Testimonials

Updated February 24, 2013 10:00 EDT

This page is open to every Cessnas 2 Oshkosh fellow pilot, relative or friend who would like to share the story of their experience with Cessnas 2 Oshkosh. You may write about your preparation for the arrival, the pilgrimage to Juneau and Oshkosh, the gathering at Juneau, the flight to Oshkosh and the arrival, hanging out at Cessna Base Camp, the BBQ dinner, AirVenture and the return flight home. Certainly, you don't have to limit yourself to these topics. Do your own thing.

Send us your stories, preferably as a text document attached to an email message, but we will try to work with any media that reaches us. Send us also pictures that you would like to include in your story. You don't have to worry about formatting the document or resizing and cropping your pictures. We'll take care of that. In some situations we may have to do some editing, but we will keep it at a minimum.

Personal experiences are the best advertisement for our mass arrival. The stories depicted below are good examples of what we're looking for. Click on a line to go to that particular story or scroll down the page.


Enjoy the stories!
The Cessnas 2 Oshkosh Team


Read testimonials from:

Jerry Olson - Seabrook, TX

Gil Velez - New York, NY

Bobbi Donley & Rod Reeves - Halethorpe, MD

Robert & Sharon Baker - Coto de Caza, CA

James Andres - Delaware, Ohio

Chip Davis, EAA Chapter 1114 - Apex, North Carolina


What Pilots have written about Cessnas 2 Oshkosh...

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Making Oshkosh More Fun and Safer



Jerry Olson
Seabrook, TX

Mon 09 Aug 2010

How can you make Oshkosh more fun and flying into OSH safer at the same time? Read on!

This year, in planning to fly into Oshkosh I found what I thought would be a safer way to fly in instead of using the required Fisk arrival routes. Last spring (March 2010 timeframe) I found the Cessnas 2 Oshkosh (C2O) website and signed up after reviewing their info. C2O organizes the Cessna mass arrival and is sponsored by Cessna Pilots Association. It is a formation flight arrival which was limited to 75 aircraft for 2010. To participate, each pilot is required to attend a 1 day formation flying clinic, and to attend the pre-flight briefing just prior to the formation flight departure to Oshkosh. C2O had several formation flight clinics this year around the country, which were free except for the cost to get there and stay overnight if necessary. The departure airport for the formation flight to Oshkosh is Dodge County airport about 40 miles south of Oshkosh.

Due to the flooding and wet camp grounds, we were not able to land the planes at Oshkosh this year. We were scheduled to fly in on Saturday, 7/24, so instead of landing we did a formation fly-over with 25 planes participating, and then returned to Dodge Co. In all there were 58 planes that arrived at Dodge Co. for the mass arrival. We had three Cardinal RG join the mass arrival, and we were all grouped together in one flight element for the formation fly-over. (And, thanks to Jim Perkins and Andy Pawlish in N7568V, I now have two gorgeous pictures of my plane in flight.)

After flying the formation flight, I've decided it's the only way I will fly into Oshkosh in the future. (I did fly into Oshkosh the following Saturday, 7/31, via the Fisk arrival. Something I'm not excited about doing again; too many unknowns and aircraft all at once.) The C2O mass arrival is coordinated with the EAA, and is approved via a letter of agreement with the FAA. For the mass arrival the Oshkosh airport is closed to all other traffic, so that eliminates the biggest safety concerns I have for flying in, so many other airplanes and not knowing what they may do. Because all the pilots in the mass arrival have been trained and attended the flight briefing, there's little question what the other planes may do, where they are, or where they may turn. For the formation flight, all the planes are matched up in flight elements of 3 planes of similar performance, and the planes in each element are flown at safe 4 wing-spans distance. The gap between elements is 1/2 mile, with wider gaps in between some to compensate for higher performance aircraft elements flown at higher speeds.

