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Trike Odyssey to AirVenture 2010

By Marsha and Wes Frey

Wes and Marsha Frey
Wes and Marsha Frey. Photo by Dave Wallis.

Larry Mednick and Abid Farooqui, owners of TampaBay Aerosport and Evolution Trikes in Zephyrhills, Florida, offered the opportunity for six people, to join them as a team in attending Trikefest in Illinois and assist with their vendor space at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. In addition to Larry and Abid, the group included Sean Scott, accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Clayton, who was his copilot and cameraman; Dan and Amy Saunders; and my husband, Wes, and me. Sean provided ground support in the form of a large RV and 24-foot cargo trailer that held all of our baggage and supplies. With this ground support in place, so began the great trike odyssey to AirVenture 2010.

Wes and I took flying lessons at TampaBay Aerosport several years ago with the main purpose of flying cross-country adventures. We began with short trips, and as our pilot and navigational skills developed, we branched out to airports that served breakfasts and lunches. There are several pilots in our hangar who share these common interests. We like to choose a flying site to visit, a sightseeing tour down the Gulf Coast, or an airport for lunch. Wes once remarked to his sport pilot examiner that he enjoys flying so much because of the pleasure of meeting and sharing the experience with other people.

Zephyrhills team
Zephyrhills team: (left to right) Abid Farooqui, Marsha Frey, Larry Mednick, Dan Saunders, Amy Saunders, and Sean Scott

On the morning of July 20, 2010, we began our long journey with three trikes flying out of the Zephyrhills airport followed by the ground crew. Several members of the team alternated driving the motor home and flying in the trikes, except Wes and me who flew the complete 2,400-mile roundtrip. When possible, we met the ground crew for lunch and supper at a predetermined airport along a route that Shawn diligently programmed for us. It took about two-and-a-half days to get to Oshkosh and the same to return to Florida, not counting layovers we had to take because of weather. We were able to make the best time from Kentland, Indiana, to Zephyrhills, Florida, on the return flight in two days, which was about 920 miles.

All along the route, we met with friendly staff at each airport. They provided hangars to keep the trikes out of the rain and assisted in refueling, and most of the airports provided courtesy vans for us to visit the local restaurants for meals. We all enjoyed the friendly banter and camaraderie at these rendezvous. It was surprising how the trikes and ground crew were able to arrive at our meeting points within a short time of each other. We also met each evening and rested overnight in the RV in order to get an early flight out the next morning.

On our trip out and the return flight home, we met trike-flying friends in different states that graciously offered their homes and hospitality to us. Our first night, we stopped at Calhoun County Airport. Chuck Goodrum met and escorted us to the LongHorn Steakhouse for dinner. He supplied two hangars for our three trikes for the night and took us to his home for hot showers. We’re indebted to him for his thoughtfulness and hope to return the favor if he visits us in Florida.

Our second overnight stop was Glasgow Municipal Airport in Kentucky. We met Gary Beardeu, who drove us to dinner, provided us with an overnight hangar for our trikes, and took us to a store for some items we needed. He also offered us a tour of his underground cave attraction. Although we didn’t get to take him up on the offer because of time constraints, it’s something that we don’t want to pass up if we’re in his area again.

Rainbow
Double rainbow seen over Glasgow, Kentucky

The breathtaking views looking down on the mountains were spectacular, but by far the most memorable sight was the climb to get above the clouds north of Glasgow, Kentucky. Wes and I just broke over a large cloud when our trike was in the middle of a 360-degree double rainbow. We shared the experience minutes after Larry and Amy viewed the same sight.

At each stop, we took advantage of an airport’s computer to check the weather on the next leg of our trip. We also used our iPhones and Sean’s iPad for weather conditions between course runs, during meals, or anytime we had to decide whether and when to fly.

Our Enigma glass panels were invaluable for GPS navigation and maneuvering around airspace, as well as for finding alternate airports. We had to use it once to divert to Lafayette Airport in Indiana so we could avoid the heavy rain over Kentland. The trikes drew a lot of attention from the staff at Lafayette after we landed. They offered their courtesy car and directions to town for lunch. After paying for our fuel and our only hangar fee, we taxied past the Lafayette control tower to see the staff all waving us a goodbye.

