Airplanista Aviation Magazine - Publisher Dan Pimentel’s Column: How do YOU describe an event as cool as Oshkosh?

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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.

By Dan Pimentel

Recently, I asked what a group of my Twitter followers would tell others about EAA AirVenture, that wonderful, magnificent, incredible event we all commonly refer to affectionately as “Oshkosh”.

How would they describe it, to pilots, and non-pilots. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy the show, you’ll know this is no easy task. It made me think about how I describe Oshkosh.

To non-pilots, I saw this: If you don’t have the passion to fly in your heart like the aviators that go to KOSH each July, you are incapable of imagining what this event is like. Yes, it’s a trade show, but it is THE trade show for general aviation. Sometimes I say it is like Woodstock for pilots, only thankfully without the weed. Or I say it is like the biggest amusement park you have ever been to...only way, way bigger and more exciting.

These non-pilots are never able to fully create a useable visual image of Oshkosh. I say “10,000 airplanes fly in to the show,’ and they say, “oh, you mean, like Cessnas?” It is a waste of time to try and tell them that yes, there ARE plenty of Cessnas, but also row after glorious row of every other model flying, from bizarro experimentals to flying museum pieces.

To pilots though, I take a different approach to describe Oshkosh: Think of the best fly-in you have ever been to, where cool airplanes - shiny new ones and perfectly-restored old ones - are everywhere you look. There are hundreds of pilots and aviation fans eating, drinking, chatting and gawking, and the atmosphere is jovial, uplifting and full of happy people celebrating our freedom to fly.

Now take that vision and multiply it by about 15 gazillion. So many airplanes, they stretch to the horizon. So many wonderful members of the aviation family, it is a non-stop reunion. So much to see and do, you never really know which way to turn for fear of missing something very, very cool. You will walk the exhibits and it will be Christmas morning, with the newest gear and exceptional swag coming at you from every booth. Not kidding about that part. You WILL spend money, it’s guaranteed.

I tell pilots that if they have seen aerobatic acts before, they will be nothing compared to the afternoon air shows at Oshkosh. You will see the best of the best in the air flying maneuvers that will blow your mind. You will see so many gigantic formations of warbirds fly overhead each afternoon, that the sight of 40 P-51 Mustangs wingtip-to-wingtip will seem almost normal. And it is...

Because it’s Oshkosh.

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