Your connection with the sky

A Wonderful Week at Oshkosh

What can I say about Oshkosh- the largest airshow in the world? (Although the sponsoring organization, the Experimental Aircraft Association, calls it AirVenture, everyone calls it Oshkosh.)

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First, there were planes, planes and more planes. People come to see the planes, and there were thousands of planes. I heard that over 10,000 planes fly in and during the week it is the busiest airport in the world! Hundreds of RVs (the planes, not the camping vehicles,) hundreds of Cessnas, hundreds of everything, it seemed.

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Second, I have NEVER met such friendly, friendly people. In spite of the sticky heat, (it was hot and humid the entire week) everyone I saw was cheerful. There were long lines waiting for the trams to get from one area to another. - and standing in the hot sun waiting to board wasn't fun. Yet no one griped, sweaty people squeezed together so others could get on board, and folks started up spontaneous conversations.

What was truly amazing to me was that every person I met who was working the show - in the restaurants, in the vendor booths, driving the trams and the busses, cleaning the showers - EVERYONE was cheerful and friendly. In spite of the heat and the humidity.

Third, the place is HUGE. When I went into the city of Oshkosh to do laundry, it took almost 15 minutes of driving to leave the airport grounds! Planes, people, tents and campers everywhere. I frequently took 3 different trams to get where I wanted to go.

Some folks were lucky and had their own airshow-sponsored transportation. I fell in love with the cute VW bugs that seemed to be everywhere. They were painted various bright colors and were assigned to folks who had come long before the show to help set up.

Fourth, although there are some paid folks, the entire event is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. One woman told me that she and her husband had come in early June to help get everything ready in the ultralight area, and didn't expect to leave until mid-August, helping break down and clean up. They were there on a purely volunteer basis, and also paid for all their own expenses.

Fifth, the weather was immaterial. People were there to enjoy themselves. The heat and humidity were almost overwhelming, but people were happy. Even red-faced toddlers getting pulled around by their parents weren’t crying or cranky. Even the pouring rain that began early Wednesday morning, the third day of the show, didn’t dampen people’s spirits. People put on all sorts of rain gear (including garbage bags,) and continued looking at the planes, the vendor booths, and everything else. People stood under the planes' wings to talk and share experiences.

Saturday afternoon, July 30, was horrible - a "straight line wind" (Wisconsin/Minnesota language) whipped up suddenly. I don't know how fast the winds were going - best guess is about 60-70 mph. (North of Oshkosh the winds were clocked @ 100 mph.) In the ultralight area it was a disaster. Five planes were almost totally destroyed. People grabbed for whatever plane they were standing by, holding them down - even though virtually all were already tied down. I saw a Casperwing go cartwheeling, and two Quicksilver MXs were sadly broken. Then it was over, and everyone pitched in to do whatever needed to be done.

What else can I say about Oshkosh itself? The daily airshows were spectacular and there were several concerts. The last night (Saturday) there were TWO airshows - the usual afternoon one and then a night one, where the planes looked like meteors streaming fireworks. Absolutely incredibly beautiful. I spent most of the show like everyone else - walking, gawking, and talking.

Sunday morning (July 31) we did some final flight planning. Our time at the biggest airshow was over, and we needed to get on our way home.

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