Sometimes you think back to those high points in your life and the memories flood in. One of those times for me was the trip to Oshkosh that my Dad and I made in the late 1980’s.
As it turned out, this trip with my Dad was my second trip to the annual EAA fly-in – but it was the first time by air (I’d joined some friends in an RV for my first visit). It was Dad’s first time flying with me for any distance – and what a great trip we had! We flew my Cherokee 235 out from California to Wisconsin – stopping to visit relatives along the way in Spearfish, South Dakota.
I’ll never forget us departing Spearfish and making a couple of low orbits over my Dad’s sister’s farm in eastern South Dakota as we made the final leg into Oshkosh that day. We had called ahead (those were the days before cell phones in every pocket!) and gave them our estimated time of arrival overhead – it was such fun to see my Dad’s sister and her husband outside waving us on – a big, big treat for my Dad!
Arrival in Oshkosh is truly something to behold. As an in-bound pilot, you’re on your tiptoes as the air traffic controllers walk you down the approach and onto the runway. “Red and white Cherokee, rock your wings – you’re number 3 for landing…” Truly amazing how many airplanes they handle. Fortunately, we arrived safely!
We stayed in the dorms at the local university while we took in the airshow grounds and sights every day. I think we were there for the first airshow demonstration ever flown by an SR-71 Blackbird – which took off from Beale Air Force Base in California something like 40 minutes before arriving overhead at Oshkosh!
This trip was truly one of those trips of a lifetime – for both my Dad and me. We had great fun together and really enjoyed ourselves. He was a great co-pilot along the way! The memory of this special trip will stay with both of us forever.