Travels to EAA Airventure Oshkosh

by HPA · August 25, 2013

Travels to EAA Airventure Oshkosh

by Sarah Rovner (Commercial Pilot & FAASTeam Representative)

EAA Airventure Oshkosh has long been referred to as “Mecca” for pilots. The EAA claims it is the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration”, where both pilots and performers gather for a week-long celebration of almost every type of aviation you can think of. From homebuilts to warbirds, the airport is lined with thousands of airplanes all there for the same purpose. Air traffic controllers in pink shirts come from all over the country to man remote stations and work in “The World’s Busiest Control Tower”. It is quite the experience for any pilot, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it this year.

I had planned on flying to Oshkosh for over a year. I found out about a type group called the “Cessnas2Oshkosh”, who fly in formation as part of a mass arrival to Oshkosh every year. Flying a Cessna 182T G1000, I was inclined to go with them for the mass arrival.


I left Houston on Friday, July 26th and headed to Juneau, Wisconsin where the Cessnas2Oshkosh stage for the mass arrival. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t look like it wanted to cooperate. There was a long line of embedded thunderstorms spanning from Texas to Iowa. I received a full briefing from flight service, and learned it was moving east at about 25kts. When I took off, it was 200 miles west of our course and I figured we could get to St. Louis before it got in our way. The airplane was equipped with NEXRAD, but I know better than to put too much confidence in NEXRAD because of delays. Luckily, we were able to stay dry most of the flight to St. Louis and did a visual approach into CPS.

After having lunch at the FBO, we headed out once again. I got another 2 hours of actual IFR and finally made it to Juneau, where it was sunny but surprisingly cold. The temperature had dropped about 40 degrees since St. Louis. Coming from Houston, none of us had thought to bring a jacket.

The next morning, we did a full flight brief and lined up to take off together. We flew in flights of 3, with the first two airplanes landing on 35L (normally 35 at the airport), and the 3rd airplane landing on 35R (the parallel taxiway). I was position 3, so I had the entire runway to myself. We made it to Oshkosh safely and had a lot of fun doing it. The next morning, the Oshkosh newspaper mistakenly published a picture of the Bonanza arrival and titled it “Cessnas2Oshkosh taxi in…” We couldn’t figure out who was more embarrassed – the Cessnas or Bonanzas.



After tying down the airplane we pulled out the tent and set up camp. We had some great neighbors and shared stories every night at the campsite. The Cessna pilots consisted of everything from doctors to skydivers to airline pilots. Everyone had an interesting story to tell, and it was nice to meet other Cessna pilots from all over the country.


During the event, I was able to see some very interesting airplanes and technology. I was surprised at how far technology has come for general aviation, both experimental and certified. Later in the week I attended a workshop where I learned to cover fabric winged airplanes and even helped cover a B-17 elevator.

Overall, it was a fun week. However, as the week neared its end, I decided I wanted to stop at a few other places on the way back to Houston. One place I had heard about was the Beaumont Hotel, a bed and breakfast in Beaumont, KS (07S). It’s a 2400ft grass field, and after landing you taxi down the town’s main road and stop at a stop sign to get to the hotel. I had to pull out the POH and make sure the airplane could get into a field of that length. We were almost at max gross weight with the camping equipment, and a glass cockpit 182 isn’t something most people would land on a short grass runway. I did the calculation and came to the conclusion that the airport was suitable for the airplane.


We left Oshkosh and went VFR the entire way to Kansas. I had an uneventful landing at the Beaumont hotel, and parked the airplane in the shade under a tree. The hotel and people were wonderful, and we had a great time staying there. It is a place I would definitely recommend to other pilots. They have monthly fly-ins and complimentary breakfast to pilots flying in.

After Beaumont, I decided to try a place in Oklahoma called the Atlus/Quartz Mountain Resort. When I first heard the name, I thought to myself “what mountains are there in Oklahoma?” However, upon arrival there was an array of small “mountains” around a lake. We landed at Atlus Airport (AXS) and were able to take the crew car overnight to the resort.

The next morning, we went back to the airport for a WINGS seminar and pancake breakfast. I helped John Boatright of the Lubbock FSDO set up for the seminar where he presented on the dangers flying into thunderstorms. He called the seminar “I Wouldn’t Kiss a Badger on the Lips or Fly into a Thunderstorm” and he was very animated in his presentation. It was very informative, and a good reminder of the dangers of severe weather.

After the seminar we returned to Houston uneventfully. I did not miss the humidity but it was also good to be home. I now look forward to Oshkosh 2014, which will bring about another great adventure!


Sarah Rovner

Sarah Rovner is a commercial airplane pilot based in Houston, TX who enjoys flying her G1000-equipped Cessna 182 for personal and business travel. She is also active as a mission pilot in the Civil Air Patrol, a humanitarian pilot with Angel Flight, a tow pilot for a local glider field, FAASTeam Representative and EAA Young Eagles pilot. She enjoys flying to and exploring new places, and is currently working toward her CFI rating.

How it Started

One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.

Training Begins

It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.

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The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.

First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).


At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.

Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.

Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.

In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.

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