A lone Beechcraft
Bonanza stands guard in the middle of the North 40 camping area
on Saturday, July 24, 2010, before EAA AirVenture 2010 begins.
Planned mass arrivals of Beechcrafts, Cessnas, Pipers and many
other types were delayed or cancelled in the wake of heavy rains
in the days before AirVenture opened.
The mass arrivals of Bonanzas, Mooneys,
Cessnas, and other aircraft types that typically precede AirVenture have
been grounded by the rains that have turned their campsites into wading
pools, leaving group flight organizers and participants to develop
contingency plans, and wait.
“We are just standing by to hear from
the EAA and the FAA regarding conditions on the ground,” said Gil
Velez, one of the coordinators of the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh 2010, on
Saturday morning from Dodge County Airport (KUNU) in Juneau, Wisconsin.
“The only thing we’re sure of is we’re not going in today.”
Bill Rabek, flight leader of the Mooney
Caravan, was hunkered down with some 30 other Mooneys at Dane County
Regional Airport (KMSN) in Madison, Wisconsin, their annual staging
“Some of our people might have to drive
to Oshkosh and some might have to leave to go home,” Rabek said. “It
will make the Caravan smaller.”
For at least one organizer, the challenge
wasn’t in getting to Oshkosh, but getting out.
“We’re calling it Sloshkosh 2010,”
said Tim Fox, who was scheduled to lead a flight of some 50 Stinson
aircraft from the International Stinson Club into Wittman Field (KOSH)
from Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYV). Unfortunately, Fox’s Stinson
is already at OSH.
“I’m up to my axles in water and mud,” said Fox, who was planning
to drive to Watertown to deliver a preflight briefing.
At Waupaca, Wisconsin (KPCZ), Terry
Hocking, flight leader of Cherokees 2 Osh was trying to determine how
many aircraft were still in his group on Saturday morning.
“We’re suffering a little bit of
attrition,” Hocking said. “People are trying to make alternative
At Rockford International Airport (KRFD)
in Illinois, organizers of B2Osh, the Bonanza group flight that started
the mass arrival tradition in 1989, were considering scrubbing the
“Our gut call is to cancel” the group
flight, and let participants decide when and if they would fly in, said
Wayne Mudge, B2Osh safety briefer.
The problem for these groups and
AirVenture organizers is the lack of camping spots, said Dick Knapinski,
the EAA’s media and public affairs director.
“We want to make sure they have
someplace to go when they get here,” Knapinski said. “We’re
working with each of the groups on what they want to do. The primary
thing you want to do is preserve the aircraft and preserve the grounds,
in that order.”
Despite the radical change in plans,
organizers report most participants are making the best of the
“We have people who came from the four
corners of the country just to do this, but we’re pilots, we know the
only thing we cannot control is the weather,” said Velez of Cessnas 2
Osh. “So we’re trying to keep our spirits up. We’re going on with
our program of activities on the ground at Juneau. We’re even planning
some flying activities.”
“Most people are taking it very
light-heartedly,” Rabek said of the Mooney crews. “They understand
this is beyond everyone’s control.”
“Obviously everyone’s disappointed,”
Fox echoed, speaking of the Stinson pilots. “But everyone’s still
looking forward to having a good year in Oshkosh.”
No water damage to AirVenture Cup
Organizers of the AirVenture Cup say the rains that soaked Oshkosh have
had little impact on the annual race to Oshkosh.
“We have racers coming from all over the country, and the rain was a
fairly local system, so it hasn’t affected us,” said Eric Anderson,
co-founder (with Eric Whyte) of the event, from Mitchell Airport (KMHE)
in South Dakota, the race’s starting point. “Most racers are already
The race was scheduled to begin between 9
a.m. and 10 a.m. local time on Sunday.