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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedFond du Lac a bit more crowded than usual
By Randy Dufault
 

More tents than usual spring up at Fond du Lac. Fond du Lac is open to aircraft camping while Appleton is accepting aircraft parking.

Fond du Lac County Airport in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a normal destination for many EAA AirVenture Oshkosh-bound flyers most years, is an unintended destination for many others this year as the Oshkosh grounds dry out from recent rains.

Marcellin Lavergne of Boucherville, Quebec, and Yvon Gagnon of St. Hubert, Quebec, left CYHU Saturday in Lavergne's Bonanza. Even though their departure was into a 200-foot ceiling, weather reports indicated the Oshkosh weather was VFR. Up until about 20 miles from the field they fully intended an Oshkosh landing and a North 40 camping spot.

"ATIS said [Oshkosh] was closed to general aviation so we diverted here," Lavergne said, but added with a grin, "Actually we really didn't divert; we were here already."

Fond du Lac, along with Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin, share reliever airport duties during EAA AirVenture.
In a typical year both airports absorb the airplane overflow when parking in Oshkosh fills up. Other pilots simply choose to avoid the Oshkosh traffic altogether and make those airports their destination.

Unlike Appleton, Fond du Lac allows camping next to the airplanes. Lavergne and other divertees simply pitched their tents and made camp much as they would in the North 40.

Lavergne only has a few days to enjoy EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, so he plans to leave his plane and tent in Fond du Lac.

Sylvain St-Georges and his son Robin, airport neighbors to Lavergne and Gagnon at Montreal's St. Hubert Airport (CYHU), ended up at Fond du Lac after an adventurous three-day flight. Weather along the way mandated overnight stops in Port Huron, Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana.

"We visited a lot of the (U.S.)," Sylvain St-Georges said. "It was very nice to see Detroit city and the big airport."

Their constantly changing flight plan took them across parts of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and, of course, Wisconsin.

He and Robin plan to move their airplane to Oshkosh just as soon as conditions allow. "It's not because we don't like Fond du Lac, but the show is there."

Clayton and Nancy Coss of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who flew their Cessna 172 to EAA AirVenture for the second time, made the decision to divert about 20 miles from Ripon.

"We were closer to the showers last year," Nancy said, comparing their Fond du Lac camp with last year's North 40 camping spot. Her hope was to get a similar spot this year.

Erik Wennan, Chilkoot Ward, and Ward's daughter Allison left Fairbanks, Alaska, last Wednesday in a highly modified Cessna 182, for their first EAA AirVenture visit in 12 years.

First indications of the unprecedented conditions in Oshkosh came during a stop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

"We actually heard the event was canceled, that you couldn't go there," Wennan said. "But we checked the NOTAMs and looked on the Internet and obviously that wasn't true."

A decision to land at Fond du Lac was made after checking on Oshkosh field conditions during a stop in Owatonna, Minnesota.

The Cessna, like many Alaskan airplanes, sports oversized tires and a larger-than-stock engine.

"We hear it is a bit of a swamp up there," Wennan said. "Heck, we probably land in stuff that is wetter than that."

Since Wennan and his plane-mates plan to spend the entire week at EAA AirVenture, they will move the airplane to Oshkosh just as soon as conditions allow.

Gary Helton, his son Byron, and grandson Byron II, deferred a bus trip to the EAA AirVenture grounds Sunday morning. Their hope was for word they could bring their red Cherokee Dakota to Oshkosh before noon.

The Helton's Saturday flight from Indianapolis was uneventful other than a short delay to let some thunderstorms pass and, of course, the unplanned diversion to Fond du Lac.

Gary, who has been coming to EAA AirVenture for, in his words, 30-some-odd years, was anxious to get grandson Byron II to his second convention.

"I want to see the flying car," the young Helton said.

Conditions at Fond du Lac County Airport are good and parking, as of Sunday, remained available.

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