I ran through my fun memories of the first half of 2013 in this post and here are the last half:


In July I had a chance to go tripping in summer with my friends Shawna & Dan as they showed me a little bit of their home. I had a blast as we went Cherry picking and I got to see parts of Washington I had not seen. I got to use the Truck for its intended purpose of hauling stuff around. I Also had another dream fulfilled when I got to step foot in OshKosh for the EAA Airventure.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From AirVenture 2013


In August while I was in OshKosh I got the chance to accompany a group of Vietnam Veterans on an Honor Flight to Washington DC. Words can not express exactly how amazing this day was and how many memories I have from it. Being the month of my Birthday there was lots of celebrations and a few friends came to visit. Another memorable experience was getting to see my parents as they were stopping in Vancouver for a brief visit. It was a great weekend (though only brief) and getting to spend more than 3 hours with my family was a memory I will not forget.

From EAA Honor Flight
From EAA Honor Flight
From Fiona's Visit
From Fiona's Visit
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver
From Family Visit to Vancouver


September saw my friend Yena come over to visit, (though she was here for the last couple of days of August as well but he, it counts) and getting to spend Labor Day weekend with a great friend and showing her my new home town and having some old school shenanigans like old times was great (like licking a GE90 to win a $20 bet). A memory I will not soon forget. September was also the month I had trained long and hard for. I competed in my first Triathlon, a Super Sprint distance event in Woodinville for the “Cottage Lake Tri” and I did so much better than I expected.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013


Work got really busy towards the end of September but for most of October I actually spent my time in New Zealand, a good portion of the month actually. I was down there for training and the AOT Megafamil. I probably had what I think was my best famil ever and I enjoyed every minute of it. I met some amazing people, had a blast of a time and truly made friends who I hope to keep in touch with for quite some time. I also did some pretty stupid things, like Jump off a building or go on a giant canyon swing (without the canyon though) all to combat a fear. After getting back from New Zealand I jetted back east for a couple of days to Run my 2nd 10K race ever. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon 10K, something I had wanted to do for quite some time. If and when I ever get up to a full marathon, I want that race to be there as it felt like one of most amazing events I have seen.

From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – South Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From AOT NZ Megafamil – North Island
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K
From Marine Corp Marathon 10K

November & December

November was a tough month, No real travel, nothing happening really. There was thanksgiving which I spent at home but it was all work. I needed to get back to work after spending so much time off. I did manage to skip out to Kansas City for the start of December for my $100 challenge which I won and then the snowpocalypse happened as well towards the end of month. A pretty cool thing to experience for the second time in a year

From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Kansas City BBQ Run
From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

It has been a year of ups and downs, both good and bad, but I have had a blast and have some memories that will last a life time. To my friends old & new who I have shared moments with this year, Thank you for making this year truly special.

Saturday 3rd August 2013

I finished off my morning at OshKosh and started my journey north to Green Bay.  First stop was the Post Office in OshKosh so that I could post all of the swag and press kits I had accumulated over the week.  When it all was weighed up there was almost 12 pounds of stuff to send home. That’s a LOT of swag!  But it was either that or get charged mass amounts of excess baggage, so I sucked up the cost ($35).  Next stop was just a small cafe in the middle of OshKosh itself as I had been told earlier in the week they had the best cookies around.  So I stopped off and picked up a snack and a couple for the road.  Back on the road, heading north towards Green Bay it was a good hour or so of just endless Interstate up to Green Bay.  My destination was to hit up Lambeau Field and maybe see the packers hall of fame (and maybe pick up a shot glass at the Pro Shop).  As I arrived at the stadium I saw heaps of traffic.  Part of me started to panic.  I knew pre season games were starting soon but their shouldn’t be a game on a Saturday.  It wasn’t a game though, it was Training camp!  DOH!

The area around the stadium was packed solid and there was no where to park without costing $20 or more.  So stuff that, did a couple of drive bys, took a photo from the Car window and headed out.  I had seen one of the supermarkets I knew that had a good place to grab some food, and then headed toward the airport for a bit of a picnic.  There was 1 aircraft arrival while I was there (literally as I drove in) so entertained myself listening to the LiveATC feed from the OshKosh Airshow.  A fitting end to my trip.  I gave into a desire for some soft serve ice cream and drove to the nearest A&W to have some.  After looking at it all week at the Air Show, I gave in.  Sad Sad Mal, but it was tasty!  Time to fill the car and get to the airport for check in.

Dropped the car off at Green Bay Airport and check in was empty.  Funnily enough I was on the final flight of the day to leave the airport so that was why it was so deserted.  The Airport was eerily quiet and small and there wasn’t much to it either before or after security.  I checked out the one shop that was open before security and it was filled with Green Bay packers gear.  I resisted the urge to bring home some cheese curds (which were EVERYWHERE) and headed up to the TSA checkpoint.  It was nice and empty as you would expect in such a small airport.  But sadly I got there right behind two older ladies, one of them in a wheelchair.  The TSA agent then promptly shut down the checkpoint and made me wait behind them.  I was literally the only person in line at this point and couldn’t go anywhere.  It would of been smarter to put the able bodied person through, then shut down an empty check point to let the older ladies through, but hey it’s rural Wisconsin, they don’t use them fancy things called Thinking out here!  After 10 minutes of waiting to get my boarding pass checked I was finally allowed up to the scanner, where they then kept asking if I knew what I was doing and if I needed the procedures explained to me (even though I had priority all over my boarding pass and have done this like 40 times this year alone).  Way to go Green Bay, made me want to deal with the TSA in JFK or LAX.  I never thought I would want that.  Then by the time I got through to the other side of the scanners my laptop had not come through.  Nope, TSA had held me up again while they fought with a lady who had a bag in the scanner, and rather than pull it out and manually inspect it (which they would do at any other airport), they held the bag inside the scanner and kept asking her questions about it while it was still in there.  So I was dressed, ready and waiting to go, but couldn’t leave cause they had my stuff still, just as one of the other TSA members was heading up to me to try and get me to move on, my laptop finally came through and I walked away.  15 minutes start to finish for what should of taken 2-3 at most.  Utter fail.

