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  #1  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:24 PM
jamlip jamlip is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 133
Default From SoCal to Airventure 2021, and beyond, in a rescue-puppy RV-6

Preamble: in 2019 I bought an RV-6 project. It needed rewiring, plus a few other bits sorting. I made a thread about it here: https://vansairforce.net/community/s...d.php?t=174719

I finished the rebuild in June 2020. I had flown my previous acft, an RV-4 to Osh in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and really wanted to do the same in this 6. But Coronavirus changed everything, including plans for Airventure 2020.

Seconds after learning that the EAA had committed to going ahead with an Airventure 2021, I decided I would attempt to fly the route in a day. I had attempted this in the RV-4 three times with no success, but with the RV-6 about 20 knots quicker, and able to carry an extra 16 gallons of fuel in its oversized tanks, I figured it was doable, if not particularly enjoyable.



I left Palm Springs CA at about 7.30am local on Sunday 25th. Aside from duelling with two situationally vacant nordo Carbon Cubs pilots in the pattern at my first fuel stop, E14 Ohkay Owingeh airport (only to then find the fuel pump inop) and then being chased out of KAXX Angel Fire by a fast-moving stormfront, the flight was more or less direct, uneventful and absolutely exhausting. I made just one subsequent stop at 0K7 Humboldt Municipal, Indiana before arriving at KOSH 36R after 9h20m of flight time, 20 minutes before the airport closed for the night. Definitely ‘Type 2 Fun’ as extreme athletes refer to it - not much joy whilst you’re doing it, but retrospectively satisfying. I am pleased that I now never have to try this again.



Unfortunately only a few people from my small crowd of flying friends could make it to the show. I met up with Aaron Robinson, who had flown his Cardinal in from Torrance California and kept me fed, and off the food stand cheeseburgers, for most of the time there, Bob Bittner, who owns a Cozy, and Steve Randall, a Chipmunk-flying-Alaska-Airlines-capt who happens to live a few miles down the road from me. Steve had flown his Chipmunk, at 90 knots, all the way from SoCal, only to have a magneto gut itself with only a hundred miles left to run.

Likely as a result of the previous year's cancellation, the show had already set record attendance numbers before it officially opened, and I managed to bag one of the last few spots in Homebuilt Camping, next to some friendly Harmon-rocket-flying-ex-F14 pilots (and a U2 pilot) from Utah. The vibe was different to previous years, having no foreign visitors, but was still solidly Type 1 Fun.





On Wednesday it was announced that a fairly serious storm was going to come through the general area that night. I had already done one uncomfortably windy night in the tent, so, along with lots of others, I packed up the plane and left, heading south to KDPA Dupage County, IL, to stay with a friend. Besides wanting to see my friend, I had an ulterior motive for the trip to Chicago.

Having grown-up playing early versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator (and probably having that game to blame for sowing the seed of this ridiculously complicated and expensive obsession) I have always wanted to see (what's left of) Meigs Field - the airport on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and MSFS's base airport - from the air. So, following a good night’s sleep in a proper bed, on a moderately clear Thursday morning in late July, I ducked under the O'Hare bravo and headed up the lakefront, passing by the city, with Meigs (now a park) and the Sears Tower out on the left. If someone had told me, as a ten-year-old piloting a polygonal Skylane RG with a creaking plastic yoke and keyboard-key flaps and throttle, that one day I would be doing it in my own actual real aeroplane (let alone one that I had rewired on my patio), it would have seemed completely unattainable. But here I was - Flight Sim in real life. It was a moment, and being still quite exhausted from unrested camping at Airventure, I teared up a bit.





How the Meigs dream died - thanks Daley...



I continued north, and did a big lap of the Chicago area, picking up fuel south of Wisconsin before returning to KDPA for a second night.



The next morning I left Dupage at sunrise, heading around the south of Lake Michigan and picking up an hour as I dodged under a thin broken layer and landed at KDET Detroit City for a breakfast work meeting. My colleague told me to meet him on Woodward and 9-mile, which I misheard as 8-mile (seemed odd, but whatever - Detroit is exciting like that) and when I arrived at the intersection, the Uber driver refused to drop me there, instead taking me to a mall parking lot, where I then waited for another another Uber to the breakfast place in the friendlier neighbourhood of Ferndale.

