Kili flew to Oshkosh for the annual EAA Air Venture, the world's greatest aviation event. I have been flying for over 9 years but have not yet had the pleasure of going to Oshkosh. Before owning my own plane, I never felt right going in a rental. Since acquiring my plane, for a few years I felt too novice to be able to undertake the arrival procedure into the world's busiest airport (during the event). But, with greater experience and my trusty copilot, I decided that it was time to make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh.
I brought Kili, my 6 year old Senegal Parrot, along for the ride. It was out of the question to take all of my birds but I definitely wanted to bring one. Kili is both my smallest and most trusted so I knew she'd be the right one to take for the journey. On the other hand, Truman and Santina each got a room to themselves while we were gone. On our way there, we battled fierce headwinds and took close to 6 hours to get there.
I expected all hell to break loose on the busy FISK arrival. It was busy but surprisingly manageable. Not nearly as bad as New York Approach on a Friday night. In fact, the air traffic controllers at Oshkosh were extremely courteous and understanding. These controllers realize that they are dealing with amateur pilots of varying levels of experience. Someone previously mentioned to me that they thought the Oshkosh arrival isn't as hectic as flying the Hudson river and I think they were right.
Kili was a big help. She just hung on without causing any trouble or distraction. I think she too enjoys flying! We landed in Oshkosh and after what seemed like an eternity taxiing all over the airport, we arrived at our camp site. We set up camp next to the plane and headed over to the main fairgrounds for the best part. Air Venture is like Disney World for aviators! It was incredible! Airplanes come from all over the United States and the world for this event. Around 15,000 aircraft and a quarter million people participate.
Since I own and fly a Mooney airplane, it was exciting to see Mooney back from bankruptcy at the event. They demonstrated the first Mooney Acclaim off the production line in 5 years and held a press conference. Kili whispered in my ear to ask the CEO about what safety and style improvements they had made to the airplane since changing the company motto from Speed Speed Speed to Safety Speed and Style. I don't think Kili was impressed with Jerry Chen's roundabout answer that the plane has always had those elements and that they were simply beginning to emphasize them better. Nonetheless, the Mooney acclaim is still to this day the world's fastest four seat single engine production airplane.
For 3 days we watched air shows, visited vendor displays, and met loads of pilots. Funny how it's a small world, we bumped into many people we know. Also many people I don't but know me were able to recognize me with Kili. It was a splendid trip and Kili enjoyed all the attention and travel as well. Here are some photos and video from our 2014 Oshkosh Air Venture adventure.
This was a really fun and exciting weekend. The parrots came on a flying and camping trip to Maine. We set out not too early. Shortly after takeoff, air traffic control had me fly right over the Empire State Building and cross La Guardia airport. I let the birds out and they would go from sitting on me to atop Truman's travel cage. This was the first time I have ever taken them flying together in my airplane. Prior to this it was just one at a time and on occasion. But lately I have been testing things out and making preparations for our cross country flight to Arizona in June to present our live seminar.
Cartoon depiction of Kili & Truman on their camping outing
Kili copiloting the airplane
Truman giving flying advice from my shoulder
Kili & Truman perch atop Truman's travel cage while he tries to put a shoe on
We climbed to 13,500 feet to practice high elevation flying in preparation for our upcoming trip to Arizona to present a seminar. The birds got sleepy and dozed off. Kili was out like a log in her carrier in the full turned around sleeping position. Truman took longer to fall asleep but fell into a light slumber as well. However, the birds held up just fine and I'm no longer worried about flying over the rockies with them without supplemental oxygen. My airplane isn't pressurized, so although flying lower than jetliners, the actual cabin pressure is far lower.
Truman falls asleep in his travel cage because of the low pressure but shows no discomfort
After two and a half hours flight, we arrived in Belfast, Maine. We took a quick fly over the town and landed at the municipal airport. I harnessed up the parrots in the airplane and then we walked to town. It was only a few miles each way so not a big deal. Fresh air, sun, and entertainment for the birds. Kili & Truman took turns riding my hand or shoulder.
