Oshkosh, Inbound

12:22 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor 

I have just arrived at the United gate in Eugene ready to blast off to the big summer aviation family reunion called AirVenture to some, but Oshkosh to me. To get right here, right now, only minutes from riding a series of pressurized tubes eastbound, I reflect on the last week, which to me and all #Avgeeks is the most excruciating week of the year.

The past seven days has delivered an #OSH16 Twitter feed that slowly ramped up in intensity. First, you start to see people claiming their camp spots in Scholler. Next, you see people full-on stoked because the Oshkosh webcams have come online. But these are but precursors to what lie ahead.

The first images to usually come out of Oshkosh are of an empty North 40, but soon you see one airplane, and then two. Photos of a tent, and then 10 tents, appear on people's feeds. Before long, the mass arrivals start to pour in, and the North 40 starts becoming populated. And with every arrival - when viewing it all through the lens of Twitter from 2,300nm away - my internal excitement needle keeps rising towards the red zone with each new tweet. 

Now, less than 24 hours from departure, I begin watching the tweets talking about the WX, and making sure my Storm app is operational to look at NEXRAD radar. It already is shaping up to be an "interesting" show in this regard, as heavy WX Saturday kept plenty of inbounds grounded in cheap motels somewhere in the square states. I am reading about campers sleeping in "six inches of water" inside their tents, but as I know this crowd very well, that was not meant to be a complaint. It's all part of the "Oshkosh Experience."

As I fly commercial to Oshkosh, the eastbound journey this time of year can be tricky. But so far, my inbound trek has gone smoothly. The first pressurized tube out of Eugene was one of United's new A320s that have replaced much of their CRJ fleet there. But this -320 was super groovy! A brand-new plane painted in a vintage United "Friend Ship" livery right out of the 1960s. It was not hard to imagine flying the friendly skies in one of their 707s as a kid on the Fresno-SFO-Seattle route I flew often. Kudos to United for giving KEUG a significant airliner upgrade. 

As I write this - somewhere over Nebraska at FL 370, I am inbound to ORD to catch my last pressurized tube up to Appleton where I will meet up with some #avgeek friends who offered to pick me up there. That last hop northbound over Wisconsin is always the toughest because no matter how hard I wish for it, getting through O'Hare en route to Oshkosh is rife with trouble. It's as if there is a curse on me there each year on this trip. 

Soon I will be wheels down at KATW and possibly racing towards my mandatory first stop in Oshkosh, Ardy and Ed's Drive-in. And the next four days will be completely unbelievable, seeing all my #avgeek family again and being surrounded by the luscious sounds of airplanes. Yes it will be hot and humid, and yes, it will rain, usually very, very hard. But in my world, this is the best place on Earth to be this week,  and nothing stands between me and a good time. 

Bring it. 

Watch Airplanista this week for my "sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, always unpredictable" coverage of the show. Between my posts will be content from Glen Towler, Airplanista's "International Correspondent" this year. Glen flew a total of 8,861nm from Wellington, New Zealand to be here with us, and I can't wait to see Oshkosh from his perspective. 

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