Bull buffalo and Oshkosh
August 2, 2016
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  • Okay, guys (gals? I hate unsigned criticisms) you took this old boy to the woodshed for last week’s column. Had you read a little closer you might have noticed that I was only relaying the opinion of longtime friend Don. Then I noted that Dr. Wayne had the correct response. We need to honor and advertise all our assets the agriculture related and the tourist attractions. Yes, we are all in this together.

    Personally, I like the Buffalo Commons theme because it points out the wrongness of the liberal Poppers thesis. Actually, liberals on both coasts have little clue that we who live in “fly-over” country are real people and that we love living right here in the center of the good old USofA.

    Carol Schlegel may be a “rancher and farmer” well last I knew she lived on a farm but possibly she is just doing her job as head of the group that spends lodging tax money. Other People’s Money, OPM, a highly addictive elixir. Of course, she advocates activities that bring tourists to use our motels and dine in our restaurants because that is where her OPM comes from. More power to her–keep up the good work my friend.

    Your columnist did not exactly miss out on all of new EDC director Kirk Dixon’s attempts at gaining direction for his work. Kirk and I sat down and had a long conversation just that. You see for several months, some years ago, I was the interim director of the local EDC and for me that was an eye-opener. Until then I had no idea how many individuals had ideas for businesses and most were in search of funding. OPM again.

    Many were great pursuits to expand the economy of this area the Work Ethics Camp, the Dairies and Valmont come to mind. (In all honesty, I was not director for those projects but was on the board pushing hard for them.) Then too, Mr. Booher tried to build helicopters and that worked out about like a dedicated coffee shop that went bust. I was struck by Mr. Dixon’s enthusiasm and knowledge of this area. More power to him.

    File it under things “I never need to do again!” Last week was the big Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The largest Fly-In in the world. My friend with a nice twin engine Beechcraft Baron wanted to combine some multi-engine flight instruction with the pleasure trip to attend the huge gathering of pilots and their airplanes. Envision lots of arriving aircraft of all sorts funneling into a very limited airspace–reminds me of bees flitting around the entrance to a hive. Controlled chaos. We were about to arrive at the prescribed spot above the town of Ripon, Wisconsin, at proper altitude and airspeed, when the announcement came over the radio that our intended destination the Oshkosh airport was not accepting our type of aircraft. Evidently their parking areas were all full. Bummer.

    Expecting and prepared for such shenanigans we elected to divert a bit south and land at the airport of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. That worked and they parked us with about 500 other aircraft on the grass alongside a taxiway. Now understand that Fond du Lac normally averages about two dozen general aviation airplane arrivals and departures a day about like the traffic at McCook’s airport. There is no control tower again like McCook. Not on Oshkosh Fly-In week the traffic increases to somewhere around 500 arrivals and departures a day so they set up a temporary control tower. No problem plenty of volunteers and they have their stuff together.

    Ah, the two glorious days of roaming the ramp, visiting the vendors, looking at airplanes on display-war birds, home-builts, production, old, new, rubbing elbows with friendly aviation minded people from all over the USofA, well the world actually, county fair type food, hours long airshows. Ah, it was heaven for aviation nuts like me, Shad and the two young men he took along seemed to be interested in beer and female shapes in addition to airplanes. Been there before but as always it overwhelms the senses.

    A housekeeping note. Aviation people are a caring lot. Never is there a loose scrap of paper or trash on the ground. No pushing or shoving. People are just friendly, trusting, seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves and each other. Hot weather yes and sunscreen and wide brim hats sold like hotcakes.

    Like all good things the experience could only last so long. We had motel reservations for two days and it was time to depart for home. The first hint of frustrations to come was a swarm of firetrucks parked on the end of the runway back at Fond du Lac. Some poor soul had crashed on takeoff and the air ambulance helicopters didn’t portend good things. (No I don’t know any of the details) More immediately the airport was closed, no aircraft movement allowed for an hour or two. Then, too, the weather was marginal with low hanging clouds so it was several frustrating hours before we were cleared to depart on an instrument flight plan. “If you have time to spare go by air.”

    Sure I’ll go again but next time it will be with Grannie Annie and we’ll pull the camper for a place to stay, relax and relief from a steady diet of Wisconsin brats.

    To relax a bit on returning home I drove to Omaha to take my brother to the really big Offutt Air Show on Saturday. Good one!

    That is the way I saw it.