The flight planning process is probably one you’ve already started. Maybe you always fly the same route and hit the same well-beloved spots every trip. Maybe this is your first pilgrimage, and you’re looking for help. Or maybe you just want to mix things up and add to your route this year. Here are a few of our members’ and editors’ favorite stops along the way to OSH—and we have stops no matter what corner of the country you’re coming from.
Contributions have been edited for length and style.
We have flown our 1960 C172A to Oshkosh nearly every year since 1987. Originally, we departed from the (now gone) Hoby Wolf grass strip (2MD5) in Eldersburg, Maryland, but from the Raleigh, North Carolina, area since 1996. Our change in latitude made the Maryland-Wisconsin route sub-optimal, and I discovered that fuel prices were consistently lower in the more-southern states.
“Our route for the past 25 years has been to refuel at Cynthiana-Harrison County Airport (0I8). It’s a small, quiet, rural airport with the best facilities, friendliest folks, and by far the lowest self-serve fuel prices in the region. The modern FBO offers showers, stocked kitchenette, and a pilot lounge comfy enough to sleep in (as has been necessary). They have a very active EAA chapter with many programs, but probably the best endorsement for the airport is that it reflects the generous personality of its manager, Bobby Craft. We never have enough time to visit with him as we would like. The town of Cynthiana offers excellent country cooking dining if you have the time.”
Apex, North Carolina
“Baker Municipal Airport (BHK)—Baker, Montana. This oil town is remote and desolate—even by Montana standards. But the father and son team of Roger and Darin Meggars of Baker Air Service (bakerairservice.com) are friendly and hospitable, fuel prices are reasonable, and they let visitors pet their dog—a horse-size mastiff who likes belly rubs. The Meggars are exceptional aircraft restorers (they won a Gold Lindy for rebuilding the original, serial number 1, Piper Super Cub) as well as pilots, and it’s always interesting to see what they’re working on in the hangar.
Deming City Airport (DMN)—Deming, New Mexico: Good fuel stop, and a refuge from the desert winds and afternoon turbulence that rock airplanes flying over the desert. Runways are well aligned with the prevailing valley winds, and a courtesy car is often available.
Key Field (MEI) in Meridian, Mississippi, has free soft-serve ice cream cones, hot dogs, and low fuel prices—U.S. Navy training jets keep things lively with screaming overhead approaches.
OKS—There’s also an Oshkosh, Nebraska, and I’ve seen pilots stop there as a joke on the way to AirVenture. (I’ve never been, but thought it was funny.)”
“Merrill Municipal Airport (RRL) in Merrill, Wisconsin, is a friendly grassroots airport perfectly located 88 nm (101 statute miles) northwest or so from OSH for a last stop arriving or departing OSH en route home.
Call ahead to RRL for your special needs (715-536-2024). We’re here and ready to accommodate you in any way we can.”
Rich McCullough, owner and airport manager
Park City Aviation, LLC
“I have attended the fly-in 14 times starting in 1972. I am based in San Jose at the infamous Reid-Hillview (RHV). My usual lunch stop is either Ogden (OGD) for a quick lunch or Brigham City (BMC) for a delightful throwback to the 1950s lunch at the Peach City Cafe (thepeachcity.com). They offer a courtesy car and are wonderful people. Overnight is Yankton, South Dakota (YKN). Great airport, great people, and free food (hot dogs, chili, cake, ice cream, cookies) and discount gas. I cannot recommend it enough.”
John E. Keenan
San Jose, California
“Coming from the East, most years the annual AirVenture pilgrimage has me looking for the cheapest fuel in south central Michigan before a quick trip across Lake Michigan in my Bonanza, always wanting to arrive at the big show with plenty of go-juice in case holding is necessary.
Some consider the trip across the lake risky, but the only time I didn’t cross the lake was when trouble sought me out.
“Oshkosh 2000 was my first year flying my then new-to-me 1972 Bonanza to the show. Not quite confident in it yet, I decided to go around the lake, stopping at Greater Kankakee Airport (IKK) Illinois, south of Chicago for fuel. Exiting the airplane at the fuel stop, we were horrified to see a long streak of oil down the right side of the airplane. Further investigation showed that a maintenance shop had plumbed the new wet air pump backward for the Bonanza. While most airplanes use vacuum to drive air instruments, most Bonanzas use pressure. So instead of drawing air past the instruments, in this case, it was pushing oily air toward the instruments. Fortunately, the in-line air filter kept oil from getting into the instruments, instead porting it out the side—and all down the side of the airplane. No local mechanic was available to work on it, but it was deemed safe to fly to the airport in nearby Gary, Indiana (GYY), where we left it and rented a car to drive nearly four hours to the show; in some 30 trips there, it was my only time arriving on four wheels. A week later we drove back to Gary, where a shiny air pump had been installed and the entire mess cleaned up. The wet vacuum pump was junked.
Every time I fly by Kankakee, I remember the angst of seeing all that oil, which, in reality was little more than a quart. A great airport, though, and a great stop for those coming from the East who are uncomfortable crossing the lake.”
“Marion/Brown County Field (APT)—We stopped here on the way to OSH last year. Tucked in between some mountains. Pretty place. It has a mom-and-pop type FBO, fuel, courtesy car.
Gillespie County Airport (T82)—It has the Hangar Hotel (hangarhotel.com), fuel, and a restaurant! Iconic Texas airport destination.”
Cayla McLeod Hunt
“Coming from northwest Louisiana we always stop in Mexico Memorial Airport (MYJ) in Missouri. Cheap fuel, easy to get in and out of.”
Bossier City, Louisiana
No matter where you stop along the way, enjoy your trip to OSH and fly safe! And don’t forget to stop by the AOPA tent across from the Brown Arch. We can’t wait to see you.
What’d we miss? Let us know and we may include your suggestion next year!