At the end of the formation fly-over on 7/24, the landing back at Dodge Co. was something to behold; 25 planes all landing on the same 5,000' runway in rapid sequence. (The planes are landed one at a time; the 3-plane elements go into trail formation about 4 miles from the airport.) There were usually four planes on the runway taxiing on the "cold" (up-wind) side to the end while the fifth was landing. All 25 planes were landed within about 10 minutes, with only one going around. The biggest hang-up was the taxi-way backing up; becoming filled faster than the first planes could taxi back to the ramp.

I suspect some of the above descriptions sound a bit un-nerving to some; it would to me. However, the formation flight training, the pre-flight briefings, and the overall organization by the C20 folks are exemplary. Their primary focus is on safety. One of the organizers, Rodney Swanson, flies formations daily for work, and does most of the planning for the actual flights, as well as the briefings. This organization and focus on safety makes the formation flight a true joy.

Because of the wet grounds at Oshkosh, C2O got a U-haul and busses and we all loaded up our camping gear and moved to Oshkosh North 40 on Sunday, 7/25. Camping with this group turned out to be some of the highlights of the week. CPA provided a large tent for group functions, C2O provided a BBQ Sunday night, and Cessna, CPA, and several other sponsors came by on subsequent nights with drawings for some great prizes. A couple nights there were movies in the tent and each morning there was a group breakfast. Looking back it is really amazing that three guys, Rodney, Craig and Gil living hundreds of miles apart, can put together and coordinate such a successful gathering, do it with such a focus on safety, and deal with all the last minute complications; such as the flooded grounds at Sloshkosh this year.

On Saturday 7/31, Rodney told me that he has gotten approval from the FAA for an unlimited number of Cessna's to join in the C2O Mass Arrival for 2011. I'd sure like to see a whole bunch of those being Cardinals. I'm sure planning on being one of them.

Here's the link to the C2O website for anyone interested: www.cessnas2oshkosh.com

-Jerry Olson-

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The Return Trip From Sloshkosh 2010



Gil Velez
New York, NY

Sun 01 Aug 2010

Good to be back home! We had an interesting return trip. We didn't leave OSH on Friday until after 2:00 pm, made it into Juneau at around 3:30 pm and couldn't get the plane loaded until late. Before we knew it, it was already 5:00 pm and we had not taken off. For us, it would have meant a landing at White Plains at 1:30 AM. We decided to spend the night in Watertown. Thank God we made that decision. I'll explain later.

We had a nice dinner with Alex, Gabi and Rodney and went to bed early. Next day, got up at 6:00, breakfast with Alex, Gabi and Rodney, bumped into Jim Blackman, one of our pilots from Ontario who finally made it to Sloshkosh, and off we went.

After taking care of one last thing, we took off IFR and broke out at 3,500'. A minute later, cancelled IFR and continued VFR on top. First fuel stop, Wood County Airport (1G0) in Bowling Green, OH. The line boy was by himself, obviously inexperienced and overwhelmed by the OSH crowd. He topped off both tanks instead of pumping only 13 gallons in each side as I had asked. He didn't know what to do and almost had a meltdown. I had to teach him (which I love to do) how to cut off a piece of rubber garden hose and suck excess gas into 5 gallon gas containers. We got in the crew car and went to eat Mexican fast food (Chipotle, not bad at all!) while the boy cleared my refund with his manager. We came back and took off into a high overcast and stayed at 3,500'.

