot’s Camper Journal #6 – Sun ‘n Fun 2023 Edition

Unpacking the Fly-In Go Bag at the home-drome.

I had to be home after Sun ‘n Fun by Saturday night. I fully intended to get up at the crack of dawn, break camp and then get on the road to Atlanta before the spring break traffic could clog the roads. I got the first two tasks accomplished by breaking down the tent and stowing everything in the truck just as the first beams of light brightened the eastern sky. However, I just could not bring myself to open the cab door and get in.

I walked to the other end of the campground and ordered breakfast from the Texas Cheeseburger trailer. I then walked into the show, aimlessly wandering around until the exhibitor hangars opened. I walked through all four hangars one more time, just to make sure I had not missed anything. I could not put it off any longer, so I trudged back to my truck, hopped in and set course.

As feared, returning spring breakers clogged I-75 like rush hour in Los Angeles. It took me six hours just to reach the Florida state line. Half way there, I looked up into the azure sky to see a slight scattered layer at about 5,000 feet. If I had only flown, I would have been landing at KLZU by now.

Fifteen years ago I lost my medical when I had a stent placed in my heart. It was not that big a deal. I never had a heart attack, but I was huffing and puffing whenever I did work around the house (believe me, I did dang little work). After trotting on the treadmill for a bit, the cardiologist studied the long strip of paper she was pulling between her fingers and stated, “That ain’t right”. Next thing I knew, I was the proud owner of a little spiral spring (I think they use ball point pen springs) in my left anterior descending artery. I understand it’s a popular spot to have one.

When I went to get my next medical, you would have thought that I had a heart transplant. The FAA made me and my cardiologist move heaven and earth before “granting” me a special issuance medical certificate. Every year since then, I had to have an EKG stress test to earn my medical. When they made the new rules for BasicMed, I was the first to sign up. That worked will for several years until the first of 2021, when my cardiologist decided that I needed another stent. Now, my BasicMed certificate is null and void and I have to reapply for a new class III medical. I submitted the reams of documents about four months ago, but the FAA had not “granted” me permission to fly just yet.

The last time I regained my medical, I raised my fist to the sky (trying to channel Scarlett O’Hara) and declared, “As God as my witness, I will never drive to a fly-in again.” Sure enough, I flew my trusty Skyhawk to SNF and OSH many times, only to be struck down by my lack of medical authorization to fly to Lakeland this year. Oh well, I spent the time on the road contemplating how sweet it will be when I get back in the left seat. I have decided that I will spend the first few hours in rusty pilot training and then transition straight into working on my long overdue instrument training.

Those happy thoughts carried me north on I-75 until I finally reached my driveway. I lifted my duffel bag, crammed to the top with my tent, sleeping bag and air mattress, and smiled, thinking that the next time I pulled it off the shelf in the garage, it would be to begin the journey to another fly-in. Until then, I will be working on my beloved RV-8A, trying to get it into the air. I am working on the firewall-forward at this point and I can almost hear the tower clear me for my first takeoff. When that happens, my friends, you will be the first to know. Until OSH, we’re down and clear of the active.

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Steve Ashby
Steve Ashby is a sometime lawyer and full-time aviation aficionado from Atlanta, Georgia. He learned to fly in 1980 and has adopted a 1968 Skyhawk (your Grandma could fly it). Steve is also working on a Van's RV-8A which he swears will be completed on (a) Thursday.


  1. Steve, thanks again for all the SNF reporting. Even if you “only” drove down, you still made the scene, man! — And then shared it with us on these pages. Thanks again! -Jeff

  2. Great hangin’ with you and the 690 gang Steve. I made it in abt 8 hrs after a breakfast taco compliments of the Sonex guys, Robb and Mark. See you around the patch…
    Jerry Fischer


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