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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedDeluge rains on mass arrivals’ parade
By James Wynbrandt

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 area.

“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 plans.”

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 entire mission.

“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 situation.

“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 here.”

The race was scheduled to begin between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time on Sunday.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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