Oshkosh Residents, Aviation Invaders Make Deals That Benefit
by ANN Senior Correspondent Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien
"Party tonight at [a vendor's] Osh House!"
"I can't make it -- I'll be in our Osh House writing the
"Hey, the guys at [avionics firm] are looking for a bigger
Do you know about anything?"
"Man, there's tension in our Osh House -- we've got three
sloppy guys and two neatnik girls and if the guys don't start
picking up after themselves, there's gonna be trouble in River
"The couple that own our Osh House are retiring to Florida,
and if we can't find another, we'll be renting an RV next year.
Bummer, indeed. If you keep your ears tuned to "eavesdrop" as
you perambulate the grounds of Airventure 06, you will certainly
hear the term "Osh House" or one of a handful of synonyms. And
behind that term lurks a social phenomenon, and the answer to a
cultural question: "With 12,000 planes and 700,000 people
descending on this pleasant, quiet Midwestern city, where ever do
they stay?" For many, the answer is an OSH house: a temporary
rental for the duration of the show (plus any set-up and break-down
It's a win-win for those Oshkosh citizens who couldn't care less
about aviation, or who value their peace and quiet, and for the
show- goers, exhibitors, vendors and media hordes that descend on
Oshkosh like Alaric and the Visigoths' summer vacation in Rome, or
the plague of locusts' visit to ancient Egypt. The former get a
little rental income while they escape from their routine for a
vacation elsewhere; the latter get a place to stay that is superior
in all ways to an off- site hotel, that offers creature comforts
far beyond a college dorm, and that has all advantages except
location and company over staying in onsite camping.
The house is especially
necessary for us at Aero-News: it is at once residence and newsroom
-- especially when we have technical difficulties with our onsite
newsroom, as sometimes happens. So everything from communal dinners
to podcast production and editorial meetings takes place here.
Indeed, I'm writing this at the kitchen table of our Osh House.
Later I'll ride my bike to the show.
The dynamics of a group living situation are always...
Some are used to it; they were crammed into ships with a cast of
thousands in the Navy, or grew up with a veritable Walton Family of
siblings, and they adapt well. Others have a hard time adapting to
the arrangement. As the show wears on and people burn the candle at
both ends trying not to miss anything. Temperatures rise. Patience
evaporates. Tempers fray.
Adult leadership usually steps in to take control before it
reaches the death threats and object-throwing stage. I don't
believe that the police have ever been called to an Osh House.
How can this look to the remaining burghers of Oshkosh?
It helps that Oshkosh people seem to be deeply steeped in what
can only be described as "Midwestern Nice". It's a personality that
meshes well with the largely heartland-based general aviation
industry, which extends from Cirrus in frosty Duluth, where a state
of the art factory produces the most thoroughly cold-weather tested
airplanes in the world, through Beech and Cessna in Wichita down to
little Taylorcraft in the tip of Texas, where mostly
Mexican-American workers boast to their families about each plane
they complete and ship to a retro-minded flight school or private
We have a good arrangement at Aero-News; we've been the guests
of the same family now for well over a dozen years. We've followed
them across town when they moved around Oshkosh, and we couldn't
have asked for more gracious and kinder hosts.
We've also encountered another side of growth, a potentially
ugly side: what happens if we outgrow the house? We're straining at
the seams here, but we don't want to leave. We love "our" Osh House
(shown proudly above). We've had some good times here with
Aero-News staffers, and guests like Dr. Peter Diamandis.
We've also been approached by another resident who has a house
in a different neighborhood, but near enough to the show.
Listen to the voices of Oshkosh as you walk around (hey, so
that's what "perambulate" means). We bet you'll hear insiders say
"Osh House." When they do, grin your best insider grin.