An AirVenturous Day

The end of July is always an exciting time for aviation enthusiasts around the world. For one week a small town of Oshkosh in Wisconsin (pretty much the middle of nowhere for those not familiar) plays host to AirVenture - an event that is hard to describe or categorize in a few words. It is a gathering, a fly-in, an air show, a trade show, a meet up, a camping ground (for both RVs and aircraft), a forum for countless presentations, workshops, and speakers, and many other things. The Experimental Aircraft Association that organizes this event rightfully calls it a 'celebration' of anything and everything in aviation.

This year over 400,000 just over 500,000 people attended the event (and that's down compared to last year!), over 10,000 aircraft flew in, and over 800 exhibitors touted their wares and myriad of new products at their displays and booths.

Flying to Oshkosh is considered a right of passage of sorts for many aviators as the Wittman Field becomes the world's busiest airport. To accomodate all of those arriving aircraft, taxiways transform into additional temporary runways and the long runways get marked with different colored 'dots' so that up to three aircraft could be landed on the same runway AT THE SAME TIME (each on it's assigned dot).

Check out this video produced by Sporty's capturing the craziness of flying into Oshkosh during AirVenture. Skip to the beginning of 7th minute for the landing.

By the number of aircraft being handled at any given time, Oshkosh is busier than Atlanta, Chicago, London, Hong Kong or any other airport out there. In fact, it is so busy, that pilots are instructed NOT to read back air traffic controller instructions but rather 'vigorously rock' their wings to acknowledge them (there is simply no time for read backs).

I am really looking forward to the day I fly into there myself!

But until then, I will just visit.

Like I did this time.

It was actually my second visit, first being a few years ago when we drove up from Cedar Rapids and spent all day there on Saturday followed by overnight camping and water park adventures in Wisconsin Dells the next day. Back then, it felt like we were running around the place like the chickens with our heads cut off, trying to see different airplanes, products, and performances.

This time, I could only make it on Sunday - the last day. Even thought it is traditionally a family day with kids under 18 getting in for free, the grounds looked deserted for the most part of the day. Many of the exhibitors started packing up in the morning with many aircraft leaving in the morning as well before the forecasted afternoon rains. Lesson for the future - try to get in there before the last day (and stay for at least a couple of days)!

I found myself spending most of the time catching up with a few folks I knew that were exhibiting at the show rather than mindlessly wondering around and peaking in the cockpits of parked aircraft.

A personal highlight for me was seeing the modified PC-12 aircraft with the Garmin G600 system replacing the antiquated round dials. I worked on this project from its inception until leaving for my round-the-world trip so it was nice to see how it turned out.

There were not many forums going on the last day, but I did attend the EAA presentation on homebuilding your own aircraft. For their 40 year anniversary, Van's Aircraft introduced a new kit for RV-14, a two seater airplane that claims to be good for both fun flying and aerobatics as well as for cross country flying. The two usually do not mix well, but Van's is one company that could pull something like that off.


Building (and flying!) my own aircraft is something that is also on my bucket list but right now I am consciously not pursuing this endavour as it would easily require a good couple years worth of effort - the years I would have to spend in one place working on it, rather than traveling and doing all other sorts of fun things.

The closing air show lasted for a couple of hours and was pretty good, although nothing in comparison to the Saturday's night show from what we were told. I was trying out a new camera and unfortunately it turned out to be a poor choice for capturing the performances so in the end I only had a few good pictures from the air show.