On the other side of the checkpoint was a sole cafe where I grabbed a bottle of water and again resisted buying cheese curds (I mean seriously they are everywhere!).  I found the gate, our aircraft had just arrived with plenty of time to offload people so I settled in and logged into the free wifi to do a bit of work.  I will give Green Bay Airport the props for one thing, their wifi was free, fast and had no agreements to accept.  You just connected and it worked!  It helped pass the time.  I figured I would see if it was a free flight and if I could scam a seat closer to the front, so I approached the gate agent and got a very rough “What do you want?” and then after I asked my question “No”.  Wow.. blatant.  He at least followed up after a few seconds with “It’s a full flight”.  Wow, just wow, very proffessional there. I brushed it off and waited.

Delta Air Lines – DL4594 (Operated by SkyWest)
Green Bay to Minneapolis St-Paul
Canadair CRJ-900 (N161PQ)
Economy Class – Seat 8D

Boarding: 1657 (Gate B5)
Push Back: 1719
Take off Roll: 1727 (Runway 36)
Top of Descent: 1753
Touch Down: 1811 (Runway 30L)
Shut Down: 1816 (Gate C4)

The professionalism of the gate agent  really stood out when he called boarding.  He was not at all what you would expect from any gate agent from any airline.  One of his little jokes was “By the time your all wheels up, I will be liquored up”  Absolutely not the best thing to say at all.  When he announced Sky Priority boarding I fled the gate area as quickly as possible so I didn’t have to hear anything  more he said.  Stepping onto the CRJ-900 is always a reminder of one thing that I hate about it.  Offset windows!  I always go for a window seat and I always forget with this aircraft.  DAMMIT!  You’re either bending way forward or contorting your way backwards.  Ah well.  I settled into the seat and the aircraft filled up around me.  Flight time was announced as 40 minutes so barely up, barely down. The flight attendant’s also announced that they wouldn’t be doing a beverage service, though if we needed anything to ask.  So does that mean we can have a drink or not?  Confusing!  Right before pushing back, Mr Gate Attendant showed up again to give us one final farewell… *sigh*

We pushed back while I wasn’t really paying any attention.  and started heading for the runway.  One small, fully packed CRJ taxiing all the way across a very quiet Green Bay Airport to the cross runway.  We climbed out like a rocket (that weird sensation you get when the engines are at the back and they seem to be able to use it to their advantage).  We were up in the air and climbing out into the sky as the pilots gave another briefing to give us advice to say.  Since there was no service and it was only a quick flight, I just had some of my water and read some of the book on my tablet.  Pretty boring flight really, up, cruise, down, though a boring, uneventful flight is a good flight right?

We descended into MSP pretty easily and we had a slightly different approach to the one I was on before when I landed into MSP from Seattle. I had no idea where we were at one point, so it was like I was confused, but at the last minute I noticed a familiar landmark and realised it was just to the right of the approach we had earlier.  We touched down a little bit hard onto the runway on the opposite side of the airport to where we needed to be.  Meant to be heading toward the C gates and we landed all the way over by the G gates. Long taxi time, lucky we were early.  MSP pulled out the stops and again I got a special livery (always seem to get a retro or something in MSP) with an American Eagle CRJ in new colours.  Can’t hate that!  Pulling up at the C gates the aircraft emptied out fairly quickly and I was able to get out into the terminal pretty quickly.  since we were at C4 and I was heading for F12 I had time to grab some dinner before if there is time, making a stop at the usual Sky Club.  I found a fairly reasonably priced Chicken Mandarin Salad that looked pretty good (good ratio of veg to protein) and headed to the lounge.

It was the same lounge that I always seem to visit, so I know it well.  I had about 10-15 minutes this time, so time for a quick snack, relax, a snack raid and then time to hit the road again.  Wanting some biscoffs for home (since I am a cheap ass) there was plenty on offer, so that meant I had plenty of opportunity to snack raid the biscoffs (both Red & White wrappers for anyone who cares).  I timed my departure right, as by the time I had walked out of the lounge and the entire length of the F concourse (with a few stops for photos), Special Pre Boarding was being called.

Delta Air Lines – DL996
Minneapolis St Paul to Seattle-Tacoma
Boeing 767-300 (N121DE)
Economy Class – Seat 27A

Boarding: 1855 (Gate F12)
Push Back: 1953
Take Off Roll: 2005 (Runway 30L)
Top of Descent: 2056
Touch Down: 2126 (Runway 34R)
Shut Down: 2130 (Gate S8)

First class was called and as usual, a giant Bum Rush by everyone who isn’t in first class or even remotely close to Zone 1 or 2.  I even heard a wife say to her husband “I don’t care if you want to board now, she said First Class, that isn’t us.”  Nice work lady!  Sky Priority was shortly called and I dodged around an elderly couple with Zone 5 on their boarding pass who were blocking the boarding lane.  I stepped onto my first ever Delta 767 and would soon find out that this wasn’t an ER (extended range) bird, so this would be my first EVER flight on a non ER 767-300. The aircraft was fitted with Delta on Demand (aka a Seat Back TV) so I plugged in immediately and just zoned out.  Before I knew it, the announcements began by the crew… one of about 30 that would happen during the flight.   They seemed to repeat themselves about 3 or 4 times after everything they said.  So they would tell everyone to store their bags etc, then 2 seconds later a different flight attendant would do the same thing as though we never heard in the first place. *sigh*

We were told the doors were closing and to switch off all electronic equipment, but then we sat, and sat without another announcement for a solid 20 minutes!  I gave up after 10 minutes and just switched my phone back on and tweeted away a little bit.  Just as the doors were shutting they made an announcement that the doors were not shut after we had to load some extra cargo.  Would of been nice to say this earlier.  One thing that was funny to me was I had been so engrossed in watching the TV that I turned my head outside and there was an A330 sitting at the gate next to us.  All I could think was “That Airbus sure did grow” as the last time I had looked, it was an A319!  We pushed back as the Sun was setting in MSP, but it would be a race across the Sky as the sun was setting as we were heading west.

