Journey to Oshkosh Day One
Day one started out sunny and cool, a great Southern California morning. High clouds, light breeze and my heart pounding about the upcoming journey. It was just last night at 8:30pm that I took delivery of Estelle with her new paint job and several repaired maintenance items. I have flown Estelle before but it was over two months ago and I am loading her up for a big trip. I get to the airplane early and perform a very thorough preflight, I add a gallon of oil, check the fuel, set the tire pressure and make sure everything looks in place. Before Ken gets to the airport I want to take her on a short flight to get the feel again and at least have one landing before we load her full of stuff. I start up Estelle and taxi out to the run-up to check all of her systems. Everything works as it should and I ask for clearance for departure. Van Nuys Tower clears me for departure and I am rolling out onto the runway. I add power and Estelle comes to life, it is exactly as I remember her and soon we are airborne. After a minute of flying Van Nuys tower comes over the radio and asks me what my altitude is, I reply 900 feet and they advise me that my transponder is reporting the wrong altitude. This is not good, in busy airspace like this, I need a working transponder. I decide to cut the flight short and just come around to land. I am cleared to land and Estelle rolls onto the runway as smooth as can be. I am happy and feeling much better about the flight ahead, but first I need to get this transponder fixed.
As luck would have it, I am able to get in touch with Mike’s Avionics at Van Nuys. Mike picks up the phone and I tell him my predicament and that I was planning on leaving this morning. He tells me he will be there in five minutes to take a look at my issue. As promised he pulls up exactly five minutes later and is working on the encoder, in ten minutes he is finished and I am ecstatic he was able to fix it so quickly.
It is almost time to depart, I clean the windshield, fill the fuel tanks and load all of the stuff Ken and I need for two weeks away from home. Estelle is now full and then Ken shows up to install the cameras.
By 11am all is loaded and we are ready to depart. After making an embarrassing mistake of trying to start the airplane (3 times) with the fuel selector in the “OFF” position, I selected “On” and we were on our way. Estelle felt heavy on the runway and a little sluggish in the climb but we made it to our cruising altitude of 7500 feet. Our route for this first leg was Van Nuys, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Blithe, Gila Bend then landing at Tucson Arizona.
We arrived in Tucson 3.25 hours after liftoff and were greeted by our friend Ash Vij at Millionaire Tucson.
It is great to be back in the air, our plan for Day 2 is to fly to Roswell New Mexico and search for aliens, we will see how it goes.