Flight To Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 2011

Arty's Talon - Click on photo to view larger version
Click here to read my blog

Up, Up and Away — To Oshkosh!

I have three passions in my life: my family, flying my ultralight*, and challenging people to "live out loud" ...to experience life as a compelling, irresistible adventure.

After I rafted the Class V rapids of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, friends said, "Oh, now you'll never want to go back to rafting in Oregon again; the rivers will be much too tame for you." After I flew my Maxair Drifter ultralight* round trip from Sandy, Oregon to Lakeland, Florida in 2009, people asked me "What will you do to top that flight? Everything from now on will seem like such an anticlimax." How wrong they are! You never forget "the big ones" but every time I taxi to the runway, then feel the engine revving up as I push the throttle forward for take off, the anticipation is electric.

On Tuesday, July 19, I and the pilots of 3 other ultralight-type aircraft will leave Sandy, Oregon for what promises to be an exhilarating and challenging flight. In spite of years of ultra-long distance ultralight* flying, my stomach knots up as I get ready to fly to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the site of EAA AirVenture, the largest airshow in the world.

Our eastward route will take us up the Columbia River Gorge, along the Snake River through Idaho, across mountainous Wyoming and over the Rockies. Weather permitting we'll take a side trip to Devil's Tower and then head across the Badlands and open plains of South Dakota before we reach the hills, forests and farmlands of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

As with my mega-flight to Florida in 2009, I'm again using this flight as a platform for my message of thinking boldly and living life with passion. I KNOW that we all can achieve our dreams, even if others tell us it's impossible. As a 67 year old woman, I've been told throughout my life that certain goals weren't possible for me, due to my gender—and later, due to my age. I've listened, and continued on with my plans. With determination, perseverance, and preparation, I know we can spread our wings and fly higher and further than we ever thought possible.

I'm passionate about sharing this message, especially with girls and women. I'll again be using this flight to promote Girls With Wings, an organization using women in aviation to encourage girls to reach their full potential. I'll bring "Penelope Pilot" along on the flight. The Penelope Pilot Projecttm seeks to increase girls' participation in aviation events and activities, as well as encourage girls to test their wings in other ways.

For those of you who aren't familiar with ultralight-type aircraft, my 1997 Talon Typhoon ('grandson' of my beloved Maxair Drifter) is sometimes referred to as an irrigation pipe with aluminum tubing and fabric wings and an engine. It weighs 450 lbs. empty, and is powered by a Rotax 582 two-cycle engine. I can be in the air for about 2.5 hours before I need to land and refuel. How many miles I can cover in that amount of time is completely dependent on the weather. I cruise between 60 and 75 miles per hour – if there's no wind. With a strong headwind my speed can drop as low as 35 mph!

You can follow the flight online via my blog on this website. I'll include pictures and details of the flight. You'll meet the other three pilots who will be flying with me. And don't forget to check the link to my SPOT Tracker, allowing you to see in real time exactly where we are at any given point.

I hope you'll enjoy this new blog. Be sure to add your comments and questions: I'll try and respond to everyone who writes. So wish us clear skies and tailwinds in both directions!

*Technically, my Talon is an ultralight-type registered Experimental Light Sport Aircraft.