Climb out was just as powerful as any other 767 flight I have had but it was a bit of a bumpy climb out and the crew came on early to let us know that it would be a little bit bumpy later on.  Once we got to cruise they flicked off the fasten seat belt sign and I did what just about everyone else in the aircraft was doing.  Getting up and moving about.  I grabbed my laptop out as I wanted to get some work done during the flight and got myself sorted.  First off the bat tonight though was to get myself sorted dinner wise then I could get working, rather than the other way round as this was a short 3 hour flight.  About half way through the service, it was suspended as the seat belt sign goes on, and we hit some turbulence for about 20 minutes.  Nothing entirely bad but a little bit more than I have had most of this year.  I ate my dinner and enjoyed my salad.  By the time the service restarted I had finished my dinner and was working away on my laptop.  Pass on the snacks, just a diet coke for me!

I worked away (though I couldn’t access GoGo as it wasn’t working for some reason) and just settled in to focus.  The flight just kind of sped by and before I knew it, we were an hour out of Seattle and it was time for me to get myself sorted out, so I stashed my laptop, grabbed a drink from the back (interrupting the cabin crew chowing down on first class meals) and then headed back to my seat to settle in to finish watching Dark Knight (yes, I did see the Peninsula Helicopter scene, and it wasn’t Christian Bale on it, it was Morgan Freeman).  I chowed down on my two cookies I had stashed and since one of them was a “Birthday Cake” cookie I wished myself a slight happy birthday.  As we stared descent it was almost solid cloud below us but just barely visible in the distance was Mt Rainier, so I at least knew where I kind of was.  We descended way to the south and then turned back around to the North for a 34 series landing.  It was then we hit the real sunset and it was just amazing.  I even snuck in a mobile phone photo so I could tweet it out later (no hate please!).

We landed on 34R and had a quick taxi to the south gates as they had really stood on the brakes to pull us up quickly.  Good thing was, this was the end of my line and considering the bags would have to make their way over from the South Satellite, I wasn’t in a rush.  I let them all shove their way out and when there was a good sized gap, I jumped up and grabbed my gear.  This trip was at an end!  The timing was spot on, as soon as I got to the station the train was there so within seconds I was heading towards baggage claim.  When I got to the other end there was a slight problem, our flight was not on the board at all.  So I just roamed until I saw my flight number.  It wasn’t on any of the baggage claims, So I just wandered till I saw some bags pop out on a fresh belt and checked the tags.  They had our flight number… YAY!

Eventually, after a broken belt was fixed, my bag came out.  Not that Priority baggage did any good as all that came out first was gate checked baggage 🙁  I made it to the car park just as a shuttle was heading over so within 15 minutes of actually getting my bag, I was in the truck and headed home.  Getting home around 11pm after having been up since like 4am EST sleep came easily (I may have had trouble keeping my eyes open on the road).

My god what a day.  You will read more about the full day when I write up my Airline Reporter article but it was the most moving, surreal and amazing experience that I have had over here in the USA.  Yesterday I was honored to be able to accompany the Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory & Yellow Ribbon Honor flights to Washington DC.  We were able to fly directly out of OshKosh on American Airlines and they got special treatment all the way!

I saw and experienced, touching moments (especially on the flight) home and arriving back at OshKosh in the middle of the Airshow and the aircraft being towed right up to Phillips Plaza was overwhelming.  To see the crowds there to support everyone really hit home that as an Australian, we do not have that level of passion for our veterans they do here in the USA (I know that is going to cop some flack, but I don’t care).  While the vets disembarked the airshow continued around them.  The andreline was running high!

To cap off the night I got to go to the new Disney movie premiere for “Planes”.  From the guys who created cars this is most definately a kids movie and I did enjoy it.  But you can’t judge it to harshly, it is a kids movie.  It was fun though and I still have to admit, even in Animation form, I love the Gull Wing look of the Corsair.  I finished the night back home at 11pm after leaving the hotel at 5am!  A Long ass day!

Today I am heading home after a brief stop back at OshKosh on the way home.  I am going to check out the Amphib base and have lunch in OshKosh itself.  I need to make a stop at the Post Office to post home all the swag, but other than that.  I am in Birthday weekend relax mode!

This amazing adventure is almost over!


Current Location: Country Inn & Suites Fond Du Lac

Wow… just wow!  I can’t describe what has been running through my head the last two days.  It has been a full on couple of days with a very early start yesterday filled with press events, but then an afternoon of relative calm.  Compared to today where it was just relaxed and chilled all day.

Yesterday I had press events with Embraer, Commerative Air Force, Daher-Socata, Pilatus & Kestrel.  I skipped on the lunch reception as the food wasn’t what I felt like and instead hit up the Signature Flight Services tent for a bit of a rest.  What I found there was a great tent filled with goodies that they just handed over to me purely for showing up.  Swag because I wanted to rest my feet?  How can I complain!

The rest of the day was a blur till all of a sudden the heavens loomed and the wind grew.  I was starting to get tired and was really considering bailing out when all of a sudden there was an annoucement “Ladies and Gentleman, Please seek cover”.  This was my first real “Oshkosh Storm” but it wasn’t all that bad.  What was funny for me was watching the mass exodus towards the gates with me in it, through the wind, dust, dirt and bit of rain.  By the time I got to the car, the worst of it had passed and that’s where I sat for the next hour.  I rolled out the gates of the parking lot pretty much right at the time of the event I wanted to go to was meant to start.  Had I had internet signal (it was driving me crazy all afternoon) I would of  know to just stay!

Today was pretty relaxed with a hunt on for free hats as so many of them were being given away and since I was going to be sending most of it home and sharing the swag out anyway.  Why not!  There was a twitter battle over who could give me a free hat but hey, I ain’t complaining!  I spent the afternoon strolling down to the far end of the “South 40” which is way way way on the far end of the strip, strolling through the Vintage and Ultralight aircraft.  I didn’t realise how far down they went before I had to turn around and head back towards the main flightline as I had to pick up my prize.