Whilst heading back to the airport, I watched two guys riding down the road on the roof of a city-owned backhoe. I work in the car industry and go to Detroit a bit, and I love it - it's kind of feral and the people are mostly excellent.

From Detroit I was torn between heading back to Palm Springs to see my wife and boy (who had just got back from a five-week visit to see family in the UK) or keep going east. My wife talked me into going east, since she knew there was another thing out there that I really wanted to tick off the list. She has no interest in flying but she likes that I enjoy it and encourages me to do so at every opportunity, which is something. I tapped my route into Foreflight and pressed on.

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James
Palm Springs CA
1992 O-360 CS RV-6
2020 paid

Last edited by jamlip : 08-29-2021 at 01:43 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:25 PM
jamlip jamlip is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Posts: 133
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Heading south out of Detroit I crossed into Canada, then re-entered US airspace in Ohio, where I stopped at Port Clinton to see 'the Tin Goose'. I had no idea what this Tin Goose was, assuming it was a diner (which it was), but also discovering that it was a Ford Trimotor in restoration at a weird but interesting, neat and well-kept little museum. It was a cool stop.





After Port Clinton, I stopped for fuel in Tri-Cities airport NY, where I watched a huge wolf cross the runway, and then a Piper Warrior get deep into one of the worst landings I've ever seen with my own eyes, followed by the student PIC failing his checkride.



By now I really was a long way from Southern California. Out of Tri-Cities, I continued east across a landscape much greener and flatter than my desert home. The RV is fast - 174 knots true - and I love the speed. Before long I could see the skyline NYC and my heart started to beat a little faster. The ride was choppy descending out of 11500, but became noticeably smoother as I levelled out over the Hudson River, and soon I was able to relax a little. My goal was to transition the Hudson Special Flight Rules Area - an uncontrolled sightseeing tour of Manhattan in a slice of airspace below the Bravo shelf, and my altitude of 1100ft felt ridiculous, illegal even, after nearly a week of crossing the country so high up. I grew up (and learned to fly) near London, where you can't fly a piston single anywhere near the city, let alone right down on the deck like this. To be able to do this, especially after everything that went on in that city in 2001, is simply So. ****. Cool.

America.









As luck would have it, a friend of mine from California happened to be in Wilmington Delaware doing some G550 training, so I continued south and stayed the night there overnight, tucking the RV away in this hangar with some Falcons.



The next day he, I and some airline pilot friends of his flew down, in a random assortment of machinery, to Cape May. It was a beautiful day - the beaches were filled, banner planes flew underneath and we stopped at the airport for lunch.

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James
Palm Springs CA
1992 O-360 CS RV-6
2020 paid

Last edited by jamlip : 08-28-2021 at 06:41 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:25 PM
jamlip jamlip is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Palm Springs, CA
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On the way back to Delaware I flew in formation with an SNJ, and after that, had my first go in a Stearman (this one with a Wasp-Junior up front). As I said - America.





By now I was missing home, but had one last East Coast stop I wanted to do - an important one, since I enjoy history, and in particular, stories about people who have had a go at nutty stuff . After a decent run of CAVOK, the weather was also beginning to turn iffy, with a big front moving in from the north. If I wanted to do this, I kind of had to get a move on.

So I did. Through a setting sun I made my way south. My destination airport was unlit, and forward visibility was beginning to deteriorate. I stopped for fuel three times - the first two airports having broken pumps - which put me right into darkness as I crossed the islands of the Outer Banks, on my way to Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Preferring not to smash my plane into the birthplace of flight, I diverted inland to KONX Currituck Co Regional, where the airport manager let me sleep on the sofa in the briefing room.

The next morning, before sunrise and after a meal of cold tinned soup leftover from my Oshkosh rations, I skimmed above a thin dusting of advection fog for the 20 minute flight south, to KFFA, First Flight / Wright Brothers Memorial. Touching down on runway 21, I spied two deer in the long grass, and skidded to a halt. My own first experiences of flying were out of a field in southern England, where the deer would always run in front of your plane when spooked. Turns out American deer are idiots too, and behaved exactly as anticipated.



