Today marks the midpoint of AirVenture 2015, the world's largest fly-in. It's sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) each year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. What started as a small convention of flying enthusiasts at the Milwaukee airport in 1953 has grown into a world-class gathering that addresses virtually any aviation topic. In the decade before retiring, I had the privilege of working in the Federal Pavilion of five AirVentures beginning in 1999. Some may interpret that as overkill, but each one left me thrilled at the thought of returning for another event. And you may ask why the National Park Service would send a dozen or so employees and volunteers to work an airplane show. First, the agency has around forty out of 400 units with a significant link to an aviation theme. In addition, the Service maintains a fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft contributing over 20,000 hours of flight time annually in support of park operations, maintenance, and resource management. Add to that the interagency cooperation as well as airspace regulation over the parks and I think you can see the point. Regardless, it's a grand - demanding - opportunity to distribute information and talk face-to-face with thousands of guests.
The Federal Pavilion usually attracts a bit over 10% of the 600,000 people who attend the week-long event. It's just one in a score of special exhibits on the site. When you add the 7500 aircraft tied down at the fly-in campgrounds, 2500 additional aircraft exhibits, 800 commercial exhibitors, and daily world-class airshows you can see where it becomes a festival for people who are simply "plane" crazy.
|EAA AirVenture map for the 2011 event|
Here is a 90-minute video of the event from last year. It opens with the general aviation arrivals. The airshow portion begins at 24:00.
Nothing can replace being at Oshkosh. Fortunately, if you can't attend, the EAA maintains a comprehensive up to the second website where you can spend hours reading, watching and listening to the day's/week's events.
I hope to return again strictly as a guest and will gladly keep those 18-hour days as a fond memory. Maybe I'll see you there. In the meantime, "Wheels up!"