On Thursday, Sept. 3, San Bernardino International Airport was visited by Epic Fuels aerobatics pilot Anthony Oshinuga who was on the last leg of a 6,000-nautical mile cross country tour to visit and thank airport ground crews for their continued service through the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to extending Epic Fuel’s gratitude and encouragement with a personal touch, Oshinuga also delivered personal protective equipment and gifts to the crews.
“We’re trying to be that beacon of light to show the people that we’re going to support our crew, show that they’re appreciated and we’re going to encourage them to keep on doing what they’re doing,” Oshinuga said.
To highlight the team spirit of air and ground crews, Epic Fuels named the trip the Reach Tour, giving it the slogan “Reach for the sky. We’ve got the ground.”
During his 18-day journey, Oshinuga made 44 stops, visiting 24 fixed base operations (FBO) at Epic Fuels’ partnering airports. He started on Monday, Aug. 17, departing from Murrieta, Calif., for the East Coast through the southern states before turning north through the East Coast states then looping west to Washington where he turned south to return to California.
San Bernardino’s Luxivair was the penultimate stop for Oshinuga, who completed his journey at Crown Air Montgomery in San Diegolater on Thursday.
He made the journey in a Pitts S-1S stunt biplane not intended for long-distance flight ⎯ flying in the cramped cockpit without navigational aids, autopilot and other equipment and comforts standard to modern-day flying.
Before the journey, the aircraft was modified to make it more suitable for the loop of America. Cushions were added to the steel pan pilot seat; the engine, normally tuned for racing and stunt flying, was modified for less fuel consumption and the landing gear was beefed up.
With a 25-gallon fuel tank and burning about 9 gallons an hour, Oshinuga flew in stints that were approximately two hours each, covering an average of 275 nautical miles per stint.
In many ways Oshinuga’s flight resembled that of the older era of “dead-reckoning” flying using a watch, maps and visual landmarks to navigate and calculate fuel consumption rather than GPS.
At each stop Oshinuga had the support of the ground crews he was there to thank. They supplied him with fuel, oil changes, tire changes and provided maintenance when needed.
“The journey’s fantastic,” Oshinuga said. “I’ve been going to all these FBOs across the United States of America and each one of them is very, very welcoming and kind. They supported me and provided for my needs. It speaks to general aviation. It’s a tight knit community, and what they’re doing on the ground is tremendous work. If not for them I wouldn’t have been able to make this trip.”
Oshinuga has been an ambassador for Epic Fuels since 2016, and he said, “It’s more than a fuel company. It’s a family.”