We went to a seafood place by the water and enjoyed some Maine lobster and seafood. Although pets aren't allowed into the restaurant, Kili and Truman earned special permission for their cuteness. We took a table at the furthest end to avoid disturbing anyone. The parrots sat on a nearby fence and earned scraps of french fries and veggies from the masters' table.
Airport and town of Belfast Maine
After a tasty seafood meal, we go to check out the marina in Belfast Maine
Kili and Truman find the airplane's propeller an ideal place to perch and drop a poo before the next flight
We walked back to the airport and climbed in the plane for a very short flight over to the island of Islesboro. The airport there was quite short and desolated. One other airplane was parked there but otherwise it did not appear as though anyone had been through there in weeks. I parked the plane near a grassy patch and then proceeded to unload. I put the parrots out in their carriers to watch the tent set up process. They were just in awe how all that tent fit in such a small bag. After everything was set up, we took a walk and watched the sun set.
Upon return to the camping area, we broke out the cooler and sat down for a picnic dinner. I brought a parrot training perch for the birds to share when they were out. The two of them jealously watched the picnic set up but were treated to some bread and parrot food. It was getting dark so I put the birds into their travel cages and wrapped them with their sheet so they could have their own tent within the tent to stay warm at night. I specifically opted to cover them with one big sheet rather than separate ones so they could share their trapped heat under it.
The parrots were awakened by the calls of wild birds that they had never heard before. So they joined in with their own chatter, shrieks, and whistles. I took the parrots outside wearing their harnesses and practiced some flight recalls with them for treats. They did some but were mostly busy looking around so I didn't push it much. I let them climb around in the tree near our tent and they were thrilled. It was a lot bigger than their tree at home!
Parrots go camping in a tent by the airplane in Islesboro Maine
Kili and Truman decorate the airport sign by doing their own run up
The parrots enjoy some morning sunshine in the tent atop Truman's travel cage
Kili and Truman had a thrill climbing around a tree by the tent
We packed up the tent and loaded the plane. Before long we were airborne and enroute to Hyannis in Cape Cod Massachussets. We flew right over top Boston Logan Airport enroute and Kili got a bird's eye view of Boston.
We arrived in an hour and a half, parked the plane, and headed into town for lunch. After a pleasant walk, we found my favorite raw bar called The Raw Bar. This place is home of the biggest Lobster Roll I have ever seen. For $25 you get a Lobster Roll the size of a Cape Parrot. It's gotta have at least 3-4 lobsters worth of meat piled on it. It is virtually impossible to eat this much lobster by yourself so it's good to have someone to share it with.
I set the parrots on the chair next to me and fed them oysters. Actually they were just the cracker kind, oyster crackers. But the parrots were in paradise. They love the crunchy chewy goodness of these little baked delights and were begging for more. I gave them a chance to taste some lobster but they opted to stick to the french fries and crackers instead.
Kili gets a "bird's eye view" of Boston as we fly over Boston Logan Airport
Parrots checking out the giant Lobster Roll. And yes, it's all real lobster, no substitute!
Kili and Truman prefer fake seafood like Oyster Crackers instead
After a delightful, and somewhat overfilling, seafood lunch, we strolled around Hyannis. From all directions Kili & Truman received praise from shocked onlookers. We returned to the airport and completed the flight back to New York in record time. With a steady tailwind, I was able to bring the power back to fly at 185mph on a mere 14 gallons of gas in an hour and fifteen minutes. Coming back to New York from the northeast, we turned south and flew down the Hudson to get back home.
Map portraying our trip. Red, green, yellow, then blue. NY - Belfast - Islesboro - Hyannis - NY
Senegal Parrot flying over New York City
The trip proved a huge success and we had a lot of fun. It was a new experience for the parrots but far from overwhelming. By camping, walking, and using personal transportation we were able to avoid all issues surrounding travel with pets. We ate outside and cleaned up our own mess. Thus we were able to make the entire trip with the birds without any question of whether they'd be allowed or not. This broke up the parrots' typical routine and also got them involved in something I would normally leave them at home to do. It's a win/win for everyone. Now check out the video footage from the parrots' camping trip to Maine.