Oshkosh from 1,483NM away – You never forget your first [Airventure]

5:19 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

You can always tell the ‘Oshkosh’ noobs as they walk in the gates of their very first EAA Airventure show. Arms loaded with gear, wearing the prerequisite shorts, favorite t-shirt, hat, sunglasses and fanny pack (with water bottle or Camelback), they take about five steps into the show, stop, look around, and are instantly blown away. That’s because spread out before them is a wonderland of aviation goodness so vast that their brain cannot possible get wrapped around everything within eyesight.

There are outdoor booths as far as the eye can see. Vendors selling stuff they HAVE to buy…literally everywhere you turn. These first-timers turn left, take a few steps towards the Cirrus booth, and then get immediately distracted and turn right, off to chase down something else equally cool. As their eyes focus on more and more of this endless circus called “the world’s largest aviation celebration,” the day soon turns the brain to mush as it approaches overload status before you can even hit Conoco-Phillips Plaza or step inside the four gigantuan sales hangers.

Your first visit to EAA Airventure Oshkosh will never be your last. If you’re a pilot, student pilot, or just like airplanes, this show will be so over the top, you will forever be programmed to make this required pilgrimage back to Wisconsin every summer for the rest of your life. You will schedule the birth of your future children by doing the math to be sure and not conceive any offspring that might be due in late July.

One such first-timer from Maine, Ben Davison – who tweets as @Bendrt and writes the Clear of Clouds blog – did a superb job of describing his Opening Day at the show:
“This is my first Oshkosh ever and it is completely overwhelming. I got to the campsite last night and just walked around for hours. I really do think that Camp Scholler has a larger population than my hometown in Maine. The homebuilt flight line is, of course, massive. I can really only compare this to Sun ‘n Fun, but this is mega huge compared to that. The warbirds section is like the set of an epic WWII film with all the restored fighters, bombers, and freighters. I suspect there are more generators per square mile here than anywhere else on earth. The display plaza, with all the vendors, is somewhere that I could go broke in seconds flat. It is truly an overwhelming, awe-inspiring place to be. For an aviation enthusiast like me this is paradise.”
I have been to six Airventures, but always laugh when I think about my very first day of my very first visit:
Like the “noob” mentioned at the start of this post, I too was overwhelmed as I hit the show for the first time. I have just bought my first professional digital camera, and loaded with CF cards, I became immediately lost in photography from the minute my feet touched the hallowed EAA grounds. I wandered through the outdoor airplane exhibits, and the four large hangars full of vendors. I then strolled through what was then Aeroshell Square, quickly filling up my camera’s memory cards. Continuing east, I hit Flight Line Road and turned right, towards the vintage and homebuilt parking areas. I wandered towards the South 40, losing complete track of time, until the afternoon air show, when I watched the best acts on the planet bring their “A” game to the box. When it was over, I was wasted from the sun, and thinking I had seen it all, aimed my rental car for the hotel with the A/C at max to try and recover from the blazing sun and Wisconsin’s famous “deathly hallows” humidity. I thought I had seen the whole show, and was overwhelmed with its massive nature. So you can imagine my surprise on Day Two when I again hit Flight Line Road but turned LEFT, and found the warbirds and experimentals areas, and also the North 40 parking area. What I thought was the biggest aviation show on Earth just DOUBLED in size, and it started to sink in that this place was far more than cool…it was purely magical.   
Thomson Meeks saw this woman
carrying a Cessna spinner in the
lunch line and posted that you
only see this kind of thing at Oshkosh.
One thing I love to see is fresh young pilots coming to Oshkosh for the first time. It helps give us hope for the future of GA. One of these new visitors is Thomson Meeks out of Asheville, NC. He said:
“It's my first time at Oshkosh, and what has surprised me is how huge this place is! I've been using x-plane for a few years and jumped on the chance of working in their booth. We're having a great time but the heat is crazy here. Really love that everyone has been very nice here.” If you go here and see some of the Meeks family photos, you get a really good sense of just how much fun this trip is for anyone who loves airplanes.
I’m writing these posts this week from 1,483NM away from KOSH, as I am not making the scene due to some important summer family obligations. Another show veteran who will have to miss the circus is AOPA’s Jill Tallman – their Technical Editor for AOPA Flight Training Magazine – who is stuck at KFDK while the rest of TeamAOPA is at the show:
“I'm helping to hold down the fort at our Frederick, Maryland, headquarters. I've been fortunate enough to go to AirVenture on several occasions. What I will miss is the first day you arrive on the grounds and you're surrounded by airplanes and kindred souls. I will miss meeting AOPA members and, with the advent of Twitter, the opportunity to meet folks I know via social media,” Jill said. She wanted me to remind you to find the latest news on AOPA Online and video highlights on AOPA Live.
Jill’s mention of social media is really important in this conversation about Oshkosh because it is what's making the past few Airventures so much fun for the #avgeeks in my aviation family. If you (a) like airplanes, (b) are going to the show, and (c) want to hang out with a bunch of very cool people, search Twitter for #OSH12, look for @Airpigz, @Adamcanfly, @PilotConway, @rodrakic, @wiredforflight, @BradKoehn, @DaveFlys, @GirlsWithWings or @mike_miley, hit them up with a tweet and ask them where the #avgeek party is. I can promise you a good time, lots of “kindred souls” to talk airplanes with, possibly some great bacon, and it’s going to be a sure bet that you can probably get those nagging questions answered about how to use all your electronic gadgets that refuse to cooperate.

You Might Also Like