#OSH16 Wish List: What I'm Looking Forward to at the Annual Aviation Family Reunion

2:01 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

As I write this, there are only 16 days left before I board the pressurized mailing tube and rocket eastbound towards EAA AirVenture...or to many, it's just "Oshkosh." This trip is the highlight of my year, or at least most years. That one trip in 2012 with my wife to Austria and Italy was very cool too.

Like all certified #avgeeks, I begin thinking about the next Oshkosh as I am leaving the show grounds for the last time each year. I think about the future show as I cut off the current year's wristband, which has darkened from sweat, sun and a week of showering with a paper strip firmly attached to my arm. The ceremonial cutting of the band always means it's back to reality, back to not being in the best place on Earth if you're an #avgeek.

When I board the early flight out of KEUG on 7/24 to start this year's journey, there will be a million thoughts swimming in my head, what I will see there, and do there, and even more importantly, who I will again meet there. As much as I like the "AirVenture" part of the event - the air shows, exhibits and forums - it is the "Oshkosh" part of this week that I look forward to, when I again are able to hang with "my people"...those incredibly cool aviators and enthusiasts that share my passions for aviation and technology.

So just what is it I am looking forward to most? Let's take a wander through Danoland and find out...

#CampBacon: This is ground zero at the show for me these days, where I can become surrounded by people who are perfectly aligned with my philosophies on flying, in an aviation sense but also for the passion they have for the show, for aviation in general, and for the people we know as #avgeeks. Each time I take a few steps into the common area at the camp inside Camp Scholler, I'm certain I'll meet up with someone I've known for a long time, either from this show or on Twitter. And nights there around the campfire are the best. Great chatter overflowing with stories of the day, with the Leinie's flowing and where it's not unlikely to have some #avgeek whip out their Macbook and code an aviation app...on the spot.

The Martin Mars Water Bomber:
Each year, EAA brings one big plane in that blows everyone's mind, and this year's mind-blower is the large fire suppression aircraft that is well-known for making big radial engine noise on takeoff, and dropping gigantic amounts of water on wildfires. It will be based somewhere in the vicinity of the Seaplane Base, itself a jewel in the "Oshkosh" crown. Nobody but EAA yet knows the plans, where it will be based exactly, if there will be tours, or when it will operate off Lake Winnebago. But when it does depart, you can bet it will be a sight to see. The only thing better would be to snag a media ride on it if such a thing exists. Hello, EAA, I'm talkin' to you...

Warbirds and Vintage: I never spend enough time over in Warbirds or Vintage, not sure why. This year, I am going to make a point of getting over to these areas more, it is a simple tram ride away from most places I will find myself at the show. The dedication and money these owners have put into their airplanes deserves our respect, and we need to make sure to find the owners under their wing and thank them for being at the show.

John Stahr's "Angel Alley": If you read this blog regularly, you know I write a lot about the incredibly gorgeous RV-8 "American Angel" painted by a fellow Eugene, Oregon EAA chapter 1457 member, John Stahr, owner of Stahr Design/Artistic Aviation. He's one of the finest airbrush artists in the world, and travels extensively turning everything from experimentals to high-end business jets into flying works of art. He always parks his own RV-8 just north of the forums buildings along the tram route out to North 40, and also lines up several of the other experimentals he has painted in various themes. It makes sort of an aviation art gallery, and it is worth finding each year. When you go there, make sure to get down on your knees and look at the art under John's "Angel" it is really, really well done.
The Drive-in Double at Ardy and Ed's features one patty of beef and another of Bratwurst. I order mine with "everything" so it is loaded with the usual assortment of toppings found in burgers. (photo: roadfood.com)
Drive-in Doubles and Black Cows: If I lived in Oshkosh, I doubt I would spend all that much time at Ardy and Ed's drive-in. Not being a "spring chicken," I need to be very careful to watch what I eat or the pounds pile on. But for this one week, being at this iconic 1950s-style drive-in - with actual waitresses on roller skates - it's an incredible joy. Each evening after the air show, the parking lot fills up with #avgeeks, most of them I know...and we all sit on the patio chatting and eating. The restaurant sits under the final approach to RWY 27 at KOSH, so as you dine and chat, you get to watch the inbounds sail past at maybe 300-500 AGL. You never know what you'll see, from seriously old vintage planes to warbirds or bizjets. Each time something floats by overhead, the #avgeeks can easily "spot" it, and it's impossible for a plane to sneak in without someone being able to call out the make/model as well as narrate the history of the ship.

And of course...#Oshbash:
I wasn't going to do an #Oshbash this year, as attendance was dismal last year due to several schedule conflicts on the field. But I'm sure glad I decided to team up with Chris Palmer of AviatorCast Podcast this year, because between us both ginning up the buzz, the interest in my big annual social media meetup event is growing...fast. I'm hearing from people every day that say they are planning to attend, and am sure the pure "networking" aspect of this year's event is helping the event get noticed online. But the Bacon Jerky tasting I'll be doing - serving samples of five flavors of Pork Barrel BBQ's snacks that were featured on Beyond the [Shark] Tank - is also creating interest. I/we have invited tons of media and #avgeeks, podcasters, print media, new media and plenty of aviation business owners for two hours of shaking hands and chatting face-to-face about how we can all help each other succeed and grow. #Oshbash is Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Press Tent, and more info is at Oshbash.com.

All signs indicate that yet again, the 5,000(ish) volunteers that put this show together each year will again create something that is memorable and truly amazing. I cannot imagine a summer without Oshkosh, so look me up, let's talk marketing, airplanes, writing or burgers.

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