Airplanista Aviation Magazine Feature Story: EAA Airventure Oshkosh means something different to each person who attends the air show

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This aviation magazine article was originally published in the July, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine. You can view the original story in our digital aviation magazine here.

To many aviators, heading to the shores of Lake Winnebago each summer for “Oshkosh” is like going home. This event is so big, so cool and so important, we cannot imagine living through a summer without spending a few days of aviation bliss at KOSH. EAA’s AirVenture is many things, among them, it’s one giant party, a serious bash. Welcome to Oshbash, 2011!

It is hard to describe EAA’s annual convention, trade show and air show to someone who has never been lucky enough to spend a few fantastic hours in Airplane Heaven. I have tried, and it never is easy. For 51 weeks each year, Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Wittman Regional Airport is a quiet place, much like airports across the nation. But for one glorious week in July, that all changes dramatically.

by Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Magazine Editor

Jill (Rutan) Hoffman
Over the years I’ve gone to OSH by any means possible. I’ve flown there in the baggage compartment of a Cessna, the back of a B-25, in the luxury of a G2, with Burt Rutan in many of his creations, in an airliner, and an automobile. I look forward to the time I’m able to fly my own airplane to OSH but it will not be this year. This year, I’m arriving in my least favorite mode of transportation, an airliner from Sacramento, CA. My husband on the other hand has the pleasure of flying to the show in one of the Air Force’s beautiful T-38s. As for where I’m staying this year, we plan to rent a few houses to host my entire family.

The thing I’m most excited about is seeing my family. EAA has planned a tribute to my Uncle, Burt, and my father, Dick Rutan this year. It seemed like an excellent reason to plan a Rutan family reunion. After that I’m most excited to be surrounded by airplanes and airplane people. There is no better place in the world then OSH!

AirVenture is a “can’t miss” event, and I always look forward to Dad’s talk about his world flight in the Voyager at the museum. I’ve listen to that talk for 25 years and I still hang on every word.
I’m a child of the military and I married a military man. Because of this, I’ve moved many times and really do not have a hometown. The closest thing I have is OSH. I’ve always felt that people of EAA are my extended family. So I socialize as much as I can. I never know who I’m are going to meet.

For anyone who is at the disadvantage of not knowing what EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is, I suggest they read my first book Oshkosh Memories. It is filled with stories about the greatest air show on earth. The best part is that all the proceeds go to help keep the spirit of aviation alive by helping a deserving young adult attend a Space or Aviation camp.

Tom Brusehaver
I am a pilot-builder planning on going to OSH this year. I may take my Cozy, but I also work for Southwest, so I may try the non-rev thing up there. This is one time when I get to meet face to face with the other builders of the Cozy. I also get to see some of my other aviation friends and airline co-workers.

This year being a salute to Burt Rutan, it is always great to hear his talks, but it will be great to see some of his airplanes that haven’t been around for a few years. I also love to see the vendor products and dream about what I could put in my airplane. I’m always looking for my next project too. I will probably go either Thursday evening, and stay through Saturday or Sunday depending on what vehicle I take.

Julie Vessigault
I’m planning to take the Greyhound to Oshkosh. I’ll be staying at a rented private residence with the Seaplane Pilots Association adjacent to the airport.

Primarily, I’m looking forward to seeing my air show family- air show performers and friends who are coming. I hope to also see/meet Bob Hoover. The #1 thing I want to see is Matt Younkin’s Twin Beech performance. Also can’t miss the Seaplane Pilot’s Association Splash-In and their Corn Roast.

To me, Socialization is key at Oshkosh. Outside of aviation, I’m a pretty strong introvert, but I’m at home with people who appreciate airplanes. If I had to describe AirVenture to non-pilots, I’d say it’s a lot like a trade show with airplanes, and it will change your life.

H. Michael Miley
I’ll be coming to Oshkosh in my RV...but not the type that flies. Once again, I’ll be bringing the RV to be the host of myTransponder’s activities in Camp Scholler. By the way, you can follow us on twitter as @myTransponder and the RV talks too as @HomeSweetRoad.

The pilot in me can’t wait to see all the Naval history. I want lots of thundering blue overhead! The number one thing I want to see? I want to see the people. Planes are the focus, but the people are what make the event. You can see a good example of this at the myTransponder party thursday night. Without socialization, it would be a show with 20,000 planes and nobody to tell the stories. I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones. That’s why I got involved in since it is dedicated to the social side of aviation.

When I tell people about Oshkosh, to the kids, I talk about it like it’s the biggest, loudest air show they will ever see. For the military buff, I talk about the living history. To the gear heads, I invite them to come see what other builders have done to their experimental ships.

David Wallace
This is my first AirVenture and I’m flying commercially to the show. I’m looking forward to Podapolooza and the CNA airshow. I saw the Centennial of Naval Aviation show at NAS North Island, but was too far away to get decent photos of the aircraft. I am hoping to do better at Oshkosh. Also, since this is my first AirVenture and I’m solo, I don’t know of any parties or have friends attending. Am hoping something will pop up.

I tell others that AirVenture is like a business convention (booths, presentations and speakers) and car show (lots of shiny displays). I also mention that close to 20,000 airplanes fly in for the event and that KOSH is the busiest airport in the U.S. during AirVenture.

Trey Stoffregen
We’re flying in the aluminum can (AKA commercial airlines) from Texas into Milwaukee, then renting a car for the drive to Oshkosh. Flying GA didn’t make sense for me this year. I’m a relatively new private pilot, and I don’t want to deal with the traffic at OSH. I’m planning to stay at Camp Scholler.

I’m most excited about experiencing an event the size of OSH with my son (first time for both of us). The #1 thing we want to see? Airplanes (period). Also looking forward to the daily air shows and just hanging out with like-minded aviation enthusiasts.

Being a first timer, I don’t really know what to expect. I want to see the daily air shows, and I’m sure there will be other “can’t miss” events. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people (one of the reasons we’re staying in Camp Scholler instead of a hotel). Not sure about events or schedule yet, so no real plans to attend parties or after hours events at this time. Not hosting any events … very much an AirVenture newbie and just there to have fun. I am anticipating the coolest aviation event ever. More airplanes in one place than you can imagine.

David Vanderhoof
I am flying into Chicago and some how getting to #OSH probably by rental car. I will love to see Glacier Girl, the P-38E. She was in bits and pieces when I was there in 1992 and she was fresh from the glacier. For me its all about the warbirds! Allisons, Merlins and R-2800s. This time, I will have unlimited amounts of pictures. In ‘92, I went with 40 rolls of 36 exposure and that was a lot. I am sure I will be blowing through 8 gigs plus each day.

I definitely want to see the Centennial of Naval Aviation Interviews at night. I also want to go to the Author’s Corners, and of course want to make sure I see the show every day. This trip is all about social media for me. Air Venture always has been about the exchange of knowledge/reunion. In 1992, when I went I didn’t come back knowing really anymore people than when I left. I am expecting this year to be very different. I’m looking forward to tweetups and meetups and shaking a great number of hands. Last year, I watched jealously as people I interact with over the web were actually sitting down face to face with others.

Oshkosh is a seven-day geekfest. It’s a religious pilgrimage. If you love aviation, aviators, pilots and planes, you must once go to Mecca, otherwise known as Wittman Regional Airport. Once you are there you can realize you aren’t nuts and there are people just like you. Coming back you are changed. It’s overwhelming at first, then you realize you spend less time looking at planes and more time talking to people. I have, over time, always said it was the first air show to ever make me get sick of seeing airplanes.”

Yet I am dying to go back!

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