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Across the USA in a CTSW by Kent Wien

My day job has me flying ‘transcons’ from NY to LA and San Francisco quite a few times a month. But the thought of flying the CT across the country never seemed like an easy proposition.

But when my 16-year old daughter, who lives in Germany said she wanted to see more of the United States in our CTsw, how could I say no? She came up with a plan to go from New York to Seattle and drop in at some of the locations where Laura Ingalls Wilder (who wrote the ‘Little House on the Prairie’) grew up. After aligning the dates, I noticed that AirVenture in Oshkosh would be happing right around the time we were flying by that area.

We packed up enough clothes for two weeks into our L.L. Bean duffel bags, which fit perfectly in the CT by the way, and another bag with a lightweight tent, sleeping bags and pads, along with the usual airplane related gear such as tie downs, oil and cleaning supplies.

Even with full fuel, all our gear and the bags, we came in at 50 pounds under max gross weight.

Our first leg was from Poughkeepsie, where the plane is based, to Niagara Falls, NY. We climbed above the scattered clouds, finally reaching 8,500’ and enjoyed a perfectly smooth ride all the way. At Niagara Falls airport, we were met by the friendliest FBO I’ve ever encountered, Calspan Air Services, who let us use their crew car for the evening. We jumped at the chance to see the falls after checking in to our hotel. Seeing them lit up at sunset and catching the fireworks show they do every night was a highlight of our trip.

On the second day, we woke up early to fly in the smooth air from Niagara Falls over Ontario and into Michigan where my brother lives on an airpark at Newman’s field near Kalamazoo. Later that evening, we hopped back into the CT and flew formation with my brother and his wife over to a place to eat dinner. It was a great opportunity to get some nice pictures as well.

The next morning was Saturday, the second to last day of AirVenture. I have been 4 times before, but this would be the first time I had flown into the event. After printing up all the pages of the notam and studying it well, we left at 10 a.m., expecting to arrive at about 12:30 at the show. I was dreading the gridlock I had heard so much about.

After takeoff, we climbed over the scattered clouds to get above the bumps, arriving at Lake Michigan in the clear and working our way around the lake, by Chicago on the ‘flyway’ below 1500 feet.

In fact, the arrival into Oshkosh couldn’t have been easier. There were periods of silence on the radio while we were nearing the waypoint at RIPPON. When we arrived, we were the first of a group of three. A quick rock of the wings when requested, and we were off to land on 36R without ever having to say a word.

Upon landing, the ‘judges’ gave us wildly varying scores of 7, 5, 9, 7, and 1! Enya felt we got robbed on the last score.