Airplanista at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Day 1: Can't This Airliner Fly Any Faster?

1:38 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

Those who have been to AirVenture and now must watch from a distance as the aviation family celebrates all that is wonderful about this incredible event knows this...is...torture. As I write this, fat and happy inside a United 737NG at FL350 somewhere over a square state eastbound towards KORD, anticipation is off the charts as I think about what is waiting for me at the end of this day.

As a daily Twitter user, I have been watching the ramp up, thanks to guys like @JackHodgson and @LarryOverstreet who seems to have been camping at #CampBacon since Christmas. I've read about the little things, small details only we who have been to Oshkosh many times can appreciate. The store shelves in The Red Barn Camp Store are stocked and we rejoice. They mow the grass in Camp Scholler and it warrants a tweet from @EAAupdate that gets re-tweeted many, many times. Days roll by, time ticks slowly to opening day.

Every year, legions of EAA staff and volunteers do a superhuman job of resuscitating a sleepy airfield that was frozen with snow a few months ago into the coolest place on Earth for we Airplanistas in the aviation family.

That clock in Dick Knapinski's office - the infamous "Countdown Clock" you may have heard about - finally...FINALLY, hit zero, and the gates officially opened this past Monday so the show can begin. This year, I see more evidence that at least in the aviation social networking world, there are more people than ever very glad that Dick's clock cooperated yet again and we can enjoy all that is perfect with Oshkosh, the party, and AirVenture, the trade show, convention and educational extravaganza.

But as I travel east towards the show, I of course am watching the Twitter stream of the #OSH13 hashtag when I have a connection, and as expected, clues are everywhere that this event is like no other. Here is a taste:

I was sitting in a business cubicle at KSFO's gate 73 waiting to board when I saw that my friend, Sam Wiltzius - @WiredforFlight on Twitter - was having the kind of tremendously unbelievable day you can only experience at Oshkosh. He is part of the live streaming TV crew and he was busy wiring up the helicopter that will take Yves "Jetman" Rossy up for his afternoon performance. Sam tweeted out a pic of his work and the helicopter, and instantly everyone reading it got jealous...but in a good way. I think I let out a kind of audible "all right!" upon seeing his tweet, and the guy next to me said something like "what, what?" I proceeded to tell him what got me excited, and it turned out he was a United mechanic headed to O'Hare who had built a Vari-eze back in the 90s and has been to Oshkosh three times. I told him what Sam was "getting" to do, and he smiled as wide as me. He got it.
Soon, I will be wheels down in Appleton, and headed to the bacon. Camp Bacon that is....the social epicenter of the #Avgeeks community at Oshkosh. When I get there, I will be surrounded by honest, humble, loyal aviators and wannabes...the classiest people on this planet. They do not need to fly bizjets to be first class, or drink the finest champagne. They can drive a Subaru and it might as well be a Bentley. Yes, these are my people, and I get to spend the next four days with them. No caviar allowed, just mountains of cheese curds, delectable thinly-sliced fried pig and some ice cold Leinie's.

In the air this week will be the soft sounds of Skyhawks poking along overhead, while flights of T-6s slide by at 4,000 MSL in close formation. Aerobatic superstars will do things nobody should be able to do in an airplane, and cute kids wearing Piper Cub t-shirts will be so excited they nearly explode. In Camp Scholler, someone will be showing off their new headsets, and WAIT...was that Mike Goulian and Bob Hoover that just cruised by in a golf cart? Too. Freakin'. Cool.

Every day at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is always more awesome than the one before. Time spent in this wonderful place is always golden. It will be heaven, it will be incredible.

And it will be Home.

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