With the next half of the around-the-world trip about to begin, it's time to reflect on the trip leading up to Oshkosh.
Here is a selection of photos, all taken between the Bahamas and Oshkosh, as well as a diary summary from Mike:
The last legs from the Bahamas to Oshkosh were easy except for the weather. We had to dodge storms and clouds and rain but that is part of flying. The plane performed flawlessly and the auto pilot flew better than Patrick or I could ever fly. That is the way it is – the machine is better than the human except it can't think. Yet!
Flying in the USA is a breeze. There are thousands of wonderful airports with long smooth runways and air conditioned reception areas, fuel, a free courtesy car to use, helpful friendly people and absolutely no bureaucracy at all. Just obey the rules which is easy to do of course.
We flew into Key West from The Bahamas. Key West is a special place – it is about the closest city to Cuba and out at the end of the Key of Florida. It is also very expensive but well worth a visit. There are lots of restaurants and bars and a real party atmosphere.
To enter the USA is a bit of a process as far as getting permissions and paperwork is concerned but if you know what to do it goes easy and quick. Here is what you have to do: Get authorization to fly your aircraft in US territory from the FAA. Then you must pay a transponder fee and get the decal and stick it on your aircraft. Next is fill in your online passenger manifest called the eApis system and submit it. Finally you have to call the customs office at the airport that you are flying in to and advise them of your flight and the time of your arrival. When we landed at Key West we sailed through because we had everything done perfectly. We also had visas of course.
From Key West we flew up to Winchester in Tennessee for the night before heading north for the last leg. The flight in to Wittman Field (Oshkosh) went smoothly but boy it gets busy. You don't talk back to ATC, just listen and do what they say. Land on the orange dot on Runway 27 and get off the runway quickly because there is a jet on short finals right behind you! As we pulled off onto the taxiway I looked back and the jet was right there touching down.
EAA Airventure Oshkosh is the centre of the aviation world for one week in summer every year. We made it!
After a wonderful welcome from about 30 South Africans we tied the Sling down and went in search of beer. One third of the flight around the world is now behind us and from here on Patrick will fly with other pilots.