EAA AirVenture Oshkosh: An experience of a lifetime

“The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” is starting in three days and for the first time in three years, I won’t be there.  If I said I wasn’t a little heartbroken, I’d be lying.  This year at work has been insane. It is so incredibly busy right now that I am not able to join in on the company’s annual trek to Oshkosh. I have been very blessed the past three years to fly out to Oshkosh and work half days in the company booth and spend the rest of my time roaming, learning, and exploring all that EAA AirVenture has to offer. Have you even been? You should. It’s an experience unlike any other, and if you aren’t an aviation lover, it will make you one.

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“Oshkosh”, “EAA”,” AirVenture.” We call it so many different names but they all share the same uncontainable excitement for the annual event that we count down to all year long. AirVenture takes place the last week of July every summer at the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI. They say it becomes the busiest airport in the world that week with more than 10,000 aircraft flying in. You could be there all day, every day of the week and still never get to everything. It is overwhelming in the most magical way.

 

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Working our booth!

 

The past three years that I have gone, I have gone with the incredible company I work for. We take the Citation out there, rent a house, work the booth, and live in a pilot’s heaven for a week.  My days typically looked as follows:

6 am:  Wake up, Get Ready.

7 am: Out the Door

7:30 am: Breakfast

8:30 am: Head to EAA AirVenture

9 am – 1 pm: Work the booth

1pm – 5pm: EXPLORE

5:30 pm -7:30 pm: Dinner – the local bars in the neighborhoods are the best!

7:30 pm – ?: Return for a night program, relax by the lake, plan for the next day.

My shifts varied between morning and noon.  Each one has its perks. The morning is typically cooler and more comfortable for exploring. The afternoon has the airshow.

To be honest, I would love to experience flying in and camping next to the airplane, or even rent a trailer/RV and camp onsite. There is so much going on in the evenings, but when you’ve been running all day and you get back to your house, a 20-minute drive away, it’s tempting to relax by the lake with a cold one and share stories with your coworkers. If I was on site, I could relax nearby, visiting with other happy campers, sharing food, drink, and story, and then easily head back out for more Airventure!

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What are some of the things I do in my free time when I’m not working the booth?

Other than trying to lay my eyes on as many aircraft as possible, I also love the additional experiences Oshkosh has to offer. Just to name a few…Workshops, Forums, Demos, Exhibit Halls, etc., etc., etc.,

There are countless hands on workshops to gain knowledge and experience that will be helpful to kit builders as well as anyone that it interested. I make it a point to head to the wood workshop and make my annual wing rib. There are also workshops on welding, composites, metal, and so many more skills you can learn while you are there.

When it’s hotter than Hades outside and you’ve been walking for hours, Forums are a great resource for rest and recharging while still taking in a new experience. I won’t even begin to try to name the range of forum topics that are offered. I’ll let you look it up here, I promise you’ll find one that interests you.

The grounds are broken up into different themed areas such as Warbird Alley, Vintage, Homebuilt, Workshops & Forums, Ultralights, Fly Market, Exhibit Hall, Sea Plane Base and more. There is so much to see, and never enough time!

Something that is hard to put into words is the level of comradery that exists at Oshkosh. So many folks, gathered in one place, sharing their infectious passion for aviation. You meet the most incredible people, hear stories that no one could write, and make memories that will stay with you forever. I will miss Oshkosh so much this year but will make next year all the more better.

 

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Flying the Citation out to Oshkosh with my favorite CFI!

 

There will never be enough time to write all that there is to EAA AirVenture. Below is a video I compiled of last years’ experience. I’ve never made a video before, so it’s a little shaky but it gives you a glimpse into the world of Oshkosh. Share your stories in the comments below. Will you be there this year?

 

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