Right Elevator
Left Elevator

Spar Prep
More Tanks
Tanks Alot
Final Assembly

F-704 Bulkhead
F-705 Bulkhead
Center Section

Misc. Notes




Oshkosh 2004

Cool RV Pictures | Ugly Airplane Pictures | Newest RV-10

This was my second year to visit Oshkosh, and once again it was a huge thrill. If you like airplanes, you owe it to yourself to make plans to attend AirVenture.

This year was different because I was able to fly up with a friend of mine in his Bonanza. Four of us fit quite nicely in his fast plane, and before you know it we were landing at West Bend, Wisconsin. He prefers to fly into the less crowded airport, so we drove up to Oshkosh, which is only about a 45 minute drive. Incidentally, we also found good lodging in West Bend, as well as many un-crowded restaurants, which is a rarity in Oshkosh during AirVenture.

The flight from McKinney to West Bend was interesting because of the weather. We had intended to leave at about 7am, but we were disappointed to wake up to thunderstorms, so we didn't depart until after 11am. No worries, since the trip only takes 4 1/2 hours in the Bonanza! My friend, Max, is an instrument-rated pilot, so he filed an IFR flight plan so we could get up through the clouds. Here is a picture over the left wing of some vertical development. This was typical for our entire flight.
I am not accustomed to flying "in the clouds," and this was definitely not a day that goofy VFR pilots like me are ever in the air. Fortunately, the plane has a really nice, new avionics package with in-flight weather. This turned out to be totally great for the flight. We could see and avoid the bad stuff. We ended up flying along the storm front, which would really have been dicey without the weather map. The system even has a traffic display, which alerts you if another plane is within 5 or 10 miles of you. I was totally interested in how this all worked, so I took lots of pictures.
You can see our little plane flying along the pink line towards our waypoint. The green and yellow on the map is rain. We flew around this storm, and then along the edge of another storm. Notice the little box in the left corner. This shows that there is another plane in our vicinity. If we changed to the traffic display, it would tell us the altitude. This made spotting planes a little easier, although in some cases the clouds made it impossible. I am sure someday these systems will be as common as GPS. I can't wait!
Well, enough of the flight. We arrived safely, and after a nice dinner we decided to head up to Oshkosh to see if we could get in. The traffic was all heading out of the airport at 7pm, so it was a bit difficult to find how to get "in" to the parking lot. We still had no idea if we would even be allowed onto the grounds, but we parked and walked up to the gate. A nice girl working at the gate asked if we had passes, and then handed us wristbands so we could walk around! That was really cool. We went to the Theater in the Woods and saw Burt Rutan and Mike Melville give their presentation about SpaceShipOne. That was really cool to hear those guys speak first hand about such a historic event. They also showed some cockpit video from the flight that was really amazing. Apparently there's a Discovery Channel special in the works!

Friday we arrived at Wittman Regional nice and early, and I quickly made a bee line for the forums area where Superior was doing an engine rebuild. I missed the first session where they assembled the case and cylinders, but it was still interesting to watch them build up the accessory housing and add magnetos and other vital parts. I learned what some things looked like that I had only heard of by name. I don't consider myself much of an engine person, so any information I can pick up is better than nothing.

The next session I went to was about RV fiberglass fairings. The instructor showed how to use clear clay to mold the shape of the fairing, and then he talked about the various types of resin, the cloth, and the tools he uses. Compared to aluminum construction, I felt like I was in art class! The man's name is Sam James, and he has a video called Fiberglass 101, which I think would be useful to learn the basics of making fairings. I may get the video. His company also produces some great cowls.
The rest of the day I spent looking at airplanes. I took a bunch of pictures of RVs, which you can see by clicking here. I spoke with several builders who all seemed very willing to show off their planes. There was a wide range of workmanship on display, and hopefully I can fall somewhere in the middle, preferably closer to the high quality end of the pool. Specifically I was looking for RV-9A examples, so I was pumped to see a really nice -9A in front of the Flying Magazine tent. The display had signs telling about the owner and how long it took to build, but I forgot to take a picture of the signs, so if this is your plane, let me know and I will give you credit.

Ironically, I didn't even make it over to the Van's booth on Friday. I did go and talk to some of the vendors, who on Friday still had a little life left in them. By Sunday, they were all pretty much ready to go home!

I talked to engine people, avionics people, radio people, parts people, people people, basically anyone who would talk to me about airplane stuff. After the experience with the in-flight weather service, I was very interested in speaking with all the companies who were offering these services in different forms. Did you know you can get real-time weather on your cell phone?!

Saturday was another nice day. I went to the Van's booth and asked a bunch of questions about the -9A demonstrator they had on display. Bob was good enough to let me sit in the plane and make airplane noises until the cops came. (just kidding about the cops.) Specifically I was concerned about seat adjustments, rudder pedal distances, and canopy clearance. Since I am building a slider I was very glad to get in an example of a slider and try it out. All the other RVs I've sat in have been tip-ups. This sure is a nice plane. I want one!

I had an idea at SWRFI in the spring that it would be fun to assemble a collection of pictures of truly ugly airplanes. So, with my camera around my neck I hiked up and down the flight line in search of pathetic planes. Apparently they don't let the really nasty planes up near the flight line, because I only found 11 planes that I thought were ugly. Maybe I should have gone to the Piper booth! :-)

Here's a picture of a moderately ugly plane that was upgraded by adding a smiley face to the cowl!

See my ugly planes pictures here!


By the way, have you seen the first builder-completed RV-10? It's amazing...click here! I think the builder made some small design changes. :-)

In the afternoon I was fortunate to be able to go to a forum led by Bob Nuckolls, also known as "Lectric Bob," author of The Aeroelectric Connection. I bought his book a few months ago, so I wanted to hear what he had to say. He is quite a character, and I enjoyed his talk very much. I will definitely be using his book when it comes time to design my electrical system. I highly recommend his book to anyone building an airplane. I will probably save about 10 pounds of useful load by following his suggestions, not to mention that the plane will probably be several times safer than your average rental plane!

I did buy a couple of tools, but nothing significant. I bought a calibrated 1/4" torque wrench with inch-pounds dialed in on the handle. I also bought a SmartTool, which is my new favorite tool. It's a level that I can actually use! I also got a new bucking bar and another pair of cleco pliers. Fun stuff!

Sunday we were only at the show for a few hours, but I was able to snap some nice pictures of several RVs leaving the show. The flight home was uneventful compared to the first one, but I got to play with the SL-30 NAV/COM, which I think is a great value for what it does. I hope I can find one before I run out of money!