On Wednesday I won an instagram competition of a photo of a engine cowling.  Totally random shot but I was just fooling around with Instagram in between press events.  I ended up winning an awesome Pratt & Whitney swag bag filled with goodies!  Hat, IPAD Cover (not that I have one) and a whole heap of other random stuff but still pretty good none the less.

Tonight I rest up early as tomorrow morning it is up at 330am.  Why so early… I am off on another adventure 😉

Current Location: Carlson Inn & Suites – Fond Du Lac, WI

The First two days of the show for real have passed and they were two very different days.  The funny thing is they both started off with a run and kicking off my step goal before 9am on Monday and before 10am on Tuesday (not sure why there was an hours difference when I probably did as much walking either day).  Pretty awesome few days with Monday spent all day in and out of press conferences and other random explorations, while Tuesday was more of a me day with lots of spotting, time in the sun watching the airshow and just chilling out.

The swag haul has been pretty epic with USB drives galore, baggage tags, and heaps of other goodies, but the winner so far has to go to Cessna. They gave me the most amazing pen and leather notebook binder.  The Pen is just beautiful so that may just become my new daily pen at work.  Out of all the other random swag there has been a good range of goodies and the usual expectations, but apparently I can get a 3D printed thing from GE, so I must find that.

Of the air displays I have seen so far, the Harrier on Tuesday was by far the loudest thing I have EVER heard in my life.  Seriously it was just freaking insane!  Loud as all hell but watching it hover and doing compass turns about 10-15ft in the air… AWESOME!  The most disappointing display though had to of been “Jetman” he was doing it so damn high that even with my 500mm lens he was to high to even get a focus, let alone keep track of him.

Back at show for more press stuff today but should get the afternoon for more me time, we shall see!

Current Location: Embraer Executive Jet Pavilion – EAA AirVenture

I arrived in Madison and headed off to pick up my car.  Unfortunately there is no Emerald Aisle at Madison so it meant that I was at the whim of the staff as to what I was going to end up with.  The bags were not even close to rolling when I reached the area and the car counters were right there, so I got my keys first and was handed the keys to a Chevy Equinox.  Considering I was hoping for something like that for a week so I had some space, guess it worked out ok.  As I turned around the bags were rolling and I had my bag in hand quickly and out to the car.  But I got lost in the car park trying to find where I was meant to be going (I should pay more attention to the directions).

One the flight coming in I had noticed FiFi the B-29 on the ground on the opposite side of the airport and the ladies at the National Counter had given me directions to that side of the airport.  So that is where I was headed, I got around to the far side and there wasn’t all that much of a crowd which was good.  What was dissapointing though was they wanted $15 just to walk up near it, let alone get in it, and then the line to get near it was huge.  With no real cash on me, I just gave in and walk around the fence line, since I knew it would be at OshKosh later in the week.  I bode my time!

I headed into the city via the nearest Walmart to pick up the chair that I was suggested to buy and a slab of water for the week.  The hotel I was staying at was right in the middle of downtown and it was an easy find via the GPS.  I was heading to the Doubletree by Hilton Madison.  When I arrived I had to wait for the hotel shuttle to stop blocking the driveway so I could stop blocking the street and once that happened I was able to park the car briefly.  Checked in nice and simply and my status was not mentioned and if I had of not mentioned it, I doubt I would of gotten any of the benefits.  I had been “upgraded” to a Deluxe room, which is really just a normal room but on the top floor (her own words).  Can’t complain to much I guess.  With check in completed I was handed the Doubletree Cookie.  It was warm which was wierd as the staff had pulled it out of a draw (turns out the draws are warmers and they are baked in the morning and kept warm all day).  I was handed some parking tokens and I put my car away for the moment.

The room was not to bad, for a standard hotel room.  Clean, efficient and nothing to complain about.  Crabtree & Evelyn products in the bathroom and nothing at all to complain about really.  Pictures should do the talking but there was a distinct lack of outlets around the bedside (as expected),  I counted 1.  After a quick settle in the plan was to walk into town and just explore a little, get a coffee to keep me going (since I had been up since very early) and then possibly just chill out for a bit.  I got some directions at the front desk and off I went to the State Capitol and a few other places.

After some exploring and some chilling out I headed out for a dinner to a place that was close to the hotel that apparently served fantastic burgers and I was up for some goodness.  Dotty Dumplings Dowry apparently serves the best burgers in town and it was less than 2 blocks from my hotel.  Score!  I walked over and it was  nice quiet bar kinda atmosphere and when I walked in, was told that there would be a wait for a table, as soon as I said “Bar?” “You can go right over” was the reponse.  Love it!  You get the same menu and I can sit and enjoy it.  Funnily enough as I was sitting down one of the other people at the bar cleared some space for someone else and it turned out to be the owner!  Funny.  I was starting to crash out a bit by now so just took it easy and enjoyed my burger.  I had the Alumni Burger which was really just an awesome Cheeseburger.  Prices weren’t bad and it was a good simple, easy, tasty cheeseburger.. What’s not to like?

I had seen on the drive into town a really weird looking place that was meant to be an ice cream parlour so that is where I headed for dessert and it was a unique experience to say the least.  Ella’s Deli was a bit out of town (almost back out to the airport) and it had the most undescribeable eclectic decor inside.  On the outside it was 50s diner, meets carnival (including Carousel).  Famous for their Grilled Pound Cake sundae, that’s what I went with.  But it was pretty generic and nothing at all special.  BIG dissapointment.  Headed back to the hotel pretty unsatisfied with that part of the adventure, ended up crashing out half way through a video.  Sad sad end to the day.

