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2007/07/23 Long cross country flight to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and back
π 2007-07-23 11:59 by Merlin in Flying, Nflying, Oshkosh

I hadn't been able to go to Oshkosh last year because it conflicted with OLS, which in turn conflicted with my Birthday. This year, I only had a double conflict (my BD), so I figured I'd give it a shot.
I used the flight to make more serious use of Seattle Avionics, my flight planning software, and it did a good job. My main problem was to have to print all those pages of airports I might stop at, or not, just because I couldn't use my laptop at altitude in the plane. I think I'll be getting a custom laptop/EFB with a solid state hard drive (i.e. Flash Ram) so that I can just use that in flight and not have to worry.

I was first hoping to rent a Mooney 231 for the flight so as to get a good cruising speed (190kts), but unfortunately, it was already rented, so I had to select another aircraft. I had to settle for a Cirrus SR22 :) (well, it was settle because it did cost a fair amount more and was somewhat slower. That said, we got slightly better avionics in return)

The trip was nice for my getting used to the plane, There is no better than a 22H/3200NM cross country to get used to a plane :) but it confirmed that I don't like Avydine avionics. They have too many quirks and just aren't well integrated. We had several bad behaviours from the STEC 55x autopilot (going left and right on an ILS without staying on centerline, or pitching wildly down), a total localizer heading failure on NAV 1 (Garmin 430) where it went on a completely incorrect centerline, and weird communication problems between the PFD, MFD, and Garmin 430s. Stuff that's just unacceptable for a $400k plane.
Apart from those issues, the plane itself flew well though, and we ended up averaging 160kts ground speed on the way there, and 170kts+ on the way back (yes, I know it's opposite from the typical prevailing winds), and I did the flight with one of my CFIs, both to learn from his experience in flying around or close to thunderstorms, as a copilot to help out if I got too tired, and because I wasn't fully checked out to solo in the SR22 yet.

Let's now look at the legs:

Flight from Palo Alto to Oshkosh

The flight was about 1900NM (3060km) in 10.9H of hobbs time and 3 legs. We left a bit after 09:30 and first stopped at Evanston, Wyoming to refuel. In hindsight, we had enough fuel to go a bit further and we should have because we almost got pinned in the airport by a thunderstorm. Luckily, it was only a big rain and thunderstorm cloud, and it blew over while we waited on the runway.
After that, we went to Sioux City and we had to traverse a line of thunderstorm sigmet to get there. Luckily, it was rather mild, and thanks to XM weather and looking out the window, we were able to find a reasonable hole in that line of thunderstorms to get through.
The next morning, we left for Oshkosh by first finding a hole in the low broken clouds at Sioux City, and we got to Oshkosh under lowering overcasts 'on the green dot' of runway 27 thanks to Dave's help feeding me the instructions on how to fly there while I was doing the flying.

Our plane at Palo Alto

I brought in a good bottle of Oxygen so that we could climb at higher altitudes (low fuel flow/high speed cruise at 12500 to 14500)

Departure at Palo Alto was almost IFR but we got out

Salt Lake City

Approaching Evanston, NV for landing

By the time it took to refuel, weather had caught up with us: thunderstorms with lightening on upwind. Luckily we were able to get out

I went through my first convective sigmet, a line of thunderstorms, that was exicting (even if they were mild)

Arrived in time at Sioux City (KSUX) before sunset and before the fuel tank ran dry :)

Flight to Oshkosh was medium to low-ish ceilings

Landing at KOSH on runway 27

The pictures from this flight are here

Return flight from Oshkosh to Palo Alto

The return flight was easier to do in a day since we had 2 hours additional in that day instead of two hours fewer (or a 4 hour differential).
I had planned the flight a bit more to the north to stop at Rapid City, South Dakota for refueling and a quick lunch, and then to fly by Mount Rushmore before flying north of Salt Lake city towards Elko, Nevada. We did a quick refuel in Elko and got to Palo Alto "soon" after that.
Turns out that by sheer luck, my alternate routing mostly kept us out of thunderstorms, which made the flight pretty uneventful.
We got home a bit quicker, but I still recorded 10.9H hobbs on the way back since I shot some approaches for each of the 3 landings, including an ILS approach into Moffett, which was a bit of a detour.

Waiting in line for takeoff (thankfully a short wait)

People were leaving let and right, and those were only the ones that had their transponders on (they were supposed to be left off for about 30NM)

Some light thunderstorms on the way back too

Crossing the Mississippi

Our lunch stop in rapid city, mixed with a few airliners

Mount Rushmore

There were some thunderstorms on the way, but by luck, my flight plan managed to skirt the edges of them without having to worry about them much

Salt Lake City seen from the North this time

A quick fuel stop in Elko, NV for fuel (KEKO)

The pictures from this flight are here


All in all, it took about 20H of flying (plus ground run time), 3800NM (7000km) of distance covered, nice landscapes along the way, and weather that was interesting enough to learn from, but never a thread to the flight.
It was definitely a nice experience, in addition to the time at EEA itself (see separate entry for that)

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