Sonoma to Oshkosh-Part 4-What to do?

If you enjoyed the stories about Adventure Wingman 2022 that covered 1000 miles in 10 days, then your gonna love this story covering nearly 2000 miles in just 6 days. This story’s journey started almost two years early having completed the 50 State Paramotor Tour and the Coast to Coast of the USA in just 8 days in 2020. If you haven’t read the two previous posts, consider starting there as it sets the stage with Paramotor Adventure Trip Choices that were considered before The months leading up to Sonoma to Oshkosh.

| Paramotor Adventure Trip Choices | The months leading up to Sonoma to Oshkosh |
| Part 1-Getting-Ready | Part-2-Go-Time | Part-3-Bad-Decisions | Part-4-What-to-do | Part-5-Final-Push |
| After-Show |

Day 4—What to do?

Frustrated the only clear decision to be made would be to travel with Ray to Buffalo almost due north where a new prop would arrive by afternoon the next day. Instead of Interstate 80, I would travel along the i90 for the balance of Wyoming through Nebraska—this would only shorten the trip by 100 miles. It would also lower the launches to around 4000 MSL instead of 7000 MSL. It wasn’t how I planned the trip, but it would still be a great achievement for me and Paramotors.

We arrived in Buffalo sometime after midnight, showered, and straight to sleep. Bright and early Ray and I headed out to one of his fields where he would put me to work to pay for the distraction I had created and distract me while we waited for the proper to be delivered.

Day 4—Flight 1

By late afternoon we had returned and the prop had arrived. If all went well I would get at least one, but hopefully two flights today.

My strategy —fly a shorter shake-out flight of 50 nautical miles to Northeast Wyoming Reginal Airport and then get airborne again as quickly as possible and try to make another 98 NM somewhat along i90 to Sturges, South Dakota for the night.

Ray, Tom, and I headed up the road to the airport with the new prop in place, and this time drained a little fuel before setting about warming up the engine and laying the wing out. Unfortunately, the engine didn’t immediately make full power and while a few tweaks did improve things, it wasn’t 100%. Nonetheless, it was enough to make a go of it.

18:06—Though I was sad to leave a new friend behind that had adopted me, I was finally airborne again and was enjoying the beautiful topography Wyoming had to offer. 1h29m later I landed 60 miles away as planned.

Day 4—Flight 2

20:07—Just 29 minutes later a full load of fuel I was on my way. It would be dark in an hour and I would have another two-hour flight ahead of me.

Though the occasional fuel starvation issue was getting worse I pressed on. I admit it scared me a little when it would threaten to die given I really didn’t have a good reference to the ground other than major roads I hoped I could make in the event I lost the engine. The flight felt like it took forever and the stress of the night flight was making me pretty tired. The last 30 mins weaving my way through Sturgis was especially hard. I finally reached the airport, but once again despite my best efforts could not get the lights to come on. In this case, I think the lights were on a separate frequency from the CTAF because when I tested in the morning it worked. Some light from the ramp provided just enough light on the taxiway that was aligned with the wind and I figured I’d make that work and land on the grass for a soft landing just in case I misjudged things.

The landing was great and I repeated my rhythm of refueling and then retiring to the FBO to recharge equipment and take a nap. The flight had lasted 2h53m at 22:59 making another 107 miles.

Day 5—Flight 1

This time I woke up at 3 am and was determined to make up lost time. By 03:51 I was airborne and making 50 mph as the sun rose. A little after 06:11 landed at Philip Airport, SD after 2h:19 covering 98 miles. Unfortunately, the fuel pump wasn’t working causing a 1h40m delay before the city finally resolved the issue.

Day 5—Flight 2

07:50—and I was finally on my way. The flight was picturesque and once again made around 50 mph. I skipped my planned airport and opted for another alternative, Kimball Municipal Airport. When I got there and was circling to figure out my approach I realized there was no fuel station and in my haste to continue on, I forgot to check. As I looked for options for another airport nearby I discovered it was too far away to make. Fortunately, as I approached the city I could see a Love’s Gas station on the edge of the highway and there was plenty of room to land in the field next to the truck stop. Flight time 3h09m and 136 miles.

I really wished I had recorded the look on people’s faces when I walked up to the gas station and filled up my paramotor. Next time I guess.

Day 5—Flight 3

A short while later I was on my way but keeping an eye on the thermals that were building. 50 miles on and I was at Mitchell Municipal airport I’d had enough of the rough air and decided to set it down for safety. It’s amazing how these things work out. It had been about 24 hours since I’d eaten anything more than a Clif Bar and I was hungry. The airport manager was once again amazing and let me use their courtesy car which enabled head into town, get some lunch, and purchase 2-stroke as most of my supply was depleted.

Hydrated, fed, and fueled up I waited on my gear to charge and gradually became more eager to get in the air. I didn’t fancy another late-night flight and was pretty much over it.

Day 5—Flight 4

The weather still wasn’t right, but I was determined to make a reverse launch work. Once again pushing like I wouldn’t usually do, resulted in the first attempt not going so well and a line got wrapped around the prop and crumpled the top part of my frame. This is when my Blackhawk Kestral Elite became a Blackhawk Flat-Top. This didn’t deter me. Bending the aluminum back as best I could, setup again and after bringing down the glider a few times got it up and stable enough to launch. Once in the air, it turned out perfectly and I was once again cruising across the midwest farmland. By the end of the flight, I was encountering a slight headwind and decided I’d achieved enough for the day. This flight—2h39m and 92 miles.

To put the day’s achievement in perspective; 4 flights, 370 miles, and over 8 hours in the seat and I had crossed the whole of South Dakota in one day.

The FBO was new I enjoyed chatting with the parachute rigger who was packing for the club. By 10 pm my planning and weather analysis for the following day was complete and I was finally able to get to sleep on the comfortable couch having taken a hot shower and drip drying.

Part 5—Final PushLike Follow on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube.

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