Sunday 28th July 2013

I woke up pretty well rested and since I couldn’t sleep as long as I had wanted to as probably had to much energy, I hit the gym for a big workout.  9.2 miles on the bike, a mile run and that should do me right?  Well not really, some ab exercises thrown into the mix as well.  Right at that moment all I wanted was to burn off some of the crap from last night and expend some energy and damn sure that is what I did.  What was good for me though was the fact that I had breakfast at the hotel, so I could at least get some coffee into me prior to hitting the road.  Breakfast was in the hotel’s restaurant/sports bar and it was a pretty simple affair.  I wasn’t expecting much but as long as they had plenty of fresh fruit and coffee, I would be sorted.  I was not dissapointed as I was given the entire pot of coffee.

With breakfast out of the way and my route out of town planned I packed up my gear, into the car and checked out.  I mentioned that the cookies were great to reception as I was leaving and she handed me a couple more for the road.  AWESOME!  I settled in for a good drive out of town, I had about an hour and a half up to the hotel where I would drop off my stuff before another 20 minutes to get up to OshKosh from there.  Sadly it was on this drive that things didn’t go to plan.

About 10 Miles out of Madison I got a tire pressure warning.  I figured one of the tires must of been under inflated by the car rental office, so as soon as I found the nearest gas station I would pull in, get some air in the tire and keep on going.  Sadly no.  The nearest gas station was another 10 miles past where the warning came on, but after paying to put air into the tires (not free… wtf!) the warning wouldn’t go off.  I even tried inflating with the car running to see if it was just not enough air and the gauge on the pump was wrong.  Nope that wasn’t it either.  So I called up National as I didn’t want to drive all the way to OshKosh and find out that the problem got worse as I would then be without a car (nearest offices are Madison or Green Bay).  They told me I should start heading back to Madison to switch the car out.  So that’s what I did.

When I got back to Madison airport (only depot open on a Sunday), they told me I should of been instructed to fill the car first (even though I was swapping out a faulty car wtf!) so I had to redrive the 2 miles I had just driven in, back to the nearest Gas station.  #FAIL!  Filling up the car cost me a further $10 and when I got back I wanted to make sure I had a decent car.  Again they gave me another Equinox, but this one had 1/4 of the miles of the other one, and was more pimped out with Leather seats.  After transffering all my gear between the cars (and making the National staff come get the keys of the old vehicle as I wasn’t wasting any more of my morning) 2 hours after I set off for Osh originally, I was this time, really on the way.

Wow… If you have ever seen a guy with his jaw on the floor, that was me yesterday.  It was my first experience at OshKosh and I was just stunned.  The trip report will have a full run down of the mornings happenings (and it wasn’t good but it was eventful) and I got to the show around about 1:30pm ish.

Sunday for me was not going to be a full on day, it was meant to be a quiet, get myself orientated morning where I could get myself situated and scope out where stuff was so that Monday morning I could hit the ground running.  Well that was the smartest idea ever.  When I walked through the gates my jaw dropped.  My god how huge is this place.  Describing it in words is tough, the easiest is “imagine a sea of aircraft as far as the horizon, turn around and picture the same thing.”  That is OshKosh.

I got a basic tour of the place by one of the guys from EAA (thanks Brady) and it was a great way for me to figure out where to go and what to see.  I have my ideas in place of what I need to see and who I need to speak to as well.  By the time I got out of there around 4ish my head was swimming.  I still don’t know how it is going to happen all week but this is going to be pure overload this week I just know it.

I finished off the night by getting myself set up at the hotel and just getting my bearings on the small town that is Fond Du Luc.  It is a half decent base and it seems a lot of the guys from EAA are going to be here as well.  So far I know that Shell Aviation is staying here and some other exhibitors as well.  Good hotel choice!  Plus I found the best ice cream in town just a couple miles down the road 😉

Today is going to be my first real day at the show and things are bound to be just as crazy!

Current Location: Country Inn & Suites – Fond Du Luc, Wisconsin

Seattle to Madison

Saturday 27th July 2013

Early mornings suck, but for the first time in almost 2 months, there was no workout this morning, I was taking a day off.  So after the usual morning details and last minute packing stuff away, cleaning up the apartment etc.  I jumped in the truck and headed south for SeaTac.  The roads were empty (as expected) and within a brief 25 minutes I was entering WallyPark to park the truck up on the rooftop.  Gazing at the sunset for a brief second before heading on the shuttle over to the airport this adventure was about to begin properly.

The airport was a bit of a shambles, but the Delta Check in was relatively quiet.  There was a line at Check in and I was using the Sky Priority lines rather than self check as I wanted to see if I could get Delta to comp my checked bag.  Though not a benefit I should get, apparently a lot of staff get themselves confused and just check it free of charge.  I must of lucked out because I got my bag free.  Even though to begin with she asked for my credit card, when I handed it over with my VA Gold Card she eventually gave it back.  Not sure if she charged it or not, but it did look like she swiped it, I was told there was no charge… we shall see.  I had my boarding passes (though they were going in the bag as I didn’t want the TSA to draw all over them) and I headed for security.  I turned the corner and saw what looked like Hell on Earth…. ahhhh crap!  The normal security lines at the South Check Point were huge!  Not what I wanted to see at all.  But way off down in the distance the priority lane had no one there at all…. SWWEEEEEET!  Thank you Delta #2!  I headed for the Priority line and was through to a scanner in a matter of minutes.  Sadly though I had to go through secondary as apparently something was setting off in my camera bag that looked like a knife.  Pfft whatever.

Bag back from the TSA and I headed to the train for the South Satellite.  Boarding was due to commence in about 15-20 minutes so I knew it would only be a brief pit stop in the club for a coffee and grabbing some food for the road.  The club was fairly quiet but the family that had entered ahead of me was hogging the coffee machine with words like “what button do I push” and “I think I broke it” so I gave up on the coffee notion in the hopes of a Starbucks near the gate, as I had to get a banana anyway (Delta Sky Clubs NEVER have fruit, but United does… funny that).  I grabbed what I could, snapped a few photos, even scored some good shots of the Alaska Retro Jet parked at the Maintenance base at the south end and scampered out of the club with some yoghurt pretzels in hand… yum!  Time to get to the gate.

