Nearly 70 pilots have already signed up to
participate in the 11th Mooney Caravan to Oshkosh this year.
Bill Rabek, caravan lead, said each year 10 to
20 percent of the pilots who sign up for the formation flight are not able to
make it due to last-minute personal constraints. So Rabek is anticipating 54
Mooneys, or nine groups of six airplanes, will depart Madison's Dane County
Regional Airport about 3:30 p.m. July 26 and make the 62-nautical mile trip to
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
Rabek says the emphasis is again on safety. At
minimum, pilots participating in the flight should have 500 hours flight time,
50 hours Mooney time and flown at least 25 hours in the last six months. They
also look at a pilot's ratings when determining who is eligible for the
"We have to draw the line somewhere, and we
try to look at the whole picture. But the key has to be safety," Rabek
says. "I would rather turn away someone who was borderline and err on the
side of being too safe."
Pilots must also attend mandatory briefings that
include information on weather, routing and the flight profiles. In addition,
each pilot/crew is required to undergo a 'situational awareness' briefing on
For 2008, pilots won't see big changes in the
flight. "We are incrementally adding to our knowledge every year and
refining what we do so we can slowly and steadily improve," he says.
"But we have found out it helps during the pilot briefing to emphasize
that pilots keep their eyes to the outside and to let the group leader do the
navigating. With this many airplanes flying this close, it's important to keep
The biggest change participants will notice is
the redesigned Web page at www.mooneycaravan.com.
There you can find out more information on the flight, purchase merchandise,
see a listing who is registered to participate and more.
The group will again hold its annual barbecue -
this time featuring brats and beer - between the rows of their airplanes on
Sunday. "Other than that, we don't have a planned activity every day. But
people are always gathering at campsites, particularly in the evening and often
times in the morning," he says.
In fact, Rabek says the Mooney flight to
AirVenture is as much about camaraderie as it is about airplanes. "I've
been going to AirVenture for 18 years, and I now go there for the people, as
much as to see what's new in gadgets and airplanes. It's just a wonderful group