We headed back to the tent and spent the next hour or so packing everything up (I took some pictures of everything going into the plane - it was a lot, but NOTHING compared to all the crap Wayne Hicks and I stuffed into it for S&F three years ago :-) ).
Ted Davis appeared, ready for his ride, and I went and got my camping refund and delivered a can of high-temp epoxy to Steve Wright from Matt Overholt. He's going to do some "experiments" under the cowl, I assume.
Jon got in the back with the stuff, Ted got in the front, and we waited for an orange shirt motorbike guy to lead us out of Nirvana (to runway 36L). Eventually they came, we taxied out, and took off to the north using the standard 200 ft. turn to a heading of 150 degrees while staying below 500 ft. AGL until out of KOSH's airspace. We then climbed up to 3500 ft. and I let Ted fly for 20 minutes or so as we meandered down towards Fond du Lac. Ted's only got about 25 hours - no certificate yet, but he had no problem keeping the plane right side up. Guess what? we did some turns and stalls, and turning stalls :-).
We then headed into Fond du Lac, where Ted's wife (whose name I can't remember - I SUCK at names - I apologize, Ted) and Dennis Passey had driven to pick him up, since I didn't want to have to fly back into KOSH. They got there about 30 seconds after we landed. Ted was psyched about the flight, and when his wife asked him how it was, it said "It was great - you'll be terrified!". I wanted to smack him! :-). What kind of thing is that to say to the person that needs to agree to let you finish/fly the plane :-). I told her that there's nothing terrifying about it, but Ted kept trying to dig the hole he was in even deeper, while Dennis, Jon and I were trying to get him to be quiet :-).
Anyway, it was all in good fun, and everyone left with a smile on their faces. Jon and I checked the weather one last time, got a snack for the plane, hit the bathroom, and took off for a 4 hour flight to New Jersey. The route was Fond du Lac, WI (KFLD) to West Bend, WI (KETB) [this would take us south of the Restricted area over Lake Michigan], to Sandusky, OH (S24), to Central Jersey Regional, NJ (47N). We climbed through a hole in a thin layer of clouds at about 5K ft., and went up to 9500 ft. to start. When we got past KETB, I started a climb to 11.5K ft. - the altitude I wanted for the lake crossing. The sky was absolutely clear and visibility was great, with a layer of broken clouds below us that came and went. We were probably out of gliding distance of land for a total of 10-15 minutes, but we could see lots of boats in the water, so if we had to put it down near someone, we could. Jon's taking his PP ground school, so for the first hour or two I put him to work twiddling the VOR, taking cross radial readings (I only have one VOR, so he had to WORK!), checking the maps, figuring out where we were every 10 minutes, and cross checking all that against what the GPS said, as well as tuning in ATIS and AWOS reports from airports 20 - 50 miles ahead of wherever we were at the time. Nothing like DOING it to learn something. Plus, it meant _I_ didn't have to do it :-).
The air was SO calm up there that there were times I went 10 minutes between touching the stick to adjust altitude (the Navaid took care of the course for us). Somewhere over Ohio, the clouds built up a bit higher, and we climbed up to 13.5K ft. to get over/around them. We put on the two O2 masks, I turned the regulator to 1 L/min., and we both decided that we felt a bit better after putting the masks on.
On we flew, with about a 10 Kt. tailwind - our ground speed was about 186 Kt., burning 8.8 gal/hr. 13.5K ft. is REALLY high :-). We ate the snacks and watched the clouds, while keeping up the navigation chores as listed above. Around Allentown, PA, we started our descent at about 700 ft/min. When we got to 7500 ft., we took off the O2 masks and I went to turn off the tank. It was at that point that I realized that I had done something EXTREMELY stupid, which was that when we put the O2 ON, I had turned on the regulator, but HAD NOT OPENED THE O2 VALVE. We had NOT been using O2 at all for the two hours we were at 13.5K ft. Amazingly enough, the power of the mind had made us both FEEL a bit better when we put the masks on, because we EXPECTED to feel better. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Another lesson learned, without any catastrophe.
At any rate, it was REALLY hazy in the mid-New Jersey region, but we were able to find the airport (which I've been to a number of times before) and make a decent landing. Jon's family was there to welcome us, and we unloaded Jon's stuff, I swapped ballast back to the nose, and we said our goodbyes.
I then took off, flew around the NY class B airspace to the west, and then climbed up to 7500 ft. for the short 1 hour ride back to Fitchburg, MA (KFIT). After about 1/2 hour, the fuel flow gauge started flashing at me that I was going to land with less than the 45 minute reserve that I had programmed it to warn me about - no problem on a VFR flight. I had run the right tank dry on the way from KFLD to 47N, so I knew that while I had TOLD the FF gauge that I had 54 gallons aboard, I REALLY had closer to 57-58 gallons, and only had to have about 5 gallons left for legal VFR reserves. I landed with 7-9 gallons left in the tank.
A great end to a great trip (one minor catastrophe with Curt Smith's
plane and my tent excepted). This was a strange Oshkosh for me - I spent almost NO
time looking at vendors or airplanes - I spent almost the whole time just
talking to people. It was great :-).
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