Oshkosh: A Love Story

EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh… if you have ever been there you understand the plethora of emotions you feel when you journey to the land of airplanes year in and year out. Some (myself include), have tried to compare the journey to Disney World. Lately however, I have come to the conclusion that there is almost no similarities between the two adventures.

I have been to EAA AirVenture two times and this upcoming week will be the third time in a row that I will be in attendance in this incredible event. I can still remember the first time I was told I was going to AirVenture just three years ago. I was so ready, beaming from ear to ear with excitement. Now three years later, I will be going to AirVenture for my third time and I am just as excited as the first time.

There is something truly magical when you step onto the airport. The 1,392 plus acres of land within a gate, that in the off season they call Wittman Regional Airport, turns into a village of aviation everything for a week. With anything that is repeated yearly, every pilot has traditions with going to AirVenutre. For me, it is calling up my friend and aviation inspiration, to plan the trip a couple of months in advance. Then, when the time nears I finalize plans and I meet him in Cincinnati then we begin the drive up to Wisconsin. The trip there is half  fun and half the annoyance. Although long, we never run out of things to talk about and although it may be repeated from time to time it is always great to be fully engulfed in the aviation lifestyle for the road trip. We will take turns driving and stop to eat at some interesting spots along the way.

Then it is that time, the final push, the last thirty minutes of drive time. We pass the Fond Du Lac airport on the left of the highway and we know we are almost to our destination. Who ever is driving at this point gets the short end of the stick because he knows that his attention can not be “as” focused on the line of aircraft in the skies as we grow nearer to the airport. As we fidget in our seats just wanting to get there, we peer into the distance and see the welcoming camp grounds of Camp Scholler once more! We are finally home… I mean there. It is no secret that almost anyone that comes to AirVenture is a genuine romantic for aviation…. how couldn’t you be. With thousands of aircraft coming and going daily and radial engines soothing your ears as you try to sleep, it is hard to argue that you do not go to Oshkosh for the love of it.

We finally drive into the grounds looking for our camp site, to find that people decide to take more spots than they are allowed. We are not surprised by this… it is a yearly occurrence. We find a spot and set up our camp the way we always will (staying clear of porta-potties). After an hour of sweat and yelling (only on occasion) we are finally done with the boring part of the week, set-up. Parched and hungry from the trip, we head across the street where a tent with great food, grilled corn on the cob, and wonderful service awaits us. Finally we sit down, relax, and find ourselves for the first time during the whole trip, taking it all in. As we eat, our friends come and go and it is great to see people you sometimes only see at Oshkosh. Stories are repeated and laughs are exchanged while of-age pilots gulp down the over priced beer. Me, well I’ll just have a coke. This is the part of AirVenuture that I consider as our opening night!

After a long night of story telling and bullshi@ing it is morning again, time to make the trek up to the shower house. After washing off with a sink sprayer once more, I am always reminded of how much I miss my high pressure shower head at home. It is just a small price to pay however, for what awaits through the gates of AirVenture. My friend and I walk through the gates and we are ear to ear beaming with excitement. Speechless, we go our separate ways to explore what we have on our Oshkosh bucket list for the year.

AirVenture 2010 Bucket List:

– Go to AirVenture.

AirVenture 2011 Bucket List:

– Take photos of aircraft (Ended up with 5,000+)

AirVenture 2012 Bucket list:

– Research RV tools.

– Research Aerobatics.

– Sit on the flight line for a couple hours.

– Enjoy the air show.

– Meet Rob Holland…

 

After browsing the tents and exhibitors I settle down around air show center to take in the daily air show. Last year this is were I met a new friend of mine and it just goes to show how meeting new people is inevitable when you come to Oshkosh. As we watch the air show pilots perform maneuvers only our wildest dreams can imagine, we snap photos by the hundreds in hopes that we will get around to editing them before next AirVenture (guilty). I secretly tell myself that I will be the one flying infront of spectators someday and hope to make that dream come true. For right now however, I fully engulf myself in their performances.

Aeroshell Team

skip takeoff

If time permits we find ourselves hopping into the SUV and driving down the road to the Seaplane base. You may love Oshkosh but to experience the seaplane base first hand is worth the trip alone. The setting of the base makes even the most manly of men use the word beautiful, and the aircraft are nothing short of amazing. We promised ourselves we would eat and spend an afternoon there someday because it is something to experience, and not merely just go to for ten minutes.

The day is slowly winding down and it is time to head back to camp, we meet up with friends and hit the food tent restaurant once more for some food, corn and beverage. It is a cycle and it is a good one at that.

Rinse, Wash, Repeat until trip is over.

Without Oshkosh I would have had never known about the experimental chapter in aviation, I would have never known about so many famous aviators, and I would have never met so many wonderful and inspiring pilots and people.

Many can say that Oshkosh is just a place and an event that happens every year at the end of July. But to me it is much more than that. When I see the airplanes overhead as we approach, and I speak to all the people there, I realize that for a couple of days, I am in a magical and wonderful place where cares are set aside for love. No, not love for any one person, not for any one aircraft, but for aviation. And that is what keeps us coming back year round.

This year at EAA AirVenture 2012 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin stay safe, have fun, and tweet me! See you there!

Until Next Time,

Pilot Ian