Oshkosh 2011 – Day 1 – Getting there isn’t always the best part

Waiting to leave Melbourne

As usual, it seems that there’s never enough time to get everything done before commencing a long journey but, despite an ever increasing “to do” list, we managed to arrive at the airport with just enough time to grab a quick photo at the gate with a phone before boarding. The flight itself went about as well as any other 14 hour slog across the Pacific, passing the time with movies, magazines and chatting. Attempts at sleep were unsuccessful even though we’d not had a lot of sleep lately as our bodies were sure it was still only mid-afternoon. The cabin crew were friendly, service was efficient and everything else about the flight went well except for not being able to sleep through it.

Passing time onboard

Arrival at LAX provided plenty of views of aircraft from around the world and the chance to experience the “park & tow” arrival at our gate. Surprisingly our transition through customs & immigration was much less of an ordeal than some recent stories we’d heard, taking only an hour to get from the aircraft and out into the Los Angeles summer air. A quick walk through the heat soon returned us to the cooler air of a domestic airline terminal where we checked in almost painlessly via computerised kiosk and a bag drop counter.

Passing through the TSA screening point was surprisingly easy and about on par with going through the scanners at Melbourne’s domestic terminals. The staff were courteous and aside from Grant’s belt buckle triggering a metal detector for the first time ever, it all went smoothly and we were soon walking through the concourse looking for a place to set up a base while we waited for our flight.

Tacos are for brekky?

Being limited to Starbucks, Burger King or a standard US eatery, we went with the latter and grabbed a table. You know you’re in America when there’s tacos on the breakfast menu…

Later at the gate we met up with Bas Scheffers who was with us at NatFly 2011 and had booked his Oshkosh 2011 trip some 12 months ago. Despite Bas being allocated a seat when he left Chicago and our allocations being done at the gate, we wound up in rows 12, 13 & 14 on the same side of the very packed aircraft. Fortunately it was only a 4 hour trip to Chicago as Grant & Steve had both drawn middle seats, discovering that on a domestic 737 these seats probably have less room than Alan Shepard did in his Mercury space capsule.

Yup, it’s Chicago

Our arrival at Chicao’s O’Hare International took a rather circuitous route around a number of thunderstorms giving us a great view of the city with the lake behind it. After landing we then followed the longest taxi route we’ve ever experienced, seeming to go around the entire airport before finally making it to our gate. From there it was off to pick up our luggage, meet our friend Rob Mark from CommAvia and drive to his place where we’re staying while we try to adjust our body clocks to the US Central time zone. So far the adjustment is proving to be a challenge as we have arrived during a heat wave, experiencing the hottest weather Chicago’s had in the past 10 years.

Steve’s going to stay here in Chicago for a few days getting further acclimatised & preparing our equipment for Oshkosh while Grant & Bas are heading out to Rockford to join with the Bonanzas to Oshkosh group. We’ll be covering the arrival into Oshkosh by both road and air then camping out on the airport grounds for the whole week trying to absorb as much aviation heaven as we can. Watch this space! :)

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