Then came the excitement! While flying inside the Cleveland Bravo airspace at 3,500' the "VOLTS" light in the annunciator panel began to flicker and the ALT FLD breaker popped out. I ran the electrical failure checklist twice with no luck. Called Cleveland Approach, told them we were switching to a handheld radio and asked them to keep us on flight following using our primary radar target. They were cool with that and I shut everything down. Flew to Youngstown, Ohio (YNG), an ANG base, landed on runway 14 (the longest) with six emergency vehicles awaiting us. I didn't ask for them. In fact, when the controller asked me if I needed assistance, I just said: Yes, I need a mechanic, I have no electrical power and I need the longest runway in case I can't deploy flaps. ATC and ground crew were dolls. Good kids handling the FBO but no mechanic on the field until Monday. The only one who was willing to come and check the airplane wanted $470, just to come to the airport ($120 per hour, 3.5 hour minimum plus $50 for the house call), and he didn't have an alternator or regulator in stock. I called Jim Andres and Rodney, who called Ben Dubois, one of our pilots and A&P in the area. After pondering their advice, I decided to spend the night in Youngstown.

This morning we got up at 5:00 AM and headed for the airport, charged the battery, took off at 8:00 AM and flew 3.3 hours to Westchester County Airport (HPN). Everything went well, used the handheld for all communications and used the airplane battery to run the transponder for 5 minutes while in the YNG Delta airspace. Flew the rest of the flight NORDO and did quite a bit of scud running but always VMC. Upon reaching the edge of the New York Bravo Airspace, fired up the battery, turn on one com and the transponder, called NY Approach and 5 minutes later was on final to Rwy 11 at HPN. Two hours earlier I had texted Dmitry and he met us at the airport. I unloaded the plane and my son Marcos, who was also awaiting at the airport, took the load of stuff home. Dmitry and I took off and flew in formation to FOK in Long Island to drop my plane at my mechanic's place. He took me back to HPN and then flew to Danbury. I'll find out tomorrow what's wrong with my plane, but I've already talked to Craig Chipley and got his advice on what alternator brand to buy, if I need one.

When I got home, there was a great meal of rice and beans, platanos and carnita ready for us. I just finished it, and it was only after that great meal that I got enough energy to write this post. Now I'm ready for a shower and bed.

I had a blast this past 10 days. Saw good friends again and met really nice people. Rodney, Craig and I are already conspiring for next year's event. We have agreed on a few things already. But you all will have to wait a few months to find out.

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Formation Flying From A Non-Pilot's Perspective



Bobbi Donley & Rod Reeves
Halethorpe, MD

Fri 30 Apr 2010

I recently attended the formation flying clinic at Wings Airport, April 24, 2010 with my significant other, Rod Reeves. As a non-pilot I wasn't too sure what to expect and then, would I even understand what is being taught? I encourage anyone that will be in the plane during the formation flying to attend the clinic. Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Gil Velez, our clinic instructor.

Hi, Gil -

It was great meeting you!

I am glad I went to the clinic with Rod. Even as a non-pilot, I was able to understand the morning portion of the clinic - positioning of the planes to eliminate prop wash, downwind, route formation, close formation, trail formation, etc. Where I got a little lost was on the briefing right before the actual flight portion of the clinic but I get a little lost when it comes to talk on the headings, and such anyways. I do understand the concept of it all though.

I did not think the length was too long as I was learning new things - I don't know how I would feel if I've done it before. But, it's always good to refresh if it's something that's not done all the time.

Rod Reeves & Bobbi Donley in Juneau I feel safer doing the formation flying now that I've attened the clinic and feel I can be another set of eyes for Rod. I can watch the instruments checking altitude, speed and even our position while he is watching the lead, or checking the chalk positions if we are the lead. Having attended the clinic it will help me when Rod asked me to watch or do a specific thing - I will know what he's talking about.

Craig Johnston was great as our safety pilot. Calm and when giving instructions he explained the why part of it - which Rod liked. It helped me too.

I was glad to be included in the debriefing. You all were encouraging and gave the pilots a positive attitude even knowing that improvement is needed! Rod and I had our own debriefing after we got back (which I recommend) and we've already watched the video a couple of times!

All-in-all, it gave me a greater appreciation and understanding of formation flying. It's not as easy as the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds make it out to be! We are glad we are going to be a part of it at Oshkosh.

