The second major reason for taking the Garaggio Ez out west was to be pre-positioned for the Mojave Experimental Fly In which was April 15-17. Ever since they shortened the day to 24 hours on me, I have had a hard time keeping up with blogging, much less flying the airplane 1600 miles in one shot. So having the airplane within a 2 hour flight of Mojave was a way of increasing my chances of being able to attend.
Before I tell you about our experience, I want to first put a plug in for the Mojave Experimental Fly In (MEFI). It is organized by Elliot Seguin and Justin Gillen, and they do a fantastic job. It is without a doubt one of the most fun fly-ins that I have ever been to. In fact the whole weekend is probably up there with the best aviation weekends of my life. If I was somehow limited to one fly in a year, I would alternate this one and Oshkosh every other year. The coolest thing about MEFI is that there is so much variety of airplane type and a ton of true experimenters with something new, different, and exciting. For more information, visit their website. http://www.mojaveflyin.com
As with just about any flying adventure it is more fun to do it as a group. Craig Henry was my back seater. Also, a friend and fellow EZ driver (who I hadn’t met before but had talked to a bunch online) and I had arranged to rendezvous at the Deer Valley airport and fly out to Mojave as a two ship. His name is Ben, and he invited his cousin Michael along in his back seat.
The night before we were supposed to leave, Thursday night, we saw a notice on the MEFI Facebook page that the Friday events (poker run, flower bomb, and spot landing competition) were cancelled due to forecast extreme winds in Mojave. High winds really isn’t that unusual for the Mojave area, but the forecast was up to 50 KTS. That was a bit high for our liking and in the mountains can cause rotors, mountain wave, and all kinds of nasty conditions.
Since we had guests in from out of town, the time off work, and everything set for a fun weekend of committing aviation, we did not want to cancel or delay our trip. So we did what you can only do with the freedom, flexibility, and options available to general aviation pilots. We started looking for places to go with good weather that would be just as fun. After looking at options, we decided to fly to Chino, CA and visit the planes of fame museum. Additionally, some of our AirVenture Cup racers, Paul and Pam Tackabury, have a hangar there and we could visit them. Have I mentioned how awesome it is to have the ability to come up with a plan B on the drop of a hat?
Departure Day – Friday
As planned, Ben and Mike arrived at Deer Valley bright and early. Craig and I got Betty out of the hangar and we rendezvoused by the fuel pump. After introducing ourselves, we did some flight planning and did a briefing. It turned out that we decided to go as more of a gaggle than a formation. Ben didn’t have much formation experience, so it was the safer course of action. Our original plan was to be wheels up by 0800, and we were wheels up by 0820. Not bad for my usual timing.
The flight over to Chino was very enjoyable. Of course I had to throttle back quite a ways to fly with Ben. I don’t think Betty has had the aft half of the throttle worked so much in her lifetime. He has an O-320 in his airplane. (Sorry Ben, I had to say it.) On our way to Chino, we flew over what looked like a dust storm, which was kind interesting to see from above.
We did get a bit of moderate turbulence going through the San Gorgonio pass. But it was very short lived and the winds calmed as soon as we were in the LA basin. Navigating around all of the airspace there was a bit of a challenge, but doable with modern avionics.
When we arrived at Chino, we were all hungry, so we went to the famous Flo’s Airport Cafe. It is right on the airport, and the food is great. Of course, Craig found the pies first and had to order a slice.
Then it was time for the Planes of Fame museum. Which was fantastic. It also allowed us to do the EAA’s #AVChallenge. Every month they are challenging pilots to do something with their airplane. This month it was to fly to an aviation museum. So we were able to check another thing off the list with this trip.
While we were there, we got to see the extremely rare Northrop Flying Wing start up and taxi out to go to the March Air Force Base Fly In.
And a hands on tour of an ME109 German WWII fighter that was undergoing restoration. We were told it was the first airplane flying with slats.
These are the original wing bolts that used to hold the wings on during WWII. Quite a bit of history those bolts have.
There were a whole bunch of rare airplanes and neat things to see.
After the museum, we went and visited Paul and Pam in their hangar. It is almost a museum in and of itself. Paul is a very neat guy with lots of stories. He also does fantastic work. Right now he is working on restoring a Waco RNF2. It is a work of art. The attention to detail is second to none. He even went to the Smithsonian to get original drawings for the airplane to make it authentic.
The rest of his collection is equally as impressive.
After our tour, we looked at the weather in Mojave, and decided the weather had calmed enough. So we decided to make the trip over the ridge to Mojave. It was a short 30 or so minute hop. We did get some turbulence over the mountains again, but that was to be expected.
The only event for the night that didn’t get cancelled was the indoor fly in. It was an event for radio controlled and rubber band powered airplanes in a big auditorium with pizza and beverages. They held a challenge for adults and kids to build a rubber band powered airplane and see who’s can stay aloft the longest. We arrived late, so we only had 30 minutes to build our rubber band powered airplane. So we made it a team event. We didn’t have a long enough time to qualify for the prizes, but it was a ton of fun.