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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS Feed Around the Field: Pilots from down South and Down Under
A Texan Bonanza pilot and an Australian SportStar pilot
Story and photo by JACK HODGSON
Gary Martin
Gary Martin came to AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 from College Station, Texas, in his 1988 F33A Bonanza.

Gary Martin made the almost six-hour flight to AirVenture from College Station, Texas.

He was able to make the trip nearly direct, only stopping in Dubuque, Iowa, for fuel before the final 45 minutes into Wittman Field.

Gary chose to stop in Dubuque because “they were one of the sites mentioned on the EAA website for a good place to get fuel. And fuel was only $5.15 a gallon, self-serve, which to somebody driving a Honda Civic sounds expensive, but to somebody driving a Bonanza, it’s pretty cheap.”

Gary’s Bonanza is a 1988 F33A model with about 3,500 hours on it. He tells us about its intriguing history.

“When it left the Beech factory in ’88 it was exported to Belgium and lived the first 15 years of its life flying in Africa, South America, and back to the U.S., three times, that I can tell, and was re-imported in 2003.

“And I am the third owner since then.”

Gary learned to fly while in graduate school, then used the GI Bill to get his commercial, instrument, and CFI.

“I worked for Beech Aircraft in Wichita; I worked for Mooney, sold Pipers for a while, now I work for AOPA. I’m national director of strategic philanthropy for the AOPA Foundation.”
He uses the Bonanza for a lot of business flying.

“I use it for business, to get around within generally two or three hours of where I live. Beyond that, when I go to California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, which are other places that I cover on behalf of AOPA, then I go commercial air. Which just reminds me how wonderful general aviation is. And what a great freedom it is to be able to fly that way.”

His first time to Oshkosh was 30 years ago, which was a memorable year for a notorious reason.

“It was memorable mostly because the morning I left was the morning after Reagan had fired all the controllers. And so we had to depart in marginal VFR conditions.”

This was on the final weekend of the Oshkosh fly-in.

“You had to go VFR; nobody could get an IFR clearance out of here. As I recall there were still people in the tower; supervisors were still working.”

Gary’s home field is Coulter Field, in Bryan, Texas.

Up from Down Under
AirVenture is legendary for attracting aviation fans from all over the world. One of those long-distance travelers is Bas Scheffer from Adelaide, Australia.

Bas is a sport pilot in Oz and flies a SportStar, which is roughly equivalent to a U.S. light-sport category aircraft.

He also logs time in a Cessna 172 as he trains to add a private pilot certificate.

Listening to Bas talk about flying in Australia sounds like what flying in the United States might be like in a few years.

“GA is actually losing ground down there, thanks mostly to a lot of user fees, high regulation, and the cost, which really makes things very expensive, while sport flying is gaining.

“Sport is really the way to go in Australia.”

His home airport is Gawler (YGAW), which to these northern hemisphere ears sounded like “GAWH.”

“It’s a former WWII training field that has been taken over by the gliding club. And with sport flying making such a big impact—we’re not being allowed in controlled airspace as sport pilot unless you have a private pilot license, then you can fly your sport plane into it—it’s really grown big.

“So we have dozens of aircraft at GAW, dozens of hangars. It’s a great community there.”

GAW is a nontowered airport: “There are very few towered airports in Australia. We even have a lot of airlines going into CTAFs.”

How many airplanes based at GAW? “More than 50. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more than 100. Most of them sports, a fair few gliders as well.”

Bas has been flying for three years and has about 200 hours in the SportStar. He’s also logged time in a few other models.

One is a Fuji FA200. “They’re actually made by Fuji Heavy Industries, the same people who make the film and the cameras.

“It’s very popular in Japan. There are a few around the world. It’s a four-seater, low-wing; looks a bit like a big Tomahawk. It’s aerobatic, if you don’t put people in the back seat, but aerobatic like a 152 is, not a performance aerobatic aircraft. I’ve done aerobatics in it; that was fun.”

Bas used to come to the states more often, for business and pleasure, but since settling down and having a family, this is his first time here since early 2007.

It’s his first time to AirVenture. What’s his first impression of the Oshkosh fly-in?

“Ah! It’s mind-blowing. People warn you not to try and see everything ’cause you won’t. So I’m just gonna have a good time, gonna see some things that I really want to see, and then just take it all in. And if I can, I’ll be back.”

Bas is a principal in an aviation software business. It’s an electronic flight bag application for Australian pilots called OzRunways.

“It’s kinda like the ForeFlight for Australia.”

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