The Hardest 11 Days of the Year

4:40 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
There are 51 weeks between each EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, but these next two (technically just 11 days) are the hardest, most excruciating of them all. That’s because everything for my trip to the World’s Largest Aviation Celebration has been planned, I am starting to put together my gear, and most importantly…
I know what’s coming.
I have just finished scoring all of the essays that were submitted for Airplanista’s “For the Love of OSH” Essay Competition, and the passion for this event was evident in all of them. Everyone that submitted has been to this extraordinary show before, and that is the only way to fully understand why ‘Oshkosh’ is such a mandatory adventure for me each year.

What’s coming is many things, all glorious. I will name just a few:

I will see acres of airplanes of every shape and size imaginable. And not just a few, some types have hundreds. But the very rare birds – mostly found in Vintage – are really my starting point in this thought. If you see one Beech Model 17 Staggarwing, it is a fantastic sight. But to see three, five, maybe eight of them parked side-by-side is jaw dropping. You cannot name a make/model that is not fully represented at this show.

I will be sure to have several “Oshkosh moments” that cannot happen anywhere else. You’ll be riding on the tram and the guy next to you asks what you fly. After I answer, I ask “and you?” He tells me he flew in one of the few Fieseler Fi 156 Storch World War II German liaison aircraft still flying. Where else does that happen?
Only at Oshkosh.

You expect that sometime during the week, you will strike up a random conversation with a stranger, and become mesmerized. Once I was sitting at the University of Wisconsin’s Blackhawk Commons breakfast buffet, and asked a woman with a spare seat at her table if I could join her. Of course the answer was yes. And of course, the same “what do you fly?” question was asked. She proceeded to tell me she flew in a Howard 500, one of the rarest and most impressive vintage business aircraft ever made. Over endless pancakes and bacon, she proceeded to tell me everything I could ever want to know about buying, restoring, owning and flying a Howard 500.

I expect that at some point in the week, I will end up over at Ardy and Ed’s Drive-in for my usual Drive-in Double (beef AND bratwurst patties), fries and a Black Cow. And I can be assured that no matter what day or time we pull into the lot, I will spot 10 or 20 of my favorite #avgeeks that have escaped from Camp Bacon. We will enjoy our meal under the approach end to runway 27, and if the field is landing two-seven, we will be serenaded by the beautiful noise of countless airplanes on final approach loping by overhead. It might be a flight of two RV-8s, or some vintage biplane. It might be EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” or a Pilatus PC-12. The moment might also be punctuated by the high-pitched whine of expensive jet engines as a Gulfstream or Citation slips through the air right above our heads. No matter what the make/model is, the food always tastes better with landing traffic almost parting our hair.

I could go on for hours, but you get the point. These next two weeks – oh-kay, 11 days – before my scheduled July 19th departure will be tough, but this is not my first Oshkosh rodeo. Before I know it, I will be wheels up at KEUG via United Airlines, with a few short hops in the flight levels between me and a week of aviation bliss.

Bring it on, I am more than ready this year.

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