More tents than
usual spring up at Fond du Lac. Fond du Lac is open to aircraft
camping while Appleton is accepting aircraft parking.
Fond du Lac County Airport in Fond du
Lac, Wisconsin, a normal destination for many EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh-bound flyers most years, is an unintended destination for many
others this year as the Oshkosh grounds dry out from recent rains.
Marcellin Lavergne of Boucherville,
Quebec, and Yvon Gagnon of St. Hubert, Quebec, left CYHU Saturday in
Lavergne's Bonanza. Even though their departure was into a 200-foot
ceiling, weather reports indicated the Oshkosh weather was VFR. Up until
about 20 miles from the field they fully intended an Oshkosh landing and
a North 40 camping spot.
"ATIS said [Oshkosh] was closed to
general aviation so we diverted here," Lavergne said, but added
with a grin, "Actually we really didn't divert; we were here
Fond du Lac, along with Outagamie County
Regional Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin, share reliever airport duties
during EAA AirVenture.
In a typical year both airports absorb the airplane overflow when
parking in Oshkosh fills up. Other pilots simply choose to avoid the
Oshkosh traffic altogether and make those airports their destination.
Unlike Appleton, Fond du Lac allows
camping next to the airplanes. Lavergne and other divertees simply
pitched their tents and made camp much as they would in the North 40.
Lavergne only has a few days to enjoy EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, so he plans to leave his plane and tent in Fond
Sylvain St-Georges and his son Robin,
airport neighbors to Lavergne and Gagnon at Montreal's St. Hubert
Airport (CYHU), ended up at Fond du Lac after an adventurous three-day
flight. Weather along the way mandated overnight stops in Port Huron,
Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana.
"We visited a lot of the
(U.S.)," Sylvain St-Georges said. "It was very nice to see
Detroit city and the big airport."
Their constantly changing flight plan
took them across parts of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and, of course,
He and Robin plan to move their airplane
to Oshkosh just as soon as conditions allow. "It's not because we
don't like Fond du Lac, but the show is there."
Clayton and Nancy Coss of Tulsa,
Oklahoma, who flew their Cessna 172 to EAA AirVenture for the second
time, made the decision to divert about 20 miles from Ripon.
"We were closer to the showers last
year," Nancy said, comparing their Fond du Lac camp with last
year's North 40 camping spot. Her hope was to get a similar spot this
Erik Wennan, Chilkoot Ward, and Ward's
daughter Allison left Fairbanks, Alaska, last Wednesday in a highly
modified Cessna 182, for their first EAA AirVenture visit in 12 years.
First indications of the unprecedented
conditions in Oshkosh came during a stop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
"We actually heard the event was
canceled, that you couldn't go there," Wennan said. "But we
checked the NOTAMs and looked on the Internet and obviously that wasn't
A decision to land at Fond du Lac was
made after checking on Oshkosh field conditions during a stop in
The Cessna, like many Alaskan airplanes,
sports oversized tires and a larger-than-stock engine.
"We hear it is a bit of a swamp up
there," Wennan said. "Heck, we probably land in stuff that is
wetter than that."
Since Wennan and his plane-mates plan to
spend the entire week at EAA AirVenture, they will move the airplane to
Oshkosh just as soon as conditions allow.
Gary Helton, his son Byron, and grandson
Byron II, deferred a bus trip to the EAA AirVenture grounds Sunday
morning. Their hope was for word they could bring their red Cherokee
Dakota to Oshkosh before noon.
The Helton's Saturday flight from
Indianapolis was uneventful other than a short delay to let some
thunderstorms pass and, of course, the unplanned diversion to Fond du
Gary, who has been coming to EAA
AirVenture for, in his words, 30-some-odd years, was anxious to get
grandson Byron II to his second convention.
"I want to see the flying car,"
the young Helton said.
Conditions at Fond du Lac County Airport
are good and parking, as of Sunday, remained available.