EAA volunteer guides a lengthy queue of Cessnas toward their
collective tie-down area as they taxi into the North
40 following their annual mass arrival ahead of Monday’s
opening of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Photo by Dave
Swanson has been coming to EAA AirVenture for some time. He, like
many others, makes the annual trip to establish and re-establish the
friendships that are such a large part of this gathering.
Swanson and his friends often arrived at different times. That
simple reality made it a challenge finding space in the North 40
where everyone could park together. While parking together is not
absolutely required, according to Swanson it is a simple thing that
adds a lot to the Oshkosh experience.
started the process back in 2004. I was talking with my brother and
a couple of friends and we wondered how we could do this,"
Swanson said. "We went to the EAA and asked how do the Bonanzas
do this? [EAA] told us that they have a full program. They train all
year. They do this; they do that, and we said, ‘Well shoot! We can
of that discussion, Cessnas to Oshkosh (C2O) was born. Now in its
third year, the C2O flight arrived precisely on schedule, at 2:30
p.m., Saturday afternoon.
has served as the flight’s Director of Training since the 2006
inaugural flight. Working with a group of dedicated volunteers, and
with some help from the Bonanzas to Oshkosh organization, C2O
developed the necessary training and operations plans. The plans
were submitted to the EAA, were subsequently approved, and the
required Letter of Authorization was issued.
year’s flight consisted of 35 airplanes. Although 63 had
registered for the trip, weather turned out to be a significant
challenge. Hurricane Dolly was responsible for a number of airplanes
canceling, as well as some poor weather in the upper Midwest a few
days prior to the flight.
training is required before a pilot can participate in C2O. Over the
course of the year C2O offers a number of training clinics around
the country, including a clinic the day before the flight at C2O’s
pre-EAA AirVenture gathering place at Dodge County Airport in
Juneau, Wisconsin. According to Swanson 60 percent of this year’s
participants were new to the flight.
Chipley led this year’s formation in his 1961 Cessna 172B.
Chipley, who also handles some training and logistics duties for
C2O, had the responsibility for getting the flight off on time,
getting to its waypoints on time, communicating with controllers,
and, of course, arriving at EAA AirVenture at the exact assigned
time. Swanson brought up the rear in his 1968 Cessna 310 twin.
breadth of the Cessna product line presents C2O with an interesting
formation challenge. Unlike the mass arrivals like the Bonanzas and
Mooneys that involve very similar types of airplanes, Cessna has
manufactured piston airplanes that range from the two seat 150 and
152, all the way through to twins like the 310, with virtually
everything in between. To account for the performance differences
between models, airplanes are grouped with others of similar
performance. Slower airplanes depart first with the next group
waiting just the right amount of time before they depart. The amount
of time between the groups is planned so they all will arrive at EAA
in this year’s flight is up from 2007. Swanson attributes the
success to diligence, planning, and sheer effort. New this year was
an extensive website, built and managed by Gil Velez, C2O webmaster.
The site has a number of features for year-round communication, as
well as details for the flight.
partnered with the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) for this year’s
flight. John Frank, founder and executive director of the CPA, had
an opportunity to address the pilots during their post flight
debriefing. Frank acknowledged the partnership, but was quick to
give all the credit for organizing the flight to C2O organizers. He
encouraged the group to tell all their friends about how much fun
they had this year and encourage any and all Cessna pilots to join
in next year’s flight.
will cap off their 2008 activities with a barbeque at their
"Cessna Base Camp" in the North 40.
are already underway for Cessna mass arrivals at EAA AirVenture in
2009 and 2010. The 2010 event will have a special significance, as
it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cessna 210. More
information is available at the C2O website www.Cessnas2Oshkosh.com.