I assume you are an aviation enthusiast. Why else would you be on this site? So, that means I can assume you have heard about Oshkosh and the Experimental Aviation Association’s (EAA) annual convention known around the world as Airventure. But I can’t assume you’ve actually attended what is billed as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”
If you’ve never attended Airventure … and that group included me until last year … this message is for you. “GO !” Act quickly. It runs July 23-29, this year.
I kept putting off any effort to get to Oshkosh for decades. I heard it was about people who build their own airplanes and it was about all the stuff you need to know to build your own airplane. But that kind of thinking is like saying Best Buy is just for people who want to buy a TV. Somehow, though, Oshkosh got on my bucket list because of my interest in flying. I wasn’t a pilot, but my dad had a private pilot certificate. When I was a kid (fifty years ago) his friends would take me up in their planes for an opportunity to take the stick. Oh, yes, I liked it. But I couldn’t afford lessons at the time. Then came the responsibilities of life, and I hid my desire to fly. Until last year. That’s when my wife said “GO !”
To put the experience in perspective, I also thought I liked the ocean. I grew up inland, far from the sea, watching movies about ships and surfing. But there is nothing that roused my senses like the day I found myself standing on a rocky shore with an active ocean throwing waves that thundered into the solid earth I was standing on. The earth shuddered with every pounding wave. It was exciting, and I felt the water massaging my legs up to my knees.
For me, the experience of going to Oshkosh for Airventure last year was just like the day I met the ocean’s power. Nobody can tell you enough to enable you to develop your own emotional reaction to Oshkosh. You’ve got to be there.
To encourage you to go, I must tell you that I learned how the week of Airventure is much more than a bunch of enthusiasts gathering to talk about home-built airplanes. Imagine over half-a-million people, and over 10,000 aircraft showing up for this event. If you want to know what that looks like from outer space, check out GoogleMaps. Their image for Oshkosh was taken during Airventure 2011. You can find it here: Just zoom in and start counting the planes and people.
When you go to Airventure, you will find model airplanes, ultralight planes, home-built planes, commercially built planes, special acrobatic planes, military warbirds, and new planes presenting some of the most recent developments in airplane design and construction. There are exhibit booths presenting information on everything flight related. Lectures and workshops abound and take dozens of pages to list in fine print in the directory. And there is a terrific airshow every afternoon.
Keep in mind how EAA has been a strong voice in developing and protecting general aviation in the United States and around the world. In fact, if it weren’t for EAA and AOPA (Airplane Owners and Pilots Association) there wouldn’t be a voice to represent the average pilot in government affairs. These organizations help promote advances and discoveries made by home-builders, and get them incorporated into many of the planes being built today, Like the Boeing Dreamliner 787.
And one more point worth making is that by attending Airventure, you get the chance to hear lectures by the movers-and-shakers in aviation history. You also get the chance to talk with them one-on-one. (I got that experience with Dick Rutan! And, remarkably, he started the conversation.) This is a friendly group of aviation enthusiasts.
If you live in the Midwest, it’s not too late to plan a one day trip to this event if you can leave early in the morning and drive home late that night. Most of the motels have been booked since last year. Still, many people commute for a one-day visit from the Chicago area and anywhere else within reach.
If you live too far away to live this experience this year, now is the time to begin planning your trip for next year. (I’ll be booking my evenings in a motel in Appleton, a larger town with more hotels just 20-minutes north of Oshkosh. You might start with that thought in mind.)
So, I say “Go !”
Still need more convincing? Take a couple of minutes to watch this: http://bcove.me/gkhcxiju I recommend setting your computer to full screen, full volume. Seat belt snug, and tray table locked!
Okay, now are you ready to Go ?
Guest blogger, Jim Stone, is 67 years old and started taking flight instruction shortly after his first visit to Oshkosh Airventure last year. He now has a little over 60 hours of exciting flight instruction and completed his first solo flight just recently out of Chicago Executive Airport.