The Wright Brothers monument was beautiful, and extremely heavy in atmosphere. The sun had risen behind the bank of low cloud out over the Atlantic, casting a strange light, and the air was cool, damp, thick and silent, save for the crash of the ocean nearby. Provided you're not talking to a French person about balloons, this really is where it all began - where the world was changed forever - and you can definitely feel it.



The brothers started their experiments by jumping (mostly) from this hill, called Big Kill Devil, in gliders in 1900. Three years later, being keen home builders in pursuit of Total Performance, they strapped on an engine and launched from a metal rail on the flat area below.



It was fascinating to see the progress they made on their first four powered flights in December 1903 - flights one, two and three are mere hops, but the fourth attempt is a monster - 852ft, with a flight time of 59 seconds. You can just imagine Wilbur laying there and saying 'right, enough messing around - I think I've got this now - let's go'.

I walked down to the stone block that marked the landing point marker, and looked back across the field. The hairs on my arms stood up. This is the spot that it must have fully dawned on the brothers that they had invented controllable, sustained flight. And from there, development of this technology exploded at a speed never before seen in history.

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Palm Springs CA
1992 O-360 CS RV-6
2020 paid
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  #4  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:26 PM
jamlip jamlip is offline
 
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Location: Palm Springs, CA
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By now, dog walkers and joggers had started to arrive in the park. The early morning mist had all but burnt off, and with it most of the site’s intense ambience. I could see weather to the west, and I was aware the forecast was for the conditions to deteriorate rapidly and heavily before 10am. I jumped in the RV and rolled out to the east, my prop cutting a spiral vapour trail through the damp air.

Although I had decided to make Oshkosh in a day, I had never intended to do the same going home. I reached my first stop, Monroe Ga with relative ease, but as I pressed on through the humid skies of Alabama and Mississippi, I became forced to weave amongst towering columns of bubbling cloud, with tops well above 18,000.



At the ancient wood-panelled FBO in Vivian La., I warmed another tin of soup, which, not wanting to waste a moment longer on the ground, I sipped out of a water bottle as I continued to ducked and weaved west, through weather which by now had become more stratified and uniform, although increasingly dark and weirder-looking.



Approaching Dallas, I was met with one of the largest storms I have ever seen from the air. Distant lightning became less distant and almost rhythmic, flashing off my left and right as if in reply to the wingtip strobes. Despite this, and aside from some very ominous-looking, low-ish cloud ahead, my route ahead remained miraculously VFR. The controller announced DFW closed to arrivals just as I was cleared through the Bravo, and I watched it drown beneath an enormous soot-coloured wall of water as dozens of airliners circled the area.





West of DFW, having climbed back up to 10500ft, I was met with my own wall of water to contend with. No longer were the clouds bubbly, or stratified, but instead anvil-shaped, with trails of clag that extended for a hundred miles north. Turning around, and anticipating a diversion to an airport somewhere in the local area, I descended in VFR to 1000 AGL and was surprised to find that I could again see far to the west in decent visibility.

After an uneventful stop at Plainview Tx, wide open farmland gave way to the mountains of the American West, and descending for more weather, I managed to lose contact with Albuquerque Centre. I set my second radio to 121.5 and was able to hear a new controller trying to get hold of me, but my replies went unreceived. Having owned plenty of old crates with marginal comms, this was the first time the radios in my RV-6 had ever let me down, and it was extremely frustrating to hear this controller evidently concerned for my safety as I fly towards rising terrain, surrounded by a sea of malevolent cells.



As it happened, I was in fine visibility, albeit lower than I would have preferred, and slightly amazed that I was, after all this time and distance still able to pick my way through this giant mess.

