July 31, 2013 – Oshkosh – Departure Experience from tie-down

Details of Frank’s PA30 departure from Oshkosh

– Days before I requested a reservation for 8am on Wednesday. I recorded a reservation number on the iPad by snapping a picture of it.

– 24 to 12 hours prior to the departure time, I CONFIRMED that number with e-STMP, and snapped a picture of the confirmation number (same as reservation, but with a ‘C’ after it, as I recall.

– The afternoon before departure, I attempted to use Foreflight to automatically file a flight plan. Tried several times, but it errored out. Called the flight plan in manually, and requested a Wisconsin briefer specifically. I did this because it lessens the chance of a foul-up using a local briefer, in my opinion.

– Night before we packed everything we wouldn’t need in the morning. We expected to wake up to steady rain, and were as prepared for that as we could be.

– woke up at 5:00 am and removed my tie-downs as a way to let the moped flight line crews get a clue I was leaving. They are watching among the rows for who is packing up, so they can be ready.

– Bev and I hit the showers and came back to pack up our gear. During the tear-down, several of the flight line guys stopped to discuss how we’d get out. They were worried I’d start up where I was and blow tents away. I told them we has a reservation for 8am, and would be back early to get moving. They would be there.

– I could not get a briefing downloaded the day before, but did get one just before dark. Cell coverage and all those pilots hitting the same server might be the cause. I didn’t try this morning, and planned to rely on the Garmin 496 to get weather, or call. In truth – I ran out of time for either, verified before takeoff there were not TStorms within an hour, and launched with the previous nights wx brief. I’ll do better next time.

– After breakfast – those guys were watching for me. I asked for no more than three people to help, and two guys showed up. An observer / fellow camper jumped in for the third. With me on the tow bar, one on each prop hub, and one pushing behind the wing on the walkway – we pulled it across the line and positioned away from tents for startup.

– Before startup, I reminded them I’d have to taxi north to the IFR staging area. Most traffic was VFR and coming down the taxiway, so they needed to remember this. I also told them it would look like I was going the wrong way, as I taxiied on the grass to avoid an incline getting to the taxiway.

– Once in the airplane – the line guy continued to try to communicate with me. It took me about 10 minutes to start up, and during the whole time, he was anticipating me moving at any moment.

– Using my handheld radio, I listened to ATIS on 128.75. Next I contact clearance delivery on 119.05. Note that the NOTAM says don’t call until 20 minutes prior to departure, but the ATIS said 30 minutes. I called at the 30 minute mark and received my clearance, but no SQUAWK CODE, as the NOTAM warned.

– At that point, I was cleared to started by clearance delivery, and remained on 119.05 as per the NOTAM.

– At one point during all this, they stopped a T-28 from coming down the taxiway for VFR departure on 36L so I could get out. I was not ready, I was going the other way anyway; shook my head no and put my head down. They eventually figured it out and let him go.

– I decided to do a run-up right there. I hope I didn’t cause any fuss behind me, and don’t think I did, but I didn’t want to wait until the IFR staging area and have to rush. I was already feeling rushed with all the well-intentioned hand waving going on. I did my run-up, and indicated ready to taxi to the guide waiting for me.

*** those guys are enjoying themselves – and doing this just like I do for the Angel Flight air shows. Don’t feel rushed – they’ll wait and be happy.

*** In retrospect – I waited in the staging area for 5 minutes. I’d do my run up there next time, after the engines warmed more thoroughly with the long taxi.

– I was cleared to move, and taxiied south for a low incline spot that would get me to the taxiway with adequate prop clearance. I had the IFR sign in the window, but excited line crews were flashing 118.9 frequency signs at me and guiding me to the 36L departure. I stopped and had bev hold up here IFR sign and the lights went on. I stayed on 119.05 and they turned me north on the taxiiway.

– Other flag persons continued my progress until I was in conflict with another T-28 coming the other way. They put me off onto a closed runway adjacent 36L, and I continued to the next intersection. Just beyond that point, flag persons were energetically urging me onward, but I saw a hovering helicopter adjacent the taxiiway. I didn’t hear any activity on 119.05; had flag persons waving me on; and a huey helicopter hovering with the blade tips maybe 50 feet from the taxiiway I’d pass him on. I stopped. Flagmen waved me on, but I did not move.

– This was all abeam show center, and airplanes were moving everywhere. The huey was trying to get in there, and things all backed up. I waited, and eventually – someone figured out my concern, and had the helicopter land where he was. Doing that made it safe for me to continue, so I started moving immediately. The point is that you remain Pilot in Command. Someone tells you to do something stupid – just don’t do it.

– Entering the staging area, and hearing nothing on 119.05, I finally got nervous. I moved to 121.9 just in case I had mis-read something, and let her know was there. She was cool with it, and asked if I was ready now. When I said I could go immediately, she told me to stop where I was. Flag persons waived energetically for me to move, and I just shook my head no and point to my ear. He got the message, but was visibly frustrated.

– Turns out I didn’t get right out, and ground just forgot about me for 5 minutes. They finally moved me up to next in line in the IFR staging area (intersection of 4/22 and 27), and I waited another 5 minutes.

– Next – they cleared me for line up and wait, and then issued a takeoff clearance as I was rolling. I told them immediately I’d need a transponder code to do that, and they realized they’d forgotten that. By the time I’d lined up they gave it to me; I entered it; and off I went.

No major drama. Just remember these flag persons may tell you something stupid. If it doesn’t feel right. Stop and use the radio if you need to.

Hope this helps.

Fly safe – what an experience!!

Frank