Alternate.

So I had planned a cross-country flight from Waukegan, Illinois to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for yesterday. Earl and I were to fly in the DA-40 to Oshkosh, grab a crew car from the FBO (Fixed Base Operator), have some lunch and visit my Dad’s name on the EAA Memorial Wall. I try to visit once a year and it’s always occurred during EAA’s AirVenture (the world’s largest aviation gathering). This was my first time to Oshkosh outside of AirVenture.

In the days leading up to the flight I had been monitoring the weather. I had planned to fly up at 6500′ and fly back at 7500′, passing outside of Milwaukee’s airspace. I knew the weather was not going to be crystal clear but I was hopeful that we could make our way up and back without having to go too far out of our way to avoid rain. As a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilot, I must stay clear of clouds and that’s usually easy to do.

The weather at Waukegan would have made for a beautiful departure, but the forecast indicated that coming home would have been tricky. Thunderstorms were predicted to pop up, but the placement and timing was an uncertainty. I was ready to go; we were even at the airplane with the canopy open and I was starting to get my electronics and like in place, but something in my gut told me not to go.

I always trust my gut.

We ended up driving to Oshkosh instead. It was beautiful the entire time we were up there. Looking back at our home airport, however, showed rain storms and impressive gusts blowing through the area. Getting home would have been a tricky deal and would have involved threading around storms, possibly landing at alternate airports and subsequently waiting for storms to pass.

If I owned my own airplane without obligations to be back at a certain time, I might have considered it. But in a rental in a time slot? I didn’t need the extra pressure.

It was a wonderful day to drive.

Earl and I drove straight to the airport and visited the Memorial Wall. Seeing Oshkosh in its non-AirVenture state just connected me more to the experience of aviation. One of the closest times I ever spent with my father was when he invited me to join my grandfather and him to Oshkosh for my 16th birthday back in 1984.

Oshkosh will always hold a special place in my heart.

Earl and I are already booked for our trip to EAA AirVenture next July and I’m looking forward to the experience. I’m hoping to have my instrument certificate by then. In the meanwhile, I’m happy with the decision I made yesterday.

I look forward to becoming a very old aviator.

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