Airplanista Blog Editor
As I continue my coverage of EAA Airventure Oshkosh from so far away, I am drawing on the many wonderful images that have been burned into my brain over the six trips I have made back there. I feel like I know the grounds and the show well, and like anyone who enjoys the kind of love I have for this event and the respect I have for the organization that puts it on, there are things that can be found at Oshkosh that you just don’t see anywhere else on this planet.
Are there other air shows? Sure. But while cool in their own way, Sun n’ Fun, Farnborough, Arlington, EBACE or any other show/convention just cannot compare to the over-the-top circus atmosphere of Airventure. So today I will pass along a list of random things I am missing this year due to the family obligations that has me grounded in Oregon while the rest of my aviation family celebrates flying in Wisconsin:
• Always something big making the show: Anyone who was lucky enough to witness the arrival of the Airbus A380 into Airventure in 2009 knows “dramatic” does not adequately describe this landing. With a serious direct crosswind blowing out of the west across runway 36, there were plenty of light planes going around to runway 27, and the ones that did try to land in front of the flight line crowd did their best to not ground loop. So in comes the A380, the most anticipated arrival of that year’s Airventure. The Airbus test pilot crabbed his way to the numbers (see photo in this post) so hard, I was not the only person in the crowd who wondered out loud of we weren’t about to get a face-full of Airbus. But he managed to slam the big plane right on the numbers, and you can see the result in this video. Anywhere else but Airventure, this might have been a go-around or even a wave-off to land at an alternate airport. But not at Oshkosh. Here, even the biggest airplane in the sky can slam it home on the pink dot to thrill us all..and still make the first turnoff into Conoco/Phillips Plaza!
• Jerry’s One Man band: Sure, it’s just a guy with a bunch of musical stuff outside his van, making the exact same music he’s made for years, if not decades. Jerry sets up his one-man band act at the exact same spot every year at Airventure, and it is hard to imagine Oshkosh without him.
• 100+ Piper Cubs: I do not have the official count yet as to exact how many Piper Cubs arrived at this year’s edition of Airventure, but on Sunday – the day BEFORE the show officially opened – one person said they counted over 100, with more in the pattern and still more flying low and slow from all over the country towards KOSH. This is the kind of thing you only see at this show. Each year at Airventure, there is something so epic, so spectacular, it further builds the legend that this monster gathering IS truly the world’s largest aviation celebration. Each year when the show concludes, you think it was the “best Oshkosh ever” and it cannot be topped. And then the EAA crew responsible for organizing this shindig raises the bar a little higher, and rolls out something even MORE massive and MORE insane for the next show.It is scary how everyone at Oshkosh is of one mind. You think you are a full-fledged Airplanista, you live and breathe airplanes, your life revolves around your quests to split the clouds and race across the sky. You are sure you are far and away the most intense aviation fan out there, and then you hit the EAA grounds in late July and realize you are one of that 70,000 person sea of people EXACTLY like you. No matter who you sit next across from to eat the aforementioned brat, that person will be as enamored with everything around the show grounds as you. They have a story to tell about their airplane and their flying, and they will not be able to stop talking about the cool, wonderful things found covering every square inch of the show. It is like that at Oshkosh, everyone is your life-long friend, everyone will give you the short from their backs, and it is clear that we are one big aviation family.
• Brats: If you come to Airventure and do not eat at least one brat sandwich, the local police may lock you up. That’s because is – or at least should be – a city ordinance to make sure everyone eats a brat off the Johnsonville “World’s Largest Grill.” Yes, at Oshkosh, they cook their brats on a grill that is literally as big as a semi-truck…because it IS a semi-truck. Not kidding...it's a full-on, eighteen wheeler, with a honkin’ big grill where the trailer should be. Sure, you can buy some brats in the local store back home, soak them in beer and throw them on your own Weber, but without the Mash helicopter doing laps overhead while you are surrounded by 70,000 of your aviation BFFs, that brat will never taste as good as one consumed at Airventure.