Be sure to sign up for the weekly RV Travel Newsletter, published continuously every Saturday since 2001. Click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Most Grueling But Rewarding RV Trip I Have Ever Taken - Picking Up A Helicopter

Not Its Natural Environment!
    I just got back. Normally, I'm fully bummed out that my RV adventure is over. This time I am glad it's done. Here in the North East we are usually just getting into Spring weather around the beginning of April. I start the process of de-winterizing and stocking the RV for the season's travels. Well, this time I got the opportunity to buy a Helicopter that I had been looking for, but the catch was I had to pick it up in Wisconsin. OK...sounded like a perfect time for an RV trip, problem was the weather hadn't been cooperating and it had been well below freezing for most of the days leading up to my departure date. The day before, I had warm enough weather that I was able to get the fresh water system operational and do some basic startup maintenance. Then the morning came and off we went. In the rain. More on this a bit later.

The helicopter is a Rotorway Exec 90 (heavily modified). It seats two people and will fly about 2 hours or 200 miles between fill ups. I had built an older version with a friend in the late '80s early '90s and was familiar with the issues and benefits associated with this particular type of aircraft. I've been flying helicopters (and airplanes) for Many, many years and it was time for me to mix flying with my RV. When everything is set up, I will be going to events around the country with the helicopter in tow. You know, fly-ins, Oshkosh, aviation related events. Great people, fun events with good food and a place to sleep comfortably. What else could one ask of an RV trip!


Yes, Rain All The Way There!
So off I went to Black Falls River, Wisconsin, on a rainy Thursday morning. Expected trip time was 16 hours and some number of minutes. All was going well until it wasn't. I received a call that the delivery wouldn't take place on the appointed day, but a day later. No worries as I had built in an extra day for travel stops and to see some interesting sights both ways. We arrived in a rainstorm to the Walmart parking lot in Black River Falls and went inside for some supplies and to notify them we were staying until the following day. Then the rain became Ice, the parking lot was completely covered, as was the RV. The temperatures were dropping fast. I began to worry about freezing pipes and water damage. The furnace was running...a lot! Thankfully the inside temperatures remained a comfortable 68 degrees thanks to the extra insulation of the window covers.

Overnight, you could hear the ice and snow hitting the roof and sideways into the glass. The RV was rocking from the gusts of wind. I'm happy to report no leaks at all! At least that's a good thing. I've also discovered exactly where the air comes in.When it's that cold, you find them pretty quick! Definitely going to get some weatherstripping under the main door and under the dashboard. In the morning we awoke to 1/2" of ice all over the RV and frigid temps. Ice was still coming down in tiny pellets. Felt like riding my motorcycle in the rain, little pin pricks all over your face.

Ready To Swap Tow Vehicles
Then the truck towing the helicopter on its trailer arrived. No lull in the weather. The cover came off the helicopter and the moving blankets secured with bungees and layers of 20" wide stretch wrap (U-haul about $20 for 1000 ft.) went on. That stuff is AMAZING. Covered everything (the most important being the front windscreen "bubble"), holding the doors closed and protecting from stones and road debris. Though putting it on in frigid temperatures and high winds isn't much fun at all. Especially while being pelted by tiny ice pellets! Finally it was done and the trailer ready to be switched over to the RV. Of course, the hitch ball I had was 2" and the proper one for the trailer was 2 15/16" So, back into Walmart to buy one. THAT'S why it was good to meet there. Lots of Trailer components, just in case! Also got some RV sewage tank treatment as I was running low. Oh, and a few extra snacks too!


Ready To Roll!
Once the hitch ball issue was fixed and everything hooked up (thankfully I had the right trailer connector!) the ride home began. In an ice/snow storm. My RV wasn't designed with this weather in mind, but really performed admirably in the harsh weather and icy road conditions, even towing the trailer! Color me impressed. Then, the wipers stopped wiping. About 2 miles down the dark road. Nowhere to pull over as construction had removed the shoulders from the list of choices. So, driving without wipers for a few miles to find the next reasonably safe spot to fix them was, needless to say, a challenge. Once found, it was a simple matter of removing ice buildup from the blades and getting underway as quickly as possible. The ice had built up on the roadway and was like hitting inverted nasty potholes. Every bang had me groaning with the equipment waiting for something to break.