My recommendation to anyone that is going to be a passenger in a plane that is doing the formation flying, attend the clinic. Sitting in the back seat observing having a hands on experience prior to the actual fly-in will make the formation fly-in that much safer and fun!

-Bobbi Donley-

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Oshkosh or Bust!



Robert & Sharon Baker
Coto de Caza, CA

Thu 07 Aug 2008

Greetings Friends and Flyers!

At John Wayne before loading her up. Click for a larger image.We declared “Oshkosh or BUST” and guess what - we made it all the way there and back home VFR [visual flight rules for you non-flyers] with relative ease [you didn’t expect less – did you?]. Below is a chart [map] with an approximation of our round trip route. We checked MOA [military operation areas] for active status and used flight following most of the time except for the times when we flew low [2-3000’ AGL (above the ground)] and vigilant. When we didn’t use the radio it was so nice to have it quiet – those ATC folks sure can talk...talk...talk...talk...]. The trip to Oshkosh took two flying days; but, due to our inability to get airborne weather [we were at 9,500’ over a pretty solid 7,000’ layer] so when we found a hole we put down early on the second day and actually finished up in two hours on the morning of the third day. This last leg was two hours at 600’ above the Wisconsin River under a 1,100’ layer with 10 miles visibilityJ - it was absolutely beautiful – unquestionably the prettiest part of the whole trip. [Note: I purchased a new GPS with airborne weather while at Oshkosh]

Our initial mission was to get to Juneau near Oshkosh and be trained to fly in formation for Saturday’s mass Cessna arrival with Cessnas 2 Oshkosh. We made it late for the final training, but the gracious Cessnas 2 Oshkosh leaders were able to provide us semi-private training, along with a few others who were weathered late, so we could fly the mass arrival with almost 40 other Cessnas. We are very grateful for their time and leadership. Here are the pictures of the terrific group of folks that we trained with, flew with, camped with, and partied with. The fellows, Rodney, Craig and Gil, who led this mission did a fantastic job with a huge emphasis on safety. We made some new friends for life.

Our round trip routeOur Oshkosh stay was in mixed locations, four nights in our tent and four nights at a B&B in nearby Appleton with two other most excellent CPA pilot couples – Bob and Carol and Ray and Penelope. This was a great mix of “roughing it” and comfort. My son Chris and his gal Katie flew commercial into Chicago and drove up and spend two wonderful days traipsing around the Oshkosh grounds and viewing the absolutely awesome aerial and static displays with them. Oshkosh is a whole story in itself; it is simply too much for words - check out the pictures! If you have any interest in airplanes or aviation, this is a must attend event at some point in your life. It is truly beyond words and that is not an exaggeration. Here is the official Oshkosh EAA site with photos.

After Oshkosh, we headed straight across a glassy smooth Lake Michigan [60 miles in about 29 minutes] and flew around an area, Saginaw, MI, that I had lived in for 13 years but had never viewed from the air. I quickly spotted the 1st apartment building I lived in as a married man and the first house I owned. We followed the Saginaw river out to the Saginaw Bay and flew along the shores of Lake Huron for a while, where I used to motor around in my cabin cruiser, before heading south over Frankenmuth where my dad had flown me years ago for a $100 chicken dinner. Then on towards Ypsilanti, MI transitioning over KYIP [Willow Run]. In what seemed like no time we landed at Larson Airpark where my dad had hangared N6353A for almost twenty years prior to my flying her, right seat as a student pilot, to California three years ago. She surely enjoyed landing on the short grass strip once again, although southerly winds had us head over some tall power lines which shortened the strip about 4-500’. With her STOL [short take off and landing] modification 6353A handled the task with ease with at least 200’ of runway to spare. Then Mom picked us up and we headed to the city of Belleville, Mi to the home I grew up in, about ten minutes from Larson.