Delta Air Lines – DL2314
Seattle Tacoma to Minneapolis St-Paul
Boeing 757-300 (N586NW)
Economy Comfort – Seat 14A

Boarding: 0618 (Gate S15)
Push Back: 0659
Take off Roll: 0723 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1137
Touch Down: 1210 (Runway 30L)
Shut Down: 1214 (Gate G15)

I got to the gate area and it was in an area that was being refurbished (not sure what for?) but because it was S15 there was no way to get a shot of the aircraft I was flying, which would make finding out the registration tough.  Within about 3-4 minutes of me arriving at the gate area the preboarding started.  I joined the gate lice in the general vicinity so that I could get down to the aircraft quickly and as soon as they announced Sky Priority i was heading on my way onboard.  What greeted me was an absolute score.  I didn’t realise that the seat I had picked online was literally at Door 2L.  We boarded directly in front of my seat.  Which is a bad thing really for me, because it meant that I would have everyone almost standing on me while they boarded.  Doh!  But I got seated quickly and just stuck it out as the entire aircraft boarded right in front o my face.

I tried to get the registration of the aircraft off the flight attendant in my area as he was greeting people coming onboard and there was some lulls in the swarm of people.  Fail time for this crew member.  First off he told me he didn’t know what a “Tail Number” is (it’s what american’s call the registration) and then he said “Well I know this is a 757-200, but that’s it”.  He had no idea!  Because sitting right in front of him was a safety card that said 757-300 and it was definitely a 300 because the aircraft was and endless walk all the way to the back.  Sadly some crew just have no idea (turns out I think he was the crew leader as well!).  Eventually the door was shut and we pushed back.  I could actually open my window at this point (as before all I saw was the endless stream of people coming onboard from the jetway) and then saw that it was dirty.  *sigh*  Hate the fact that some airlines don’t wash their windows.  O well, I would just deal with it.  The aircraft taxiied out past the Alaska Retro (which must of been just starting up to head towards a gate as the beacon was running and it was under tow) and headed for the north end of the runway.  We would be taking off to the south but there was a long taxi and a hell of a lot of other aircraft ahead of us.  At one point we were 8th or more in line for departure.

As we were making our way to the active, the pilots came on to say we were up to 4th in line so should be off shortly and gave the crew their warning to get ready, although he kind of got himself mixed up.  His speech went as follows:

“Ladies and Gentlemen this is your Captain Speaking.  It seems we are getting closer and there is 4 aircraft ahead of us and one more about to take off, so we should be up in the air shortly.  Cabin Crew, prepare the cabin for arrival” *pause* “I mean, Cabin crew, prepare the aircraft for departure…. we are definitely leaving Seattle”

It made for a great giggle as the cabin filled with laughs, and helped to make this an interesting flight.  The two cabin crew seated at door 2L looked like they had been around the block (that’s probably the nicest way to put it).  Although it wasn’t just the grannies on this Delta flight, one of the crew was a man, and I heard them talking about retirement and he did say he was 63.  I have a feeling the other crew member (female) was way past that age, or at least she looked it.  They did well though no matter what.  My seat mate had a quick chat and it was suprising that she was allowed to sit at the emergency exit with her arm in a sling and the crew never said or did a thing about it… WTF!

We finally took off to the south, and I do love a 757 for one reason.  It was a long slow roll to begin with (which probably meant we were full of cargo) but like most 757’s once they get moving and they pull those noses up, it is up lick a rocket.  How such a long aircraft can get off the ground so quickly and so steeply I have no idea. We were quickly passing 10,000ft and WifFi went on, but due to no seat in front it meant my laptop was up in the overhead bin so couldn’t get to it, or anything really, till the seat belt sign came off.  People were already up and moving within seconds of that point and I was suprised the crew said or did nothing at all.  Gotta love North American airlines.  My last flight on ANA the crew would of been all angry at me if I even looked like I was going to move while the seat belt sign was on.  O how things are so different over here.

In the end the seat belt sign was no where near coming off, the service had begun and I had my first cup of coffee in hand so I gave in, I got up off my butt and hit the bathroom.  I became one of “those people”.  I grabbed my bags out of the overhead while I was at it and shoved them by my seat so I could access them.  Then it was time to get down to catching up with the world.  The tray table was just tiny and barely fit my laptop, but the mission was get myself online, read some blogs (though when I finally got into them, there was only one update since last night) and then do a bit of relaxing.  Since my session was free, it was all about doing the stuff online that I don’t normally do and not wasting the session.  So I sat back to reading through some trip reports on flyer talk while enjoying my peanut butter bagel, some more coffee and some of the dried fruit I had “liberated” from the lounge.

The flight sped by and we must of had a good tailwind as what was meant to be a 3-4 hour flight west bound, is only a 2 hour 40 minute flight today.  Awesome!  I got a good amount of stuff done and enjoyed my reading time.  I was slowly eating my way through breakfast and just chilling out and then all of a sudden the WiFi went down.  Well, it was about an hour to go, I had to put my EarPlanes back in, as good a time as any to shut stuff down.  So I packed up my gear and instead got the tablet out to do a bit of reading instead.  With a book and some more coffee (the male crew member had been drinking it most of the flight and it wasn’t half bad) I was a content traveler.

Descent began over cloudy skies (and to be honest I hadn’t seen much out the window most of the flight anyway) and it meant I had to pack my gear up and stow it.  I kept the tablet down as it was small and could fit in the tiny tiny pocket next to the seat.  I kept reading till I had to turn it all off and we started for the final approaches into MSP.  We cleared out of the clouds above the Minnesota country side and it was nice to see a very different landscape compared to the PNW (not that I don’t love living out there).  Minnesota was flat… super flat, and there was a lot of green fields.  Then it became light industrial with freight centers and things like that as we got closer and closer to the airport.  I couldn’t see the airport near me so figured it was out the other side of the aircraft (which it was).  We landed fairly gently and there wasn’t much of a taxi for us as we headed for the G concourse (where the heavies usually depart from at MSP).

