|Jim Reddy in the North 40 campground with his A36 Beech Bonanza.
|Airline pilot Sue Haas is back for a slightly drier AirVenture this year.
Sunday afternoon the weather was beautiful and the wind was favoring Runway 9.
So the favorite sport in AirVenture’s North 40 campground was watching the planes arriving on the east/west runway.
Camp chairs were dragged out to the edge of the taxiway, umbrellas raised, and cool beverages broken out.
The big show has begun.
Watching the action from the shade of his Bonanza was Jim Reddy from Chicago. Jim flies out of Campbell Airport (C81) in Grayslake, Illinois.
It’s a short flight here to Oshkosh, only 40 minutes. This year it took a little longer as he worked to avoid the thunderstorms to the south. Nevertheless, it was a quicker trip than most EAA faithful undertake to get here.
Jim’s current airplane is a 2000 A36 Beech Bonanza. For the first five years he owned it he used it mostly for business.
“I’ve flown it all around the country. It sure beats commercial aviation. I don’t fly it as much since I’ve retired, but I still fly it a fair amount.
“My wife and I go on trips. We head out to New York and South Carolina…places like that. Not as much as we’d like, but we still get out.”
The Bonanza is only the latest in a long line of aircraft he’s owned: Warrior, Archer, Cherokee Six, Commander, Bonanza.
Why so many?
“I just enjoy flying, and I like having my own plane versus renting, which is a real problem.”
What were the strengths of his various planes?
“The first one was a Warrior, which had 160 hp; its strength was it was very economical. Same way with the Archer, which was 180 hp versus 160. It was a great airplane, and I had that for a number of years.
“The Cherokee Six was the next upgrade, which was great. Our kids were young at the time, so we could put all the kids, my wife, and all the luggage in that airplane. That was perfect for that.
“I had a Commander, which was a retractable, and it was very roomy. That was very nice about that airplane, but this one here [the Bonanza] is the best of all of them.
“It’s very fast; it’s good on weight. Very solid airplane. There’s very few made like the Beechcraft; it’s the best.”
He’s a member of EAA Chapter 790 in Barrington, Illinois.
These days Jim comes to AirVenture and stays for the week, but for many of his 15 years-plus coming here he literally commuted from his home down in Chicago.
“I used to fly in in the morning, fly in from Chicago, go to parking, get on the bus, go look at everything, run around go look at the air show, look at all the hangars, and then fly home at night. ’Cause I didn’t have much time.
“And that was a horrible way to come up here.”
But what’s changed?
“Now I just come up for the week. Go to the seminars, have a chance to relax, and really look at everything.”
It took Sue Haas three days to make the flight to AirVenture this year from her home base at Manassas, Virginia. In contrast to Jim Reddy, Sue arrived Sunday with a friend after a three-day trek, where thunderstorms ran her to ground for two nights, while trying to get into Wittman.
Manassas is an interesting place to fly out of these days since it’s within the Washington, D.C., special flight rules area. We asked her if flying in that highly restricted airspace is tolerable.
She hesitated thinking about the question.
“Well, it’s tolerable. I like the fact that you’ve got a tower, because it’s a little extra hand-holding. If there’s something wrong with your transponder, they’ll let you know before you get violated by Potomac Approach.
“If you fly out of Leesburg, you won’t know that till you get the sanction, ’cause you’re not talking to anybody.
“But yeah, it’s tolerable, but it’s ‘file IFR, file IFR, file IFR.’”
Sue’s flying back home consists of the usual $100 hamburgers as well as some good works.
“We like to do volunteer missions for Pilots N Paws. We fly the rescue dogs. A lot of flying down to North Carolina and back up ’cause there’s a gal up in Pennsylvania that takes the dogs from North Carolina.”
Sue is wearing an “I survived Sloshkosh” T-shirt, but in addition to last year, she’s been coming to the fly-in since 1983. From those early days she remembers, “just coming out here with my dad, meeting up with friends, and going to the forums.
“Camping by the airplane was just the coolest thing.”
Sue made the flight here from Virginia in a rented Cessna 182. “I love the 182. It’s a good cross-country machine. The payload is really good; the speed is decent. A lot of airplanes are faster, but they can’t carry as much. Or they’re really expensive to operate. But this one seems like a really good compromise.
“It’s a workhorse, really nice.”
The 182 is a bit of a change from her normal flying. Sue’s other airplane is the Boeing 767 she flies as a first officer for United.