Winning Essays from Airplanista’s “For the Love of OSH” Essay Competition (Third Place)

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This post continues a seven-part series featuring the essays submitted by the seven finalists from our just-concluded Essay Competition at #Oshbash 2019. I will continue to post additional essays in the coming days/weeks - dan

X-Plane 11 Third Place Prize: Dennis Webb

Who would have ever imagined that something that started in 1953 would grow into an international phenomenon that attracts over 600,000 people each year spreading over 1,400 acres? Nothing compares to being in Oshkosh, Wis., in July.

For me, attending this annual general aviation celebration is a one-of-a-kind event. Each year, I have the opportunity to share a common bond with others who have the same passion and love for aviation. I started attending AirVenture decades ago as a new pilot and experienced the magic of this special event. Since I’ve attended AirVenture for so long, I see people whom I met years ago who I now consider dear friends. And while we endure hot temperatures, unfortunate sunburn, and inevitable thunderstorms, we also enthusiastically swap stories about airplanes, flying adventures and the industry’s future technologies.

As an engineer, pilot and aviation nerd, I get excited to see the amazing advances in GA planes, engines and components that are showcased annually at AirVenture. Attending workshops and walking around the hangars and outdoor exhibits lets me see the direction the industry is moving. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I equally enjoy the various airshows. Seeing a warbird in a museum is powerful and even a bit emotional knowing the history behind these planes, but to experience it with all of the senses is nothing short of awe-inspiring. There is nothing quite like the sound of a World War II era roaring through the skies! There is also the Navy’s Blue Angels whose legendary airshow always astounds and captivates me. And while the power of military aircraft is extraordinary, I have spent many hours also entertained by the ultralights and powered parachutes circling the pattern.

Critical to me is ensuring the industry’s growth and future and the role AirVenture plays in this. I am astounded by the organizers’ ability to plan something for everyone – important education forums, hands-on learning for younger generations and entertainment options that range from renowned aviation speakers to women-focused events to evening concerts featuring national bands. This speaks volumes in realizing what it will take to guarantee general aviation’s viability with younger people, particularly since the majority of those attending AirVenture are over 50-years-old.

I still remember a conversation from about 10 years ago with a non-flying friend attending AirVenture. It was in the middle of the economic downturn. He observed for a while, then said, “Don’t these people get it? There is a recession going on! They look happy, they are buying, what’s going on??!”

“Yes, they certainly do get it. Here is what you don’t get,” I told him. “It’s called passion, and that is what all aviators have in common.”

 AirVenture Oshkosh means perpetuating a common vision of maintaining the legacy of aviation for generations to come. It’s a place to share the passion of aviation with others who view it the same way. There would be a void in general aviation without EAA and AirVenture. Whether someone has been attending for countless years like me or is an AirVenture novice, the spirit, passion and adventure truly resonate throughout the grounds.

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