2013 Rough River Fly-In                                       

09/30/2013 -

Months of work repainting and finishing the interior of the Cozy were finally coming to end.  We knew that there was no chance the plane would be ready for Oshkosh 2013, and one of the worst things one can do is give yourself an arbitrary dead line for anything airplane related.  That's how things get missed, and safety gets compromised.

We weren't really all that thrilled with the idea of flying into Oshkosh during Airventure anyway.  Yes, it's sort of like a pilgrimage to Mecca, but until both plane and pilot have a bit more time under their belt, Oshkosh will be a driving adventure.  Every bit as much of a Mecca adventure in our mind is the Central States Fly-In, held every year at the Rough River State Park in Kentucky.  The event is Canard-centric, though a few builders trade a weekend of 'spam can' comments for the thrill of flying ANYTHING in.  It is held each year at the end of September/beginning of October, so we felt we had plenty of time to have the airplane ready for it.  In reality it was VERY close.

After getting the Cozy completely put back together again we only had one weekend to conduct some quick test flights to ensure that plane was still airworthy.  Then on the morning of September 26th, we embarked on what would be the longest journey yet in the Cozy.  We took a bit a of a detour on the way there however, meeting up with good friend and fellow Cozy driver Bob Bittner.  We were to meet Bob at Monroe, WI (KEFT) in the afternoon, but we set out from St. Cloud at about 10am to ensure we had ample time to address any issues that came up.  The 2 hour flight was smooth sailing, albeit fighting a 23Kt headwind. The only concern came when trying to land at Monroe, the surface winds were reporting 9-10Kts, but at 25-50' the EFIS was showing between 30-40 Kts on a direct crosswind.  It took 3 approaches before the being stabilized enough to set it down.

We parked the plane, ordered lunch from a local sub shop that delivered to the airport, refueled, and waited for Bob to arrive.  When Bob arrived we took a few quick pictures of the planes together, refueled Bob's Cozy, and set out for Bloomington, IN (KBMG) where we would spend the night.

An hour and half later we arrived at Bloomington, and discovered that my flight planning at 2am that morning left a little to be desired.  Turns out that the major runway was closed for repair and we would have to use the crosswind runway.  It was still 3400', but had hills at either end with the approach this evening being over a heavily wooded area.  My approach was too shallow and fast, which after clearing the wooded hill became to high and fast, so yet another go around for the day to set up a better approach.  The second approach was fine, and we landed behind Bob and taxied up to the FBO to find my parents eagerly awaiting our arrival.  We unpacked the planes and Bob and I admired how great our planes looked on the ramp.  After patting ourselves on the back a bit we headed off to dinner with my parents and finally to their house for some great homemade peanut butter pie, and much needed sleep.

The next morning we went back out to the airport, and set off for Rough River (2I3)....minus Ella who stayed with my parents.  I declared to the tower that Cozy 204TF, flight of two was ready for take off with a South-bound departure, and promptly got our clearance.  Upon climbing out however I discovered that the EFIS was directing me to head East.   I then noticed that it also thought that our destination was 5200 miles away!  As I wallowed around a bit between East and Southeast while trying to figure out what was going on with the EFIS, the controller very politely asked me "4TF, say intentions?  I thought you were going South?"  I stalled him a bit by responding that we were going to follow runway heading just a bit before turning south, at which point Bob covered me nicely by calling "#2 is up and clear, you can start your turn South anytime you like John."  I had gotten in the habit of always putting the "K" in front of the airport codes when entering my flight plans into the EFIS.  I learned early that if I omitted them at a field where there was a VOR or NDB with the same identifier and it wasn't on field, you might find yourself not aligned where you wanted.  Unfortunately "K2I3" must be some GPS fix on the other side of the world, and I was trying to get to Kentucky....not Kazakhstan.  After straightening out the EFIS I then proceeded to spend way too many mental cycles worrying about which runway everyone would be using at Rough River.  Winds in the area were dead calm, but the runway is uphill when landing to the south.  The ramp is on the North end however, so thus began my panic of "Which Way do I Go????"  Fortunately Bob assured me most would likely be landing to the North, so we set up for a left downwind for Runway 2 and I made my first landing at a canard fly-in.  It was a great feeling.

The weather was great Friday and Saturday, and we learned a ton from Terry Schubert who helped me identify deficiencies in my cooling airflow.  Within 15 minutes of landing I had great information I couldn't wait to put to use back at the hangar.  We spent the weekend surrounded by great friends and great planes, all while keeping an eye on Sunday's weather.  By Saturday evening it was looking pretty iffy for Sunday morning.  I haven't been IFR current in about 5 years, and I didn't have time for an IPC before we left.  So despite the clouds only being a few thousand feet in height, there was no way for me to punch up through them to get us home.  By 4pm Sunday Bob and I decided we'd just have to throw in the towel, crack a beer and wait it out till Monday.  Being stuck at a gorgeous state park with a bunch of friends and some beer really isn't too bad.

Monday morning arrived with not much better weather, but with the promise of clearing later in the day.  By 11am our chance arrived, and we decided that best chance to reconnect with my parents to pick up Ella was in Evansville, IN (KEVV).  Bob escorted me on the 20 minute run to Evansville and when the tower cleared me to land, he continued on to Wisconsin in order to get away from the cold front that was causing so much trouble.  After picking up Ella we had to wait out a little more weather and finally set off for home about 3pm.  We had a fair bit of low cloud decks as well as a couple of MOAs we had to avoid, so we didn't exactly get to take a straight path home.  Upon reaching Dubuque, IA I decided it would be best to land for fuel.  We were finally clear of the weather, and after topping off the tanks we had a smooth ride back to St. Cloud.  Total flight time for the day was about 4 hours, which sure beat the 16 hours of driving, but it was indeed nice to see the familiar runway 31 of my favorite airport in the world....KSTC.

Sadly we didn't take many pictures or movies (too busy catching up with friends) but here's what we (mostly Ella) did take: