Guest Post: My Fifth Trip to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

4:16 PM

 By Glen Towler,
Airplanista Guest Blogger

As it says in the title, this year was my fifth-annual pilgrimage to the temple of aviation geekery otherwise known as EAA AirVenture, or "Oshkosh" or #OSH16.

I live near Wellington, New Zealand, some 8,861 miles from Oshkosh,Wisconsin. This year, my first stop was Houston Texas. I left home on the 16th of July and caught a train to Wellington and then a bus to the local airport. My flight was with Air New Zealand this year on a two-year-old A320 with the large sharklets. I got to look in the cockpit as well, and of course chat with the flight deck crew. I continued on to Auckland to board a 777-200, which was delayed due to engine was interesting watching them do an engine test in front of the terminal!

After arrival in Houston, I went to the Johnson Space Center on Monday, which was well worth a visit because the first thing you see when you arrive in the car park is a space shuttle mock up on a 747 carrier. Most of the day was spent on the tram tour of the Space Center, which was very interesting. The tour included the Mission Control where the Apollo moon missions where run from using computers that had only 10 MB of memory. And there were lots of exhibits worth seeing, including a shuttle simulator and space lab trainer. 

On Tuesday, a Twitter friend and myself went to the Lone Star Museum in Galveston, which is on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. This small but very interesting museum presents a few WW2 aircraft, which I of course had to photograph, including a P-47, B-17, DC-3, T6 Texan and a B-25. This is a great museum well worth a visit as I think the aircraft are all airworthy. The rest of my time was taken up with sightseeing and meeting Twitter friends, which was a lot of fun and shows the power of social media. In the evening I did go to Hobby Airport near Houston, which was very quiet - only a couple of Southwest 737s came into land when I was there.

I got up very early on Thursday to catch a Spirit Airlines flight to Chicago. I was surprised how good the seats where on the flight as I did pay extra for the big seats at the very front of the cabin. Well worth paying extra too, with huge amounts of legroom and very wide seats. I would never sit down the back of those yellow buses, as I like to call them. The fare was much cheaper than United as I will not fly the basic economy on so many airlines any more the seat pitch is just too painful for a tall guy like me. 

The flight was pleasant enough; I arrived on time and had a few hours before I could collect my rental car in ORD. So I went to the USO because as a NZ army reservist, I am allowed to go those places and they are just wonderful. We just don't have anything like it in New Zealand.

About midday I collected my rental car and drove to Oshkosh for the first time in five years, and didn't get lost on the way. I always seem to find Google maps has a slight time lag, and you have be careful that you don't go left at a fork signed posted Fond Du lac which I did one year. I arrived in Oshkosh about 3 p.m. I had planned to buy a tent, but my very good friend, Larry Overstreet (the mayor of Camp Bacon where I stay) messaged me on Facebook and said he had a tent I could borrow because mine was in storage. This year I did arrive earlier than normal it was great to see them setting everything up for the show. Lots of workmen and drivers working all hours to make the magic happen.

I do feel very lucky to be able to come to Oshkosh five years in a row - the people are just amazing nice and friendly. So many people say the first year, it is all about the planes, and the next it is the people and that is just so true. Every year I meet up with old friends and make new ones and of course look at some awesome aircraft. The highlight this year had to the Martin Mars Water Bomber. The first and last year it will appear unless someone like Kermit Weeks keeps it flying but who knows.

I am back in Wellington now after a crazy couple of weeks and have lots of photographs to share online. My Twitter handle is @NZaircraftfan and I also post photos on Flickr as well. A record year according to the's to #OSH17.

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