Camping at Juneau. Click for a larger image.After two days at Mom’s including a funeral home visit to express our sympathy to a close family friend on Saturday, visits with high school friends Saturday evening, a family reunion on Sunday, and a Sunday evening veteran recognition event, followed by a group dinner [we were as busy as we were at Oshkosh] - we began our trip home on Monday. We had to head south from Larson Airpark [Belleville, MI] racing a huge multi state front with thunder storms coming from the north-west [pix will be on our site and they are amazing]. Once we had gassed up in Ohio and had the front beat, we headed south west across Illinois, Missouri and Kansas to our destination, Bartlesville, OK, where we tucked it in for the night early enough to enjoy a nice swim and a pleasant dinner. [Note: this was our first big trip in our little plane and it was amazing how much ground we could cover while enjoying so many sights at the same time]. On Tuesday we covered close to 1300 miles dodging more thunderstorms across New Mexico and Arizona. It is surprisingly easy to fly around the rain / thunder clouds - staying far enough away to be safe. We gassed up in Laughlin, NV [actually Bullhead, AZ] with lightening in the rain clouds surrounding the valley. Getting out of the valley was the only slightly hairy part of the trip and that lasted only about 15 minutes out of over 36 hours of actual flying time [a little scary for Sharon, but I was very careful - as always]. We finished up with a magnificent sunset arrival at John Wayne. We got a straight in approach from Lake Irvine and we had an awesome smooth touch down just past the numbers and were off at Juliet [1st exit]. We then taxied her to her home, unloaded and tied her down. We thanked her for her good service and said goodbye unti l our next flight this Sunday.

Pilot in Command. Click for a larger image.I’ve now landed as PIC [pilot in command] in 14 of our beautiful lower 48. Only 34 more to go and then Alaska and a rental in Hawaii to get my 50. Can’t wait to go againJ. Here is a link to our site. [Facebook photo links are also on this site]. Bookmark it [Ctrl D] and check it from time to time for future adventure pictures and stories.

All I can say is WOW – what a beautiful country we live in – if you have the chance, flying by small aircraft is definitely the way to travel – try it if you can!!! We give all thanks to our awesome Creator for enabling us to make this fantastic trip,

-Robert Baker and my outstanding partner and co-pilot Sharon Baker-

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The Andres Family



James Andres
Delaware, Ohio

Wed 15 Apr 2008

Jim Andres landing his Stationair on Rwy. 28 at Port Huron during formation training in 2006.Cessnas 2 Oshkosh 2008 is shaping up to be my 5th year flying into Oshkosh and camping with my airplane. For my family it’ll be the third Cessna mass arrival. During my visits in 2003 and 2005 I flew the standard arrival procedure as outlined in the AirVenture NOTAM put out by the FAA. 2003 was a cake walk as I had expected and a great first experience.

2005 on the other hand had me entering the area at the time they released everyone from the hold. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable experience. I was now flying with a group of planes in an impromptu arrival. There were many airplanes of different make and model flown by pilots of different skill level all jumping in line “following the train tracks.” Some were trying to pass by my side and one over the top. We had no idea who was seeing who and which direction was the safe way out of the mess.

And then there was the parking. We were parked in the farthest spot possible, adjacent to the perimeter road near the northwest gate by Hardees. It was great for a quick walk to the store but bad for sleeping. Walks to the showers were long and the walk to the event grounds was even longer.

Jim and Dakota Andres listening to Dan Unger during formation training in 2006 at Port Huron.When the 2006 Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrival was organized, I jumped at the chance to do the arrival with a group of like-minded individuals for a couple of reasons. First, the training to be provided would put us all at the same level. Each pilot would know what to expect and what was expected to have a safe arrival. We would be matching performance with positions to add safety. Second, everyone would enjoy being part of a great group that shared many of the same desires. This was exactly what it turned out to be. Parking was great and many tips and tricks were shared.