After we arrived in Kentland, our good friend Curt Shoaf obtained permission for us to keep our trikes in a hangar. Curt and his wife Dee let us park the RV at their home in Watseka, Illinois. He extended his hospitality for two evenings while we waited for bad weather over Trikefest airport Cushing Field to pass, as it was only an hour flight away. One of the high points of the trip was Dee’s apple pie, made from homegrown apples, and blackberry pie, made from berries picked nearby. Curt introduced us to aviation and trike flying six years ago. We’ve been very grateful, enjoying flying and the opportunities to meet new friends ever since.
 
When we flew out of Kentland Airport, heading to Cushing Field, we saw an Air Creation trike flown by an Iranian-American named Masoud. He was solo flying from Jacksonville, Florida, to our same destinations. We found out later that he landed at Kentland in a strong crosswind. Curt helped him get some fuel so he could resume his trip. We met up with him several more times, and he gave us some good tips on his favorite airport stops. Masoud said that he likes the freedom to adjust his trips as he goes and not overplan too far in advance. I applaud him for his fortitude, but our group was in our comfort zone with advanced planning.

At Cushing we enjoyed good food, showers, camping (RV style), friendly competition, and the joy of giving rides to locals and fellow trikers. It was nice being able to compare the different trikes and wings with what we flew. Also, we were privileged to witness Larry set a record in the Three Circles Competition at Trikefest. We were very proud of him and his unique flying skills; after all, he did represent the United States in the World Air Games 2009 in Italy! If interested, you may view a video of his Three Circles Competition flight here.

Oshkosh landing
Final approach to the ultralight runway at AirVenture

Flying into Cushing Field was exciting and wonderful, but flying into Oshkosh was nothing short of amazing! We followed Sean and were followed by Abid. We entered the 300-foot pattern five miles out and tracked roads to the beginning of the ultralight field. The view over all the campgrounds and parked planes was immense. The up-close view of hot-air balloons was spectacular. Seeing the control tower but not the grass strip where we were to land was a bit unnerving until Sean turned to line up with the runway, with us and Abid following. Then the realization of “we are finally here” began to sink in. The one word to describe the experience is “amazing.”

Ultralight crowd
We had a large audience during flying times.

Wes had the opportunity to fly the irregular 300-feet-above-ground-level ultralight pattern five times. Two of these times, he was about 200 feet directly under the Goodyear Blimp. He remarked that this was one of the sights that fascinated him while flying in the pattern. On Saturday afternoon, Amy was asked if we were going to attend the ultralight banquet that evening. We soon learned that Larry was going to receive an award – you better believe we were going to attend. It was all we could do to keep the evening’s surprise from him. When the award ceremony began, Larry was called to the podium. After a lengthy prelude, he was awarded the EAA Oshkosh Air Operations Showmanship Award. Larry was only the second light-sport trike pilot to receive this honor.

TampaBay Aerosport display booth
TampaBay Aerosport display booth

Wes and I sold our Apollo Delta Jet trike at Oshkosh to Ed Neff and his wife, Betty Ann. They were so kind to loan us their truck for fuel, food, and laundry runs on several occasions. The Neffs were just two of the many warm and friendly people we met at AirVenture that helped make it such a wonderful trip. Another vendor, Mary, made us warm cinnamon rolls for breakfast. You can see why it’s said that pilots are such a great bunch of people.

Wes and I shared our 41st wedding anniversary at AirVenture. We completed our order for a new Evolution Revo trike to celebrate, thanks to the sale of our Apollo trike. We were also celebrating because Wes passed his certificated flight instructor practical test just prior to leaving on our cross country. Sean asked Wes and me to fly his trike back since he and Clayton had to fly home on a commercial flight to take care of a speaking engagement. We were more than glad to do so.

On the trip back to Florida, Larry and Abid treated our team to a visit to the manufacturing plant in Middleville, Michigan, where the Revo trikes are being produced. We also picked up Larry’s newly completed Revo and filled the rest of the trailer with parts needed in Zephyrhills. Later they took us to their favorite Mexican restaurant. It was their way of saying thank you for helping them at Oshkosh and Cushing.

We followed the same route back home to Florida. For most of the trip, we had good landing spots in case of an engine out. Even in the mountains, we flew over farms and pastures that would have made suitable landing spots in case of an emergency. Following safety rules and always having a landing place in sight had been stressed to us during our training. Using these precautions gave us more confidence and a greater sense of well-being during our cross-country tour. What an amazing journey we had. It was a trike odyssey to be remembered.

Abid Farooqui of TampaBay Aerosport posted his recollections of this trip on the TrikepilotSocial website here. Also check out Wes Frey’s YouTube channel for some great trike videos.

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