Part Two Of ANN's Pre-Show Guide To The "World's Greatest
by ANN Correspondent Larry Stencel
As you plan your visit to AirVenture 2008, you're likely
wondering if you should pack your life rafts. Well, don't fret; the
recent Wisconsin flooding is now on the mend. While there have been
nearby areas heavily impacted by abnormal amounts of June rainfall,
the EAA assures us that the Oshkosh airport and air show facilities
are just fine. A check with some of the other local airports yields
similar conditions. Of course, it often rains during AirVenture so
do bring your rain gear. Because of the abundant moisture,
mosquitoes are a problem this year so pack your repellent and
consider bringing some netting and citronella candles if you are
Wisconsin is a state which rarely brings attention to itself...
unless, of course, you're in the habit of measuring its deep winter
snowfalls or low winter temperatures. As a result, Wisconsinites
have above average reasons to celebrate the warm months with all
manner of great outdoor activities. The state prides itself on its
geographical diversity, proper stewardship of its natural resources
and its abundant opportunities for recreation. As one of the
premier summer activities in the state, AirVenture couldn't ask for
a better host location than Oshkosh; there is SO much to do in the
nearby environs or on your way in.
As you prepare for the event, you might want to consider adding
a few hours or days to your travel time and take an opportunity to
smell the proverbial "roses." Whether you drive or fly to the air
show, take some time to experience the 'rest' of Wisconsin. If
you're driving, get off the major highways and take a leisurely
round-a-bout route as you head to Oshkosh.
Likewise, if you are flying in, consider trying the surrounding
local airports. Many pilots have already discovered that staging
from these nearby airports fits their needs better than going into
Oshkosh. Several of them are hosting large gatherings of type
specific airplanes or groups of flyers traveling together. However
you arrive, you'll be glad you gave yourself some extra time as you
head to AirVenture... make your trip a vacation as well as an
OK, Larry, You've Sold Me... So How Do I Get There?
If you're driving in, there are, essentially, only three major
routes to Oshkosh. From the south through Milwaukee and Fond du
lac, limited access US highway 41 passes the Oshkosh airport -- at
exit 116/highway 44 -- as it heads north to/from Appleton and Green
Bay. From the west, Wisconsin Highway 21 -- truckers use it as a
direct shortcut -- comes in from LaCrosse, the junction of
I-90/I-94 and I-39 through Wautoma. Highway 21 is a two lane road
but is the direct route most folks use coming from points west.
There are, however, a myriad of other secondary roadways to get to
Oshkosh. Try some of these routes and you'll have a chance to
experience the true nature of rural central Wisconsin.
Here's a bit of trivia. Did you know that Wisconsin was the
first state to develop the highway numbering system?
A great example of a short back road trip would be a visit to
the AirVenture seaplane base located on Lake Winnebago ESE of
Wittman Field. If you've never seen this absolutely idyllic
location, you don't know what you are missing. You can catch a bus
to it from the convention but it's more fun to just drive in
beforehand. From Fond du lac or Oshkosh, take Highway 45 - Lake
Shore Drive - north or south along the shore of Lake Winnebago and
watch for the EAA seaplane base signs on the east side of the road.
Once you park, you'll walk along a wooded path to the protected
seaplane mooring lagoon. Take a lawn chair and sit on the peninsula
as you watch seaplanes land and taxi in through the isthmus. Food
and drink are usually available and the seaplane folks often host
daytime forums and evening feasts. Did you know that Lake Winnebago
is the second largest freshwater lake in the US?
Here's another fun idea. If you're traveling to Oshkosh from
points in Michigan or the east, consider traveling across Lake
Michigan via car ferries which travel to Manitowoc from Ludington
(the S.S. Badger) and to Milwaukee from Muskegon (the Lake Express,
below). Beyond bypassing the traffic in Chicago, these alternative
ways to Wisconsin are great fun and, with fuel costs rising, the
cost can easily be justified. You may even save time. Both carriers
have excellent Web sites and often offer 'specials.' In Manitowoc,
don't miss seeing the Wisconsin Maritime Museum which showcases the
submarine Cobia (SS-245), representative of the 28 submarines built
there during World War II. Did you know that the S.S. Badger car
ferry is a part of US Highway 10 from Wisconsin to Michigan, and is
the only coal fired steamship in operation in North America?
Coming from the south through Madison? Consider trying the free
Merrimac car ferry -- Colsac III --across the Wisconsin River on
highway 113. Running since 1844, the one mile, 10 minute ferry ride
is a great way to see the 9500 acre lake and the Baraboo bluff area
of Wisconsin. In Baraboo, don't miss the 50 acre Circus World
Museum, a Wisconsin Historical site. Baraboo was the original home
of the Ringling Bros. Circus... as well as the original home of
Cirrus Design during its early, VK-30 days.
Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson just opened a new 130,000 square foot,
$75 million dollar motorcycle museum on July 12, 2008. Any Harley
riding pilots out there? And, on July 26, German Fest 2008 will be
held at the Maier Festival Grounds on the Lake.
It would be tough to cover all of the individual routings or
side points of interest along each of your paths to Oshkosh this
year. Consider your interests, get a good map (or chart) and do
some of your own research. We promise that you won't be sorry if
you take some extra time traveling to Oshkosh this year.
For drivers, you should know that Wisconsin cities are serious
when they post speed limits. If you see a speed limit sign, obey it
exactly... period. Enough said. Second, Wisconsin is a rural state
with a huge population of deer. Be vigilant for these critters.
And, of course, watch out for the unofficial state bird -- the
In the next article of this series, we'll specifically examine
some of the other alternative airports and cities around Oshkosh as
well as making a few recommendations for leisure time activities
See you at Oshkosh.