To Be Fair... It's Just That Kinda Place
by ANN Correspondent Dave Ziegler
If you are passionate about aviation, and the time finally comes
when you're headed to Oshkosh for the very first time, let me tell
you from first hand experience that no amount of planning or
research will prepare you for what awaits. Even the last day found
me gawking like a child with my jaw constantly open in golly-gee
Sure, you know you'll get see tens of thousands of aircraft, but
until you actually gaze down the seemingly endless rows filled with
planes of every size, style, and vintage, you can't possibly
imagine how small those chock-filled ramps and fields will make you
feel. You've most likely heard about how aircraft arrive en masse,
but until you see wave after wave landing in pods of four or five
at a time, you can't possibly imagine their carefully synchronized
ballet or the harmony of their engines.
What happens at AirVenture will stir the soul of any pilot or
aircraft lover, guaranteed. The performers are the best of the
best, and while you're strolling the grounds, looking at the latest
the aviation world has to offer, you'll see them roll, loop, and
tumble. Classic warbirds roar by with a cacophony only producible
by large radial engines, and the newest most
technologically-advanced aircraft shake the ground as they are put
through their paces in front of an enthralled audience.
If you think I am abusing my poetic license to the point where
it should be revoked... you just haven't been there before. I know,
I'm supposed to behave like a professional journalist, but the fact
that I am also a pilot and lover of aviation makes it impossible to
be completely detached or impartial here.
In fact, numerous times I interrupted my writing with a dash
outside to see what just roared by -- not that my editor could
mind, as I recall him speeding away on a golf cart to watch the
C-17 land (that was an "expedited departure," Dave...
Managing Editor's Note)
I knew AirVenture would be incredible, but I didn't realize just
how much I would get to see, learn, and experience. There is no
other place that provides such an opportunity to meet many aviation
greats, from airshow pilots to Air Force veterans, or hear a
favorite aviation author read from their own works. Of course,
there are also the over one thousand forums and workshops, covering
every topic from airspace to welding, and hundreds of exhibitors
showing off their latest products, and the Fly Market where you'll
find the new, the old, and the bizarre for sale.
Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of AirVenture, however,
is the atmosphere. The community that comes together to celebrate
aviation is a friendly, welcoming one, with strangers talking and
laughing with each other like old friends reunited. The mood is
electric and very family-friendly.
The EAA staff is comprised of some of the friendliest and most
helpful volunteers you'll find, and they go out of there way for
those who need help. Both the crowd and staff do an incredible job
of preserving the AirVenture grounds. If a piece of trash made it
anywhere other than the proper receptacle, I have yet to see
To be fair and balanced, there is at least one downside to
AirVenture. The brauts may be some of the best I've had, but you do
pay a premium for them. Not a bad sacrifice to make, however;
considering attending AirVenture is most likely a life-changing
experience, it's a small price to pay.