We pulled into G15, almost at the end of the concourse and one good thing about row 14, your usually first or second off the aircraft. I was off quickly and out into the terminal probably before the staff had even thought we would be as the doors to the terminal at the end of the jetway were not even open!  I forgot to grab a shot of the aircraft I just wanted to get my butt towards my gate as it was a long long walk.  O well, I have plenty of shot of Delta 757s from my tiem at LAX and SEA spotting.  It was a nice walk as I trudged along getting the steps counted in the terminal.  The walk felt like it was going forever but things started to look familiar around the central concourse area and then I knew exactly where to head.  I checked my watch and had about 10 minutes to hit the Skyclub before I would have to get moving again.  Plenty of time for a bathroom break, a quick drink, grab a snack and head off.  So I did just that!

The club was pretty quiet and I did comment on that to the staff at the entrance and she told me that it was normal at this time of the day as it was just before the International departure guests should start flooding in, but she told me to enjoy it while it lasts.  I wouldn’t get long but it was still nice either way.  Grabbed a quick snack (no biscoffs again!  What is with my luck and Skyclubs lately), I mean seriously!  I was hoping to grab some for the road as I seriously love those things.  I grabbed an apple instead for lunch and some vegies and it the road towards my next flight.

Headed along the F concourse towards the next gate and when I got there, people were still coming off the aircraft, not a good sign as we should of been boarding literally the moment I arrived.  It did give me time to do a few things, like catch up on emails and stuff that had come through while I was in the air prior to arrival and make a few tweets.  I did get a decent shot of my next aircraft and then just waited.  I did approach the counter to see if I could get a better seat (figuring the flight was full) but they told me it wasn’t and then put me in a AB seat pair with a blocked adjacent seat.  Thank you Delta!  Though the system crashed right as he went to print my new boarding pass, I could sympathize with this and I was happy to wait a few extra minutes since I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.  My old seat ended up going to someone standing next in line at the counter trying to adjust the seats for his family of 5.

Delta Air Lines – DL725
Minneapolis St Paul to Madison
McDonnell Douglas MD-90 (N948DN)
Economy Class – Seat 23A

Boarding: 1255 (Gate F8)
Push Back: 1324
Take Off Roll: 1335 (Runway 30R)
Top of Descent: 1357
Touch Down: 1413 (Runway 36)
Shut Down: 1417 (Gate 7)

I boarded once they called Sky Priority and headed down the jetway towards what would be a new aircraft for me.  The MD-90 is an ellusive aircraft in Australia (all of the MDs are) so I figured that getting myself on them when I can is a good idea.  This Mad Dog looked good on the inside and I could swear it had been refurbed recently as it looked slick.  The nice new Delta slim line seats were in evidence and that could not be laughed at.  Even the overheads looked like they had been refitted as they just looked awesome.

I settled into my seat and wondered if I was really going to end up with a blocked seat next to me.  The crew were pushing hard to get us out on time so they were trying everything to get people seated.  Near that family I had given up my seat for up front a lady was causing a bit of a ruckus and blocking the aisle.  That didn’t last long as the crew member settled her down in an instant with the words “it’s a 32 minute flight, perhaps you should just deal with it”.  The cabin laughed and the lady had been put in her place.  I mean seriously why bother for a 30 minute flight.

We did push back eventually and it wasn’t all that late, but I had a feeling this schedule had been padded pretty big if it’s a 32 minute flight with an hour block time.  That’s what happens in the hub cities, when you spend half the time taxiing or on the ground, they put in major block time. We had a fairly quick taxi over to 30R as the take offs were dueling at that point in time.  It was RJ central on our side though, with CRJ after CRJ after CRJ heading for the runway.  It was finally our turn in line.  No real view out my wet window though, till we got rolling at least.

Another rocket ship take off and it is slightly wierd to not see any engines when your sitting over the wing.  A great view as we took off with a 757 adjacent to us, though I am pretty sure I missed the perfect shot as we both banked away.  This was going to be a quiet flight though as the crew announced that this was a short flight so service would only be offered “if required”, which is code for “we can’t be bothered”.

I settled in to eat my apple and snacks and did not even see the crew at all during the flight, it was as though they did not exist.  The trash sat on the seat next to me till we were almost into Madison past descent.  What suprised me was how quick those MD’s could descend.  It felt like the pilot was throwing it around.  Speaking of the pilot, the Captain had the most amazing sounding Pilots Voice.  He had that voice that you expect all the pilots on TV to have.  That voice that just had that iconic sound, it is hard to describe but it just commands authority and calmness all at the same time.  As we headed into MSN on finals he gave his farewell speech and it was long winded but I didn’t care.  It was also the first time I had heard a pilot ask everyone to say thank you to a service member, like himself.  He must of been in the Air Force because he had said his rank was Lt Col and I was tempted to go up and hand over one of my cards.  I held back though.

As we came into Madison I noticed something off in the distance as we turned off the runway.  I saw a giant silver tail.  It looked awfully familiar, I wasn’t sure if I was mistaken or not but I could of sworn it was FiFi.  FiFi the B29 Superfortress, the only one in existence still flying, was due to be in Osh later in the week, but to see it here… Awesome!!  It was it and I made the decision right then and there to 100% go and see it no matter what.  We pulled up to the gate and by the time the aircraft emptied out enough for me to get out, it had been long enough for me to confirm via the web that it was in fact FiFi and she was on the opposite side of the airport to me.

Madison airport was suprisingly modern looking and the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the store filled with cheeseheads but more the actual nice looking concourse.  This tiny airport in the middle of no where in the midwest was way better than Seattle!  So not fair.  I headed down to baggage claim but saw the car desks first with no one around.  Figure may as well get my car keys first since there is no emerald aisle.  I spotted my rental contract already printed ready to go from my side of the counter, and within 2-3 minutes I had the keys to a Chevy Equinox in hand.  Which is pretty good beause that is the kind of car I wanted.  I was hoping for a small SUV for the week so that I had space to spread out my crap when commuting back and forth to Osh.  Plus the hatch would make it easier getting the gear out when I needed it.

