Our group is about one thing: getting dozens of Piper Cherokee owners safely into Oshkosh together, to enjoy EAA’s Airventure, the world’s biggest airshow. Since our start in 2010, the majority of our pilots and their families have returned with us numerous times even though many at first planned for a one-time “bucket list” experience. Their continued involvement is driven by the deep friendships which have developed through the adventure of flying safely with a large group of pilots with a shared love for our airplanes.
How We Do It
The Cherokees to OSH “mass arrival” is not an event – it’s a process. For dozens of planes to depart and arrive safely, the group must have the right safety-focused attitude and be properly trained. It requires flying in formation with other planes – something most pilots have never done. The formation flying we do is simple to learn but requires some skill development. We’re not putting on an airshow – we’re flying to one.
This requires some “book work” and actual in-the-airplane training and practice. Although the group has evolved into a “family” of fliers who enjoy this type of flying, our procedures are definitely intended to enable the one-time “bucket list” trip to AirVenture to be a fun and safe event.
The process starts well before July’s AirVenture and includes a review of the presentations under Documents/CtO Training Resources, followed by attendance at a “mini-clinic”. Only those who reach a safe level of skill flying the CtO formation procedures will be able to join the Mass Arrival. But don’t worry: our “pass rate” is extremely high; it is the RARE exception someone does not ultimately reach the needed level of safety to fly in the Mass Arrival.
Unlike almost anything else in aviation, formation flying is first and foremost a “team sport”, with the safety and success of the group dependent upon all team members developing and maintaining that perspective from before they arrive at the pre-flight briefing until after the debrief is complete
Cherokees to Oshkosh started as an audacious idea hatched by Terry and Karen Hocking and Ray and Jill Liles to shoot for “50 on the 50th”: have a mass arrival at AirVenture of 50 Piper Cherokees during the 50th anniversary year of the certification of the Cherokee in 2010. Countless hours were spent leading a cadre of volunteers who coordinated everything – lodging, local transportation, flight procedures, training techniques, and a host of other critical details. Many of those pioneers remain highly active in the organization to this day. The tradition of safety and teamwork has continued – and has created a tight-knit family of aviators
A Big Move for CtO in 2021
When CtO first gathered in 2010, Waupaca, Wisconsin became the home for our reunions each summer. Everyone looked forward to seeing “family” from around the country and enjoying the hospitality of those family members who live all year in Waupaca - at the airport, hotel, Ale House, and elsewhere.
Over the years our family has grown in numbers and Waupaca has grown in popularity with other vacationers. After extensive discussions, the CtO Board has decided a move to another site was needed to support our growing family. After considering flight operations, lodging, transportation, and other factors, the board opted to relocate our “home” to Central Wisconsin Airport, KCWA, beginning in 2021.
Waupaca has been a wonderful “home” and will always be remembered fondly by our CtO family. In fact, it will be sincerely missed. We look forward to continued growth and friendship at KCWA.