EAA Airventure Oshkosh is a great annual event. Airplane enthusiasts wait all year to go back and visit their ‘Oshkosh friends’ eat too many brats and do a deep-dive into to incredible amount of aviation packed into that airport for the week. I have been going to Oshkosh professionally since 1980 (gulp, 38 years) and though I too love it, I have a different relationship with the show. Anyone who has done a ‘trade show’ knows what I’m talking about. Part of this joy is the weeks of preparation for the show, driving the trailer, building the booth, press conferences, dealer meetings, supplier meetings, talking nonstop, then breaking down and ugh, then driving the trailer home. Imagine how wonderful it is to be able to fly off over the horizon on the last night of the show and leave all of that behind? Fantastic!
Here we are (CTLSi GT N906LS and one happy fella) Sunday evening after we sneaked to the very front of the line the second we were allowed to line up. The C5 in front was stuck in place due to the proximity of a nearby Jumbo-Tron TV screen which they almost hit while being backed out with a tug!
CTLSi GT N906LS is equipped with the latest panel offered by Flight Design general aviation, the Dynon SkyView integrated avionics system. It features three Dynon HDX (2 x 10” and 1 x 7”) screens, a Dynon Com radio, Dynon Intercom, Dynon remote ‘Class One’ transponder (for ADS-B out) and Dynon SV ADS-B 472 (for ADS-B in).
The concept and installation were created FD distributor and consultant John Hurst of Lake Placid Florida, which he had tested on his demo CTLSi for more than a year while he worked with Dynon developing the software to support the 3rd screen. The left screen is the PFD (Primary Flight Display), the Center screen is primarily used as an EMS (Engine Management System) but we call it a MFD (Multi-Function Display) but that could be said about all three screens (more later) and finally, the right hand screen is primarily for a large area raster image map.
I had always used the center located Garmin 796 on other CTLS as my ‘go-to’ for navigation and XM weather as it was easier than using the older, less user-friendly versions Dynon navigation system. Well, the functionality and ease-of-use has greatly improved with every free software upgrade (note the word free) offered by Dynon and now it is just great. With the all Dynon system it is electrically very quiet and intuitive in its function. You can use the screens to bring up a transponder touch pad, an autopilot touch pad and many easy-to-use features.
Departing KOSH as part of the stream leaving the show I immediately came upon the first thunderstorm near Milwaukee Wisconsin. The image is of Lake Michigan depicting the line of flight across the lake.
You can just see the little CTLS in the center near the MOA (military Operating Area) to the East and the cute little thunderstorms to just the South of my line of flight. The ADS-B weather is a big help navigating the cells and seeing the bigger picture. I chose to skirt the edge of the MOA which I figure was used for the military display aircraft and their re-fueling tankers during the show. Typically, the flight across the lake is a nail biter but honestly, I was so tired after 10 days of Oshkosh it hardly registered. I also believe that the aircraft does not know it is over water either. I did however buy and bring along a re-conditioned airline emergency safety vest for $65 bucks from Univair at the show, which I did not use!
This picture was taken pretty much in the center of Lake Michigan. Not much air or boat traffic. I did monitor Milwaukee tower and it wasn’t long before I could see the other side of the lake West of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had intended to fly to either Hillsdale Michigan or even better, Elyria County airport near Cleveland Ohio to stop for the night but the weather had other plans.
I found myself saying “I can squeeze between those two cells” and then slapped myself and decided to land at Kalamazoo. Well, a friend of Flight Design named Kurt Wien and brother of a Flight Design CTSW owner Kent Wien lives near Kalamazoo so I texted Kent to give me his brother’s phone number and the identifier of the airpark where he and his lovely wife live. Pressing the ‘nearest’ button on the Skyview screen showed Zero NM to the airport, huh? “Oh-Wow I’m right over it!”
After unbelievable ‘4B hospitality on demand’ (Bath, Beer, Bed, Breakfast), typical of the Wien family, I departed the next morning just after 6AM. The forecast looked pretty good up to Erie Pennsylvania where light rain was forecast but heck, it’s the Mid-Summer in the Midwest, you’re going to get that.
I don’t get to fly often in ‘the system’ often as my typical flight is either local/regional for fun or most of the time up and down doing post-maintenance and new plane check out flights. Today’s flight from Kalamazoo to Connecticut was big for me and shame on me, I’m not all comfortable with calling approach and navigating airspace.
I had made the wise move of purchasing the Seattle Avionics Sectional and approach plates download for $99.00 a year before the show and it was a great help finding the right frequencies and the correct folks to talk to on the flight. I remember not very long-ago juggling sectionals, the AOPA guide, my notes and flying with the stick between my knees tuning the radio. Hooray for 2018 and autopilots!
As you can see from this picture the day was not quite as ‘simple’ as the forecast predicted, how many times have we heard that? The thunderstorms this time were not cute little cells, but fortunately being the morning in middle of the Summer they were not fast moving and near Toledo Express airport I decided to go to the lake again (this time Lake Erie, as in ‘15 miles on the Erie Canal’) which avoided a lot of airspace and kept me further away from the weather. Again, if I didn’t have the big picture of the weather, I would not have flown that day or kept flying.
After Cleveland, aside from a little rain near Erie Pennsylvania, the weather improved a lot, which also allowed me to climb up to take advantage of the 912iS’ high altitude performance coupled with the long legs of the CTLSi, to make some progress towards home! Moving from one FAA Center to another was a snap having the correct frequency information handy and being able to send it over to the Dynon Com with a button push is sublime.
Cruising at 9500 Ft and 114 kts right on the edge of the economy cruise was very nice and as you can see the weather really started to cooperate. A quick stop at Elmira New York, the former home to Schweitzer Sailplanes for a tank of fuel and a drink I was off again heading first to the Hudson Valley just upriver from New York City, then a lovely cruise across Connecticut.
Right over the top of KBDL our local Class C airport and the Connecticut River which goes from the Canadian border to the Ocean at the Connecticut shoreline I could see my destination. A gentle descent over UConn, the University of Connecticut into the ‘Last Green Valley’ in Eastern Connecticut was a nice way to end a long and actually comfortable flight.
Our business is located at 64CT in South Woodstock which is private airport just West of the Rhode Island border near the town of Putnam, Connecticut. The airport was recently re-paved by the incredibly generous and energetic owners, Ed and Joanne Baker, who are BTW, also CTLS owners.
The total flight time was just over 8 hours for the two days and I arrived home just after 1PM (13:00) in the afternoon. I had always thought that ‘over equipping’ our aircraft with all the latest technology was a good idea. My thinking was if having synthetic vision allows a tired pilot to find his was to an airport in MVFR (Marginal VFR) then he’d probably think it was a good investment to have it on board. I can confirm that all the technology is great if it relieves workload and let’s you manage the flight. Now I cannot wait to fly up the coast of Maine before the snow flies!