Keys in hand, bag in hand after about 10 or so bags came off the belt and I was headed out into the Car park to find my car.  I did get lost as I hadn’t listened to the directions properly and found the Equinox way way way way way out the back of the rental lot.  Farewell Madison Airport… time to hit the road!


Around this time in 2012, I had been watching all the tweets going on for the OshKosh EAA AirVenture and was totally jealous of all the Avgeek good times that were going on. I couldn’t stand it any more after a solid week of it and decided right then and there, I HAD to go. I set it in stone that in 2013, come hell or high water, I was going. What is AirVenture? It is the largest gathering of General Aviation in North America, if not the world. Put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) based in OshKosh Wisconsin, it is a week long Avgeek mecca where you can learn all about how to build your own aircraft or just sit back and watch the airshows happening daily.

The hardest thing I knew from the outset would be arranging accommodation for a week long trip to the middle of no where for a giant gathering like this. Thankfully I had a boat load of Club Carlson Points thanks to their promos last year. I made the booking for what accommodation I could get during the festival and was happy that from the Sunday to the Saturday I was covered, but there was a downside. The closest I could get was in Fond Du Luc which was a good 20 miles to the South, but to be honest, a 25 minute drive each day where I wouldn’t have to pay for a room, or camp (like so many people prefer to do) would make my life so much better. So I ended up booking the Country Inn & Suites Fond Du Luc and set about to make the following drive every day for a week:


After that it was pretty much sit back and wait, the rest I would deal with after a while. I ended up booking the accommodation at a good time, because a couple of months later I wanted to see if i could add an extra night once I had some more points with Carlson, yeah nope! Nothing left at all, so I guess I was going to have to find alternative arrangements. I left the first & night of my trip unbooked (as why go Sunday to Saturday only for vacation when I have two other days free) and waited till I could get flights.

Fast Forward 6 or so months and some airfares are starting to drop in price for my dates. So it’s time to get searching. I used the ITA Matrix and a few other tools to try and work out the best way to get to Oshkosh. Now Oshkosh is a small town in the middle of no where, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to fly in directly. Instead it meant flying into an outlying city and driving in from there. So I was looking at Milwaukee  Madison, Green Bay and Even Chicago, but the fare difference vs driving distance from Chicago just made it pointless, so that idea was scrapped. In the end Delta had the best fares (I was comparing Delta & United) but it wasn’t just cost I was looking at (since they were just extortion on any airline to that area). I wanted to try and get new airports obviously, since I am an avgeek after all. In the end i went with into Madison and out of Green Bay. I did however have to come home a day early. The map isn’t so impressive as I was connecting in Minneapolis in both directions.

My Daily Commute for the Trip

SEA-MSP-MSN/GRB-MSP-SEA… boring huh?

So with the flights all booked and when broken down look like this:

27th July 2013 – DL2314 – Seattle to Minneapolis St Paul – 757-300 – 0655-1207
27th July 2013 – DL725 – Minneapolis St Paul to Madison – MD-90 – 1315-1415
03rd August 2013 – DL4828 – Green Bay to Minneapolis St Paul – CRJ-900 – 1715-1824
03rd August 2013 – DL996 – Minneapolis St Paul to Seattle – 767-300 – 1930-2115

It was a good variety of aircraft with my first domestic 767 flight with Delta and my first 757-300 in quite some time.  I love these ultra long birds!  For some reason I was able to assign an exit row at booking for no extra cost.  Unsure why, as they don’t normally let me do that but hey, who cares!

With that all booked and having to forgo my final night of holiday and return home on the 3rd (which was probably a good thing as it meant I could clean up and do stuff before having to go back to work on the Monday without an issue.  But where to stay on the Saturday night?  Since I was getting in Mid afternoon, do I drive straight to OshKosh?  Do I stay in Madison for the first night and have a real vacation night, before driving off the next morning.  Madison it is!  I might as well have a day of rest right, before all the bedlam begins.

With that I searched around for where to stay in Madison.  Most places around downtown were around the $100 a night mark but that didn’t include any food, or parking.  Hrmmmmmm.  Since my Hilton Gold status was still floating around, and my Club Carlson status was still Gold as well, I figured that it would be easier to just target those two chains.  The Radisson included breakfast but no parking.  The Doubletree downtown (in a good location) had free parking and my Hilton Gold would give me breakfast.  I waited before booking to see if there was going to be any special promos or anything but sadly there was not.  So I used a promo that came out for a new service called Pointshound which allowed you to double dip as they would provide you with extra points for just making a booking with them, and still keep your program benefits with Hilton.  Sounds good to me!

So that was all my hotels arranged and the car was booked with National (though there isn’t an Emerald Aisle at Madison Airport, so this would be interesting experience at the least).  The rate on the car was not to bad for a solid 8 day rental so I can’t really complain.  With my passes to OshKosh arranged via the Media desk thanks to my work with AirlineReporter it was all settled, now it was just time to wait.  The emails coming in from the Media announcements did not help with the excitement and pretty soon… It all began!

My next adventure is fast approaching, Just a quick, short post (As there will be a full trip report and also posts from the road) to say that on Saturday I get to embark on what could be an epic adventure, but then it might not be.

Last year during the OshKosh airshow I saw all the tweets of everyone having a great time full of Aviation goodness, and I was jealous. So jealous that I decided I couldn’t stand not going, so I decided that this year, I was going. So now I am! I managed to get a weeks worth of accommodation out of a Club Carlson promo last year that was run for points, so my accomodation is essentially free. I have a media pass for the show thanks to my work with AirlineReporter and I had to end up paying for my car hire and the flights, so all up a weeks vacation would run me about $800. Which ain’t half bad really! (the flights were super expensive to the middle of no where).

I have started an extra little category that is just for Osh Adventures but the trip report will be written that is for sure and I will try to keep a running blog on the go from the road about adventures each day. I am looking forward to not only getting out to see everything but just what each day is going to hold since there will be so many new experiences and people to meet. Not only that but all the new tech coming out for the avgeeks and the media access I should get as well (let’s see if I can get myself in the air!).

Stay tuned for lots of fun times ahead!