Still Raining!
The snow lasted for many hours, slowly turning into freezing rain, then just a hard downpour as we neared Ohio. Not fun at all. We spent the next night in a truck stop, noisy...very noisy. But I was grateful for the break and the long rig was easy to park in the long, well marked spot. In the AM, it was still raining, and ice was on our tail, so I left at 6AM and got as far as I could. We had missed the ice, and pulled in to refuel in merely a rainstorm.  Back on the road again, lots and lots of rain with no end in sight. Made it most of the way home, spent the last night only 314 miles from home. Yes, in the rain. In the morning we made a leisurely breakfast and finished the ride home. Still in the rain!

Finally arriving home, I had to switch vehicles to get the trailer where it belonged and back the RV down the long driveway into its regular space. I was proud of how well it drove and handled the rather harsh conditions. Made me happy I had the RV and got me thinking of the RV/Helicopter adventures to follow.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

www.thewanderman.com

21 comments:

  1. What a great adventure Rich. May see you you in Oshkosh last week of July. Blue skies my fellow aviator.

    Michael Mayville
    EAA 9028459

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael,
      I drove pretty close to Oshkosh on the way back....not sure I'll make this year as all my time off got used! I will try!

      Thanks,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  2. Welcome to Wisconsin weather. We got back from Florida on March 18th. Warm, sunny. Perfect weather. One thing about Wisconsin weather. Wait 24 hours and it will change. Wish I could say blame the weatherman [or woman] but they're just the messanger. Today [April 21] it should be 50+ degrees in most of southern Wisconsin. Snow almost all gone. Roads in good shape - no ice. Anyway, glad you had a safe trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,
      I know, it was CRAZY.. same in the NorthEast in general...the weather has been doing some very odd things lately. I blame Al Gore!

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  3. Back in the early 80's I seriously looked into building a Rotorway chopper. However, I had no place to actually build it, and it was pretty spendy as well. So my "seriousness" ended there with me drooling over my brochures. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MrTommy,
      Want a ride? :)

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  4. Bet there will be lots of stares when you're pulling your new toad!

    We'll be looking for you on the road!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simonsrf,
      Every fuel stop was a lecture on helicopters and aircraft in general....you get used to it!


      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    2. Just be happy you weren't towing a monster drone....the lectures would go on longer than the fuel stop. :-)

      Looks like lots of fun...I'm jealous!

      Delete
    3. Simonsrf,
      Now THAT sounds cool!
      We could always meet up in the RVs at an event and I'd be glad to give you a ride.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
    4. I very well may take you up on that offer.....thank you!

      Safe Drively! :-)

      Delete
  5. Sorry our Wisconsin spring weather was such a challenge. It got even worse with up to 30+" of snow. Maybe by next weekend I can start de-winterizing the MH.

    Ron T. aka retired EAA Museum Curator

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RT.
      I had some serious concerns about freezing pipes when the temps dipped into the 20's on the overnight! Luckily, no damage.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  6. So interesting to read your story. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown,

      Many Thanks! Keep Reading,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  7. Rich, I got my Private ticket in 1974, Instrument in the 90's, my own fixed-wing in 1995. I flew trans-continental, bush, formation, photo-shoots, aerobatics, you name it, and stacked up 3500 hours. And with all that, I'm still jealous....

    :o)

    Fly safe and have fun,

    Greg Illes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg,
      You can never fly too much! How about a rotorcraft add-on rating :)

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  8. You'll start some conversations when you pull in anywhere with that outfit! How do you plan to load/unload the helicopter from the trailer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee,
      I love conversation starters. This one is a bit too large for a cocktail party, but works great at truck stops.

      The helicopter has ground handling wheels that attach to the back of the skids and the trailer has stowable ramps. I use a 2500lb pull 12V winch to pull it up and lower it down. Pretty easy.

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete
  9. Rich, to protect your tail boom and be legal, most jurisdictions require a red flag that is 12" X 12". Often anything over 4 feet from the rear of the vehicle/trailer requires this. (And a red light at night if you're towing at night. Looks like your flag is a mite small.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anin,
      Nope. Less than 3 Feet extension. No requirements needed.

      Thanks,

      Rich "The Wanderman"

      Delete

Thank you for your comment. Our moderator checks each one to make sure we keep the Spammers away. So the comment will likely not appear immediately.