Westbound After the Show



Westbound from Oshkosh

Oshkosh 2018 is in the books, and hopefully, pilots from all parts of the country have made it home safely. It was a good year according to many of the kit and accessory manufacturers that we talked to, with more sales up, and crowds of builders descending for information. My indicator was the number of people who rushed the booths and tents as the show opened Monday morning, hoping to get the inside scoop on a planned purchase and get that hot money out of their pocket. That’s good for all of us, as it shows a distinct uptick in the homebuilt movement!

But all good things come to an end, and Tom Wilson (Rear Cockpit) and I cranked up the Dream Tundra, which I occasionally refer to as the “lumbering beast” in homebuilt camping on Saturday morning, bound for the Lake Tahoe region. With a TAS cruise of about 115 knots, we knew we were going to take two days to cover the nearly 1500 nautical miles – and were pleasantly surprised to find light winds, with some of them coming from behind! I am used to cruising high and fast in an RV, so while it seemed painful to crawl along the ground, it was also a great experience to fly low and take in the sights for a change. Cattle, tractors, fields overflowing with corn ready for harvest – the upper midwest was green with life. I was really surprised to realize that the vast fields of wind turbines now covering southern Minnesota and the plains in to South Dakota have all sprung up in the past fifteen years or so. Amazingly prolific, they swing huge blades that warn against scud running. You can get whacked pretty good if you stumble into a mess of those things!

We overnighted in Rawlins, Wyoming, a western town where everyone recommends the Thai restaurant for the best food in town. And they aren’t kidding! The morning of the second day dawned with a blood-red sun peaking over the horizon as we headed off into the smoke of many fires raging across the west. Western Wyoming always seems to sport headwinds as it squeezes you up to nearly 10,000′ to cross into Utah – but the winds die back off across the Salt Lake basin. Signal Peak welcomes us to Nevada, and then the smoke got really heavy, and we saw little else but brown sky and the ground below us. Legal VFR, but practical IMC – the air at least was smooth due to a lack of wind that contributed to the lack of clearing. With fourteen more hours on the Tundra’s clock, we touched down at home base before home, ready to let our beast rest and cool off for awhile.

Yup – another show in the books – and time to get back to work! There are many articles to be written… and rivets to be driven.

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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 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly 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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