Tsamsiyu and my flight from the Lake Tahoe area to Oshkosh was just about perfect. We were blessed with clear skies, modest tailwind, and flawless pilot and plane performance. I expected the trip home to exact at least some toll in compensation and I wasn’t disappointed.
The first challenge was dodging storms just west of KOSH on Friday morning. Combining cockpit weather and eyes on the skies, I easily threaded through breaks in the rains and got to Viroqua Municipal Airport in time to wake a couple folks sleeping on the couch and floor. A quick stop before launching again. It looked like the storm was headed that way.
When I reached Valentine, Nebraska, another storm line threatened to the west and I was beat so a quick nap seemed in order. An hour later, the weather was mostly cleared but the plane refused to start. It cranked just fine but never a pop despite trying all the hot start tricks I knew. And then, the battery was a bit low. To the rescue came Sandhills Aero on the field. They helped pull Tsam in the shade, put a charger on, and loaned me tools to easily remove the top cowl. Everything seemed in order so with a full charge and a cool engine, we fired up and headed west.
The moderate tailwinds we enjoyed heading east were now a consistent headwind and the choice was to bounce along low, avoid most of the wind, and burn 10 gph or more or climb up to the relative cool with 20-knot headwinds and burn more like 7 gph. The high road won but the winds forced me to add a fuel stop. I dialed in Rock Springs, Wyoming (RKS).
RKS offers a substantial discount to Oshkosh travelers. Thanks to the delay in Valentine, I decided to enjoy one of their other bennies. I knew I was too late for the free BBQ but I took advantage of the free shuttle to the Holiday Inn, grabbed a good meal, and slept a full eight hours. The free shuttle carried me back at dawn, making Rock Springs just about a perfect overnight stop.
Three-and-a-half hours and one fuel stop later, we were home. Flight time was just over an hour more than the trip out and added one extra fuel stop and an overnight stop. But, that’s the nature of GA flying. For every flight with tailwinds, there is bound to be a flight with headwinds. While most of our flights don’t present mechanical/fuel/electrical challenges, there will be trips where our planes mis-behave and we adapt. But the wonderful lesson from this trip home was that there is a community out there ready to help. Yesterday, Kelly and his dad at Sandhills Aero were my valentines.