Here's the complete track of our trip:
As you can see the flightpath went north somewhat to avoid restricted airspace, and then south for the way back to avoid thunderstorms over the rockies.
Flight From Palo Alto to Oshkosh
This year I picked the club's Mooney Acclaim and an experienced CFI. Unfortunately, the plane's payload is abysmal and between the two of us, we could only put 70 gallons of fuel instead of the full 102 gallons that would have allowed for a flight with a single refueling stop.
We left soon after 7 in light IMC conditions (typical morning overcast), and picked up some favourable winds which put us in KRKS with around 15 gallons to spare.
IFR Departure from Palo Alto
Salt Lake City's Salt Lake
Weather wasn't bad, but we picked up our IFR flight plan for the second leg as there were still some clouds around our altitude. My forcast said that winds were less favourable at higher altitudes, so we stayed at 19,000ft. In hindsight I kind of regret not knowing what the true airspeed at FL250 was going to be. We only got around 200kts TAS at 30.5" MAP lean of peak.
Fuel stop #1
IFR over the top
We were watching the weather on the way, but thankfully the bad weather was moving south and allowed us to land at Appleton without problems and on schedule (before 20:00). I totally could have landed at Oshkosh proper, but I figured we'd try Appleton this time (a reliever airport) to have more leeway on when we could arrive and leave. In hindsight, the $50/1H-ish cab ride each way actually made it longer and more expensive than staying at Bassler FBO at Oshkosh proper, but eh, you can't always know.
Bad weather on the way, but south of us
Second fuel stop
Weather getting worse, even closing up behind us, but clear ahead
On the ground at Appleton, just north of Oshkosh
Flying the Acclaim wasn't too hard, but I totally sucked at landing it, apparently because I didn't quite get the nose up picture during the flare which I thought to be the same than the SR22/TB20, but wasn't the same at all.
Just 45mn before sunset or so
Planes on display
The first day, I visited the Airbus 380 despite the hellishly long line.
The terrafugia roadable airplane was moving along nicely
heavy load carrier, mostly used for carrying water and dropping it over fires
the border patrol UAV
Although I missed the simulated army overflies because I'm a moron, there were still many to see
Of course, Airventure still had its daily airshows
The Redbull Helicopter, still doing what helis aren't supposed to do
The Spaceship 1 Carrier
Flight back home
Flying home was not going to be a piece of cake due to bad weather forecast, but thankfully it passed through in the early morning and we were able to take off by 11 local time. However, this put us quite behind schedule.
my flyties came in handy for staying on the grass
ready for a flight back
bad weather just passed us, ready to go
first fuel stop was Winter airport
fuel was self serve, based on the honor system (you wrote your own fuel use and receipt)
at least we were still able to fly high enough to benefit from O2 (headwinds died down as we proceeded forward)
a bit on IFR, allowing me to log a few approaches
Evanston, a good place for our fuel stop and deciding how to proceed ahead
I was joking that if we walked to the end of the runway, we'd be in Utah. I was actually right :)
thunderstorms over the rockies were nasty, but we found a course around them
well, kinda, with some help from ATC
clouds at FL200 gave us traces of icing, but nothing too bad
nice sky pictures though.
250kts in the descent, woohoo! :)
Flight times were 8.5H to fly there (air hobbs) and 9.5H to fly back with the headwinds and weather detours. Not as fast as the supposedly 220-240kt airplane should have delivered (POH quoted 220kts+ for our density altitude, which was apparently a sack of lies, by a whole 20kts), but still pretty good and a personal record for me :)
home, sweet home
A big thanks to my trusty CFI, Don Styles, for salvaging my poor landings in the plane, and teaching me about dealing with weather, which was part of the point of this trip (we rarely have "weather" in california :) ).
flight from PAO to ATW
flight from ATW back to PAO