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Palm Springs CA
1992 O-360 CS RV-6
2020 paid
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  #5  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:27 PM
jamlip jamlip is offline
 
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Location: Palm Springs, CA
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After some time the controller and I were able to relay messages, first via an AA flight overhead, then Delta. It was awkward and time consuming, but I very much appreciated his effort in looking out for me. This is one of the key differences I’ve noticed from Europe to the US - in the US, the controller is (mostly) there to help pilots achieve their goal of a safe and efficient flight. I hope that relationship never changes.



Somewhere north of Phoenix I was able to regain regular contact with a new controller. I had planned to go straight over Phoenix to my next stop at Wickenburg, but having been pushed so far north, my direct now took me just south of Flagstaff. For 40 minutes I sat only a few thousand feet above forested mountainous terrain that would almost certainly have left me dead if the motor decided to quit.



This wasn’t a situation I wanted to be in, and I was relieved to be on the ground at Wickenburg before dusk.

I had chosen Wickenburg as my final stop because the fuel was cheap (this being my main criteria for route planning) but really what I should have paid attention to was the fact that this airport is in a fairly remote area, and amongst mountains. By now the sun had long set and the surrounding area was dark to the point of having no discernable terrain. If flying over these mountains in daylight had bothered me, the slow climb (having now 52 gallons of fuel on board again) over the same mountainous landscape, in absolute darkness, was really not my cup of tea. I ascended in the pattern until I was above the 4000ft MSA, then headed south towards the interstate - my preferred place to hang out over the desert at night - all the time wondering at what point my engine would explode. By now I had been in the air for 13 hours and my addled mind was running away with me.

To the left was Mexico, where the stars hung in the sky like dust particles, as if to appear 3D. It was beautiful beyond belief, and I wasn't sure if I might be hallucinating. Palm Springs was 160 miles on the horizon, with the orange glow of LA behind. I was overwhelmed, and for once I couldn’t bring myself to speak on the radio, so I sat, gazing into the vast darkness around me, having never been so grateful for having an autopilot.



Direct TRM VORTAC, then turn right towards the green-white beacon at the Palm Springs airport. I can hear the controller is kind of annoyed that I hadn’t come to him via the SoCal Terminal Radar Approach, but I can’t really do words anymore and I wonder if he thinks I’m drunk. Not much happens at PSP come nightfall, so it’s a straight-in, with an unexpected greaser onto 31L, to polish off this massive, truly fantastic extravaganza of Type 2 Fun.

Just, as a kid, I could never have imagined I would one day fly a real aircraft past the Chicago skyline, so too, in later years, had I never imagined I would be able to own a Vans RV or be able to cross the continent in a day. I pretty much rescued this thing from the back of someone’s hangar, sorting out some major issues and giving it a new lease of life, and I feel like it really returned the favour on this trip in delivering some experiences I will never forget. Love this RV-6 greatly - what an incredible device.

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Palm Springs CA
1992 O-360 CS RV-6
2020 paid

Last edited by jamlip : 08-28-2021 at 06:40 PM.
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  #6  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:43 PM
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scard scard is offline
 
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WOW! I think you checked most of the boxes. Thanks for all the work it took to share that report!
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  #7  
Old 08-28-2021, 06:56 PM
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AlexPeterson AlexPeterson is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scard View Post
WOW! I think you checked most of the boxes. Thanks for all the work it took to share that report!
Ditto what Scott said!
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Old 08-28-2021, 08:02 PM
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Foghorn Foghorn is offline
 
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Great report! We need a like button. 👍
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2021, 08:28 PM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
 
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A fantastic report on an epic trip. From First Flight to Palm Springs in a day; just... wow.

And it's not just you on the Flight Sim Meigs thing; as a kid in the early '80s I basically taught myself to fly on the Sublogic and later Microsoft flight sim, so I can relate to your feelings on flying past Meigs in your very own (real!) airplane. I've done the Chicago shoreline tour twice now in my RV-8... just wish I'd had the chance to actually land there.

Thank you James!
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Old 08-28-2021, 08:43 PM
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rvguy811 rvguy811 is offline
 
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Hey! thanks for posting😁👍 Looks like a great trip. The RV-6 is a great machine. Trip Reports like this keep the builder building!! As Rosie says “keep pounding them rivets”
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