We are creeping up on a day that may or may not prove to be a good day out. This one is weather dependent – something that is often true but in this case more so than normal. At the end of January, EAA schedule their annual ski plane fly in. Held at Pioneer Field it is combined with a chili cook and a celebration of the birthday or Audrey Poberezney, wife of the founder of EAA.
Aside from the weather being good enough to fly, two other things are required. First, there has to be enough snow on Pioneer Field for the planes to land. Second, there has to be snow at wherever they are taking off from! (Some planes do have skis with wheels that can go through them so are more flexible in operation but they are in the minority.) If the snow isn’t playing ball, the fly in has lost its main interest.
I originally planned to go a couple of years ago. Lack of snow canceled that trip for me. I decided to have another go last year. This time things were a lot better. Oshkosh is about two and a half hours north of us if the traffic is flowing. Since the fly in can start early, you either have to get going really early or stay locally. If you can find a nice hotel not so far away that your wife likes that has a spa, you can all be happy!
I had been in touch with Jim Koepnik (until very recently, EAA’s chief photographer) to keep an eye on the developments in the days ahead of the event and Jim ended up being an excellent guide (provider of transport and a warm car to hang out in between aircraft) throughout the day. (Good luck Jim with whatever comes next!) We ended up having great weather and when wrapped up suitably felt little of the cold. I got a bunch of shots and ended up writing a piece for Global Aviation Resource on the day.
This year the plans have been less effective. Originally I intended to repeat what we did last year. However, there had been no snow for ages and there didn’t appear to be any coming soon. We decided to scrub the hotel. I had been in touch with EAA Chapter 1414 about their group trip up and possibly putting cameras on their planes. They offered a ride up. Since I originally thought I would already be there, I had not intended to accept. However, since the hotel cancellation, this became a good possibility if the event went ahead.
Now we have had snow! A big storm came through Illinois and Wisconsin last week. I’m not sure whether the conditions will be good by the time of the event or whether the weather will allow flying anyway. However, we have a plan of sorts so now we just have to wait and see what comes next. Fingers crossed. In the mean time, here are the shots from last year.