The 2016 Mooney Caravan was worth the wait. After a four-hour departure delay to let storms move and clouds lift, 41 Mooneys—reconfigured into two-ship elements—flew safely to Oshkosh from Madison, WI on Sunday, July 24 under the professional flight lead of Chuck “Cowboy” Crinnian. For the first time in the Caravan’s 19-year history, our mass arrival became an Airventure “special event,” with a listing on the EAA’s schedule, live coverage on the Jumbotron and Mooney experts Don and Jan Maxwell announcing our lineup to the crowd.
The 2016 Caravan welcomed 6 new element leads and 16 newbies, flying M20Cs, M20Rs and various models in between. Ships departed at 15- or 30-second intervals from Madison for a roughly 38-minute flight to 36L at OSH. With safety and the integrity of the formation being paramount, Cowboy reconfigured the formation from the Caravan’s traditional three-ship vic to two-ship elements to allow for flexibility and an efficient arrival in the event of an in-flight runway change from OSH Tower.
This year, the EAA positioned our parking area on the Northwest side of runway 27, across from our usual location. The 2016 North 40 parking was very close to Friar Tuck's restaurant but a bus ride or long walk from the shower and flush toilet facilities.
By midweek, a number of Mooney Caravan activities had taken place and most had settled in to a groove. The Caravan’s first annual scavenger hunt proved a family-friendly hit and a welcome addition to the traditional event lineup: the dinner at Pedro’s and the Annual BBQ and raffle, the Mooney Owners Forum and the Ask the Experts Panel, the Royal and Ancient Secret and Sober Society of the Single Malt, the Sponsorship Social and the two sponsored breakfasts. The BBQ was yet again a huge success with 135 in attendance. There was another new wrinkle Wednesday night: Mooney Caravan participants donned Hawaiian shirts to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and to attend themed activities and performances, such as the EAA Concert Band and Ladies Must Swing, an all-woman big band, before gathering for the magical night air show and fireworks event.
Oshkosh is a special place for many of us. And the Mooney Caravan? Some would describe it as a means to get to Oshkosh. However, to those that remember its origin, and for those of us discovering it, it’s a means to ensure that we camp together and enjoy fellowship with friends. For one week in July, we can truly say we are where the party is at—the aviation celebration of the year.And speaking of parties and celebrations, next year is going to be a remarkable milestone. It will mark the Mooney Caravan's 20th year! We hope you join us in Madison in 2017 to be part of the celebration and adventure. Bring your Mooney; bring a friend; and bring your love for flying! We look forward to seeing you!