Does it get better than this?
One of the many things I will never be able to adequately thank my wife for is the fact that she was born, raised, and educated in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. From our first date to the present it has saved me untold hours of explaining. As a highschooler my wife sold soda and hot dogs at the airshow to overexcited middle aged guys carrying around bags full of airplane brochures. Later in life she married one.
This guy was parked right across from us.
The 2005 Viking. What a honey.
One of the things I really wanted to see was the 2005 Viking. Its the first one the factory made under the new management. Like alot of Viking owners I have high hopes for the new guys running the show in Alexandria, MN. I was not disappointed. I had a chance to talk with the new owners and was impressed with their business sense and commitment. I never thought much of the "'75 paint scheme," but it looks great on this plane.
The interior on the 2005 is white leather. Very, very nice. Apparently made several years ago by a shop in Florida.
The new gear fairing.
One of the other things I wanted to see was the new style gear doors. They're supposed to be much sturdier and result in a small speed increase. I was sad to learn they are not retrofittable to my plane.
The 2005 Viking instrument panel. Damn, I wouldn't mind that.
The most interesting event of the trip occurred while getting there. The backstory is that when I was a small child my father, a very accomplished pilot, once told me, "Son, you have to be a real dipshit to run out of gas in an airplane." I took this to heart. I rarely have less than half fuel in my plane and have happily tankered around hundreds of pounds of fuel wherever I went because, well, who wants to be a dipshit?
On my way to Oshkosh I stopped in Columbus, Ohio to pick up Airman Fishel, an instrument rated pilot and world famous scientist, who had never attended the airshow. We were both pretty excited-- and why not?-- a couple of middle aged guys turned loose by their spouses, with a hot airplane and pockets full of credit cards. What could be better than that?
We filed the preferred IFR route to OSH which took us through southern Illinois around Chicago. We were racing along westward, fat dumb and happy at 6000 feet on fuel provided by the 15 gallon aux tank which we switched to after running exactly 15 gallons out of the left tank. Somewhere around the Joliett VOR we were turned to the the North and given a new approach frequency. It was immediately evident things up ahead were no so great. We could hear folks asking for diversions around weather, and discussions of a large cell moving from West to East across our intended route. Eager to demonstrate our instrument flying savvy Airman Fishel and I sprung into action. We called Flight Watch to get information on the storm and evaluate possible alternate routes, we got out the map and opened it up all the way across the panel looking at our options for a diversion to the East, we got out the Facilities Directory to see where might be a good place to go. We put the stormscope on the Argus display to see the strikes overlaid on our course line. Yessir, we were real textbook instrument pilots.
And then the engine quit.
Airman Fishel looked like Bart Simpson-- his eyes bulged and his hair stood up. I can only imagine the look on my face. I recall it like a scene from the movie The Matrix; the chart flew up in slow motion, my pen hung suspended in the air while I grabbed for the fuel selector-- I was like Keanu Reeves dodging stationary bullets as my right thumb went for the fuel pump switch. It was all over in three seconds when the engine surged back to life. I can only blame myself. I got so interested in the weather problem that I stopped scanning the instruments and covered the fuel totalizer with the map and ran the tank dry. I had planned to run 15 gallons out of the aux tank and then switch over to the right. The Bellanca handbook says there are only 15 gallons of usable fuel in the aux tank, I now know it contains exactly 16.1. I don't think I'll do that again.