My son Dakota, only 11 years old at the time and I enjoyed the training experience together. He assisted me taking on tasks which were important but would have distracted me from my primary task of flying the plane in its proper position. It has been a good bonding experience for us beyond the formation flight. I welcome his eyes in the right seat anytime and look forward to our times together.

My wife has yet to experience Oshkosh. She has listened to us talk about it for years, along with looking at pictures, lots of pictures! With a young daughter, she chose to stay at home versus trying to entertain and camp with a toddler. This was probably a smart move. 2008 is the year. My wife and daughter will be with us this year and I couldn’t be happier to share the experience with them.

Jim and Dakota Andres enjoying dinner in Cessna Base Camp during Cessnas 2 Oshkosh 2006Some have spoken about their concerns for the safety of this mass arrival. I can say that I would never put my family in a situation that I felt was unsafe. When I fly them into Oshkosh this year I know they’ll be arriving in the safest way possible because of the training the pilots around me and I would have received leading up to the arrival. We will be joining old friends which I have had the pleasure of associating with for the past 3 years. We will be camping in Cessna Base Camp which puts us very close to the showers. My family will see this as more than a guys outing and hopefully as a family outing which is heavy on aviation and having a good social ti me.

-Jim-

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Celebrating the 50th Anniversary!



Chip Davis, EAA Chapter 1114
Apex, North Carolina

Sun 10 Feb 2008

Aviators and friends hanging out at Cessna Base Camp.Are you flying a Cessna to AirVenture this year? Want a primo tiedown/campsite in the North 40 reserved for you? Interested in participating in one of the largest formation arrivals? Think hanging around with a bunch of like-minded aviators and enjoying the largesse of the Cessna Aircraft Company and the Cessna Pilots Association sounds like fun? (It is!)

In 2006, Alison and I participated in the inaugural Cessnas 2 Oshkosh mass arrival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cessna 172/182 model line. The goal was to have fifty 172 and 182 arrive in formation but there was so much interest from other Cessna pilots that the limit was extended to 75 aircraft and participation was opened to all Cessna models. We had examples of nearly every reciprocating single-engine Cessna and a couple of twins as well. Our 75 aircraft was more than the Mooneys (42) but less than the Bonanzas (82), but they've been doing it for nearly twenty years.

Alpha element of the 2006 Mass Arrival on its way to Oshkosh.It was a blast and less nerve wracking that the normal Ripon arrival on that Saturday before the show. We had our formation arrival window all to ourselves and landed all 75 aircraft in 11 minutes with no problem. Given the wide variation in performance represented, that was no small accomplishment.

EAA reserved a block of 500 Cessna tiedown/campsites in the North 40 between the warbirds and the showers. Cessna Aircraft sponsored activities and C2O gave away lots of swag. We chose to camp with the other Vintage volunteers as usual but every time we visited the Cessna Compound for an event it was clear that everyone was enjoying the all-Cessna environment.

Participation in the mass-arrival is contingent upon demonstrating a basic understanding of and minimal proficiency in formation flight. The C2O Director of Training is Rodney Swanson, a corporate pilot based at Southern Pines. He Rodney conducting the brief in Juneau prior to the mass arrival into Oshkosh.developed a training program which was used to bring all the pilots up to speed on the basics necessary for a safe arrival. We're not talking a tight formation here, but everyone needs to be familiar with certain procedures that are necessary for a safe flight. Following the classroom material, for mation airwork practice gives real-world experience with sightlines, station-keeping, and crossing maneuvers. (That's the fun part!)

Several formation flight clinics are scheduled around the country with a final opportunity at the mustering airport Dodge County in Juneau, WI the day before departure. The first clinic will be at Southern Pines (KSOP) next Saturday.

If you are interested in participating in this event, check out the website: www.cessnas2oshkosh.com, or contact Rodney Swanson at Rodney@cessnas2oshkosh.com for all the details. The website has a link to the flyer if you would be willing to print more and post them at other airports.

-Chip-

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