Author Archives: Mark Dickens

Teddy Gets a Ride

Teddy is a rather portly Pomeranian mix that was surrendered to Wilson County, TN Animal Control by his elderly and ailing owners, and he needed to get to Searcy, AR to the Recycled Pomeranians and Schipperkes Rescue. Just my type of mission. Fly over to Lebanon, TN and then take him to Searcy, AR and get home by 11:30 AM. The poor boy was so nervous, his life having been turned upside down, but he was well behaved and a good passenger. One more pup saved and a great day of flying to boot!

More Puppies on a Plane!

I really love flying dogs (and cats when I get the chance) out of harms way. My RV-8 is not an ideal dog hauler and I have to be careful with the commitments I make to Pilots N Paws because of this.

Recently, I volunteered to help fly two small Australian Shepherd puppies from Decatur, AL (DCU) to the Spirit of St Louis Airport (SUS). The puppies were small and their weight was no problem. The crate that was going to be used would fit (I thought) fine in the baggage area of my plane.

When I arrived at the Decatur airport and attempted to put the crate in the plane, I learned that just because the crate will fit in the baggage area, getting it into the baggage area may be another challenge.

We could not maneuver it such that it could be laid flat, so our only option was to set the crate up vertically and set the puppies on what would normally be the side of the crate.  Brilliant!  Right? Well, not really because the bottom of these crates do not have the grid spacing that the top and the sides do. I did not notice that. As you can see in the photo above, the grids on the bottom are about 5″ square, plenty for little puppies to squirm through.

We stowed everything away, said our goodbyes and I fired up, and taxied toward the runway.

As I am just about to pull onto the runway, I suddenly have two puppies trying to climb into my lap! I’m like, what the….! Then I start laughing when I realize what happened. They both immediately found a nest in the foot wells and looked at me, as if to say, “can we stay here with you?”.

I briefly thought about letting them stay up front with me and then quickly decided that wasn’t such a good idea.

So, I shut the engine down and put the plastic floor of the crate back in the crate, re-loaded the dogs, took off and got them to SUS in great shape. I handed them off to another PNP pilot who put them in his Saratoga and took them to their final destination of Galesburg, IL.

Another mission accomplished, and some lessons learned about what will fit in this plane.

Anti Splat Gust Lock

I recently bought Anti Splat Aero’s gust lock for the RV-8 and thought a brief review for RV-8 owners might be of benefit since pictures of installation in an RV-8 are not on Anti Splat’s website.

Bottom line is that I am happy with the unit. I did have to drill an extra hole in the shaft to get the geometry right with my adjustable pedals. As a relatively short person (5’8″), the pedals sit aft and there just weren’t enough adjustment holes to get the geometry right. Easy fix

In terms of holding power, the rudder and elevators are rock solid. The ailerons less so, but there’s enough resistance there to get the job done. The design of the lock has inherently less power for the ailerons. This is noted in their videos and the requirement is that the gust lock be set as tight as you reasonably can to resist aileron movement.

I like the fact that all three surfaces are locked with one mechanism and that there’s no way you’re going try and take off with this thing between your legs! Also harder to steal. I used this at Oshkosh and on Saturday night when we had intermittent rain showers and full time wind. Everything was in it’s correct place the next morning. It folds up nice and small and is very well made.

It’s not cheap at $189.00, but it’s less expensive that having a hole punched into your rudder because it’s flapping around in the breeze. And to my surprise, there was more than one RV at Oshkosh in HBC with its rudder doing exactly that.

Oshkosh-What a Goat Rodeo!

Lastly, there is the Goat Rodeo. The worst of the three, it is beyond even profanity. It describes a situation that involves many individuals’ screw ups, and implies that the fuck up is already well underway meaning that there is no hope in stopping the mess. Usually said with a defeated tone.

Source: Urban Dictionary

Yep, that about sums it up. I flew to Oshkosh. For anyone who made the trek to Oshkosh this year, you know what I mean. The weather was horrible on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The winds were gusting, it was raining and low ceilings pervaded. ATC shut down runways 9/27 so all traffic was directed to runways 36 L/R. Many people had to divert, and many never made it into Oshkosh. It was one of the most dangerous situations I’ve ever seen (well, flying into Destin, FL would have ranked up there until they finally instituted a tower there).

We had a plan. The weather forecast was bad for Saturday but forecast to be good in western WI. I was meeting a friend and his son. They weren’t instrument rated, so we decided to meet up in Prairie Du Chien, WI on Saturday, stay the night there and then ease in OSH first thing the next morning. To say this plan didn’t work out is a vast understatement!

The weather at PDC was clear but extremely gusty. I arrived early afternoon and hitched a ride to the worst Motel 6 I’ve ever seen. After eating lunch and checking on my friends, who were at that time just into MO, the weather forecast changed and VFR was not forecast until well into Sunday, but a window of VFR weather was forecast for Saturday evening at about 6PM.

After considering the depressing thought of spending the night in that dump of a hotel, I decided “the hell with it, I’ll just leave and see if I can get into OSH tonight”. Failing that, I’d just come back and spend the night.  So, I got a taxi ride to the airport (no UBER or LYFT in Prairie Du Chien!), filled up with gas and took off.

As you can see from my Flightaware track above, it wasn’t a straight shot. Lots of low hanging clouds and rain. Barely VFR and flying in the mist and scud with 1000 other people. My ADS-B screen was lit up like a Christmas tree. I had to zoom into the 2 mile view to make sense of anything. The drill to flying in to OSH is that everyone crosses RIPON intersection at 1800 ft and 90 KIAS. To say the least, it was a wasp nest at RIPON and I had to break it off and restart at RIPON 3 or 4 times before I finally got into a stable line of planes. Even as it was, I had to slow fly at 65 KIAS to avoid gaining on the Cessna ahead of me.

My friends tried getting in, but decided to spend the night at the Wautoma, WI airport (Y50). Wautoma is an excellent place to stage for OSH and is only about 30 miles west. They and about 50 other planes spent the night on the field there. Rumors abounded that pizza and beer were consumed there and all in all, it wasn’t a bad experience. They ended up getting into OSH on Sunday.

I ended up getting into OSH that Saturday evening around 6:30 just as the rain started. I was lucky. Many never got in, some flew around all day on Sunday and never got in. Some who have flown in for decades on an annual basis said it was the worst they had ever seen. I believe them.

At the end of it all, I got parked in Homebuilt Camping, got my tent up, grabbed a pre-fab ham sandwich and a bottle of lemonade for dinner and then crawled into my tent and listened to the wind and rain much of the night.

Oshkosh Packing List

Here’s my personal packing list for Oshkosh:

  1. Backup Battery for Phone and iPad
  2. Bath and Beach Towel
  3. Beer
  4. Cash
  5. Charging Cables (Apple, Mini USB, Micro USB, Type C, Wall Charger)
  6. Ear Plugs
  7. Folding Chair
  8. Haircut
  9. Hand Held Radio
  10. HBC/VFR Sign
  11. Insulated Cup for Coffee
  12. NOTAM
  13. Pillow
  14. Relief Bottle
  15. Sandals for Shower
  16. Sleeping Bag
  17. Snacks/Food
  18. Soap
  19. Soft Side Cooler
  20. Sun Hat
  21. Sunscreen
  22. Tent
  23. Therma Rest Pad
  24. Two Garbage Bags
  25. Wind Breaker