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Decades of ANN Coverage: Fond Memories Of The Soul Of Oshkosh 2009

From Oshkosh 2009 -- A Morning Walk To Soak In AirVenture's Magic

By Robbie Culver

The grass in the Red lot is still soaked, sun streaming across the North 40 reflecting on row upon endless row of wings. A beautiful sight as I begin the slow, easy trek across the AirVenture grounds to Aero-News headquarters by the control tower. The gate guard by the road to the warbirds area greets me with a raised mug of coffee, and we banter back and forth as I amble by, in no particular hurry to get to anyplace in particular for any reason at all.

It's Oshkosh, and I am soaking it all in and putting it away for that night in January when it is 20 below zero and I am convinced life as we know it ceases to exist. That night, I will think of Oshkosh. I will think of this walk in particular, and all the work and dreaming that went into taking it. My insanity of parking in the far corner of the lot is actually well-planned.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is huge. Where I parked, in the far northwest corner of the Red lot, it's a good 15 minute walk into "work" on the convention grounds. It is the walk in that is the whole point - but first, I wander over to the north 40 to greet friends and beg some morning java. The tents ripple softly in the morning air, and somewhere down the rows someone is starting a Cessna. It's barely 7:30 am and Airventure is alive. I can feel its soul around me.

The soul of Oshkosh. Many words have been written about the soul of Oshkosh, or the heart of aviation, or what it is that makes this event so special. The show itself is so saturated with media and cameras that no thing escapes attention. Except the heart and soul of Oshkosh, which is in itself undescribable.

The soul was all around me under the wing of a Cessna as I shared a steaming cup of coffee. It's sitting there, under the wing of "Duggy" as the airshow begins. Standing in line for ice cream along the edge of the flight line. Wandering the aisles of the vendor buildings. Pitching a tent in the "North 40" after arriving, tossing back a cold one with friends old and new. Relaxing with some popcorn and lemonade on the porch of the red barn. The heart and soul of Oshkosh is the people.

Among 10,000 aircraft, it is the individual friends and fellow aviation addicts that you meet while wandering the grounds of Wittman field which resonate on days when flying seems far away. We gather together, no longer so much to see the things we find here so much as to find one another among the things we see. And each year, we meet more that amaze us for their warmth and generosity among what seems to be strangers, instead turning out to be friends we had not yet met.


Helen Medicott Talks with "Junior" of EAA Security

As the afternoon shadows creep out of the trees, across the road, and onto the Vintage flightline, and the air show roars and shrieks its way into a smoky rage, look around and capture that moment in your heart; lock it away. Oshkosh. The sights of aviation, the sounds of engines and propellers, the smell of oil and smoke, the roiling shriek of freedom.

It's the rumbling sounds of a P-51 Mustang's Merlin rasping down the runway, formations of T-28's roar overhead, and squadron's of homebuilt RV's soar past. Our eyes reflect the spirit and the magic that we share as we sit among our friends and new-found family. A sea of humanity wandering through the experience we call Oshkosh. Close your eyes and you can hear it - the unmistakable sounds of freedom and forever echo across Wittman field.

As I walk, the road is still slightly muddy from last evening's spectacular storms. Inevitable in Oshkosh - the weather will always show who really controls things and she leaves no doubt of that. If you're camping this morning, you are now officially an Oshkosh survivor and have earned a dry tee shirt, new tennis shoes with insole comforters, and absorbent socks.

I reach the road in - Knapp Street Road if you're following along at home - and turn right to head south into the show proper. The Tri-Motor departs 36 in a hard right turn, as two RV's depart 27 behind me in formation. Over my right shoulder the Bell 47 is slapping its way through the morning air. Vendors are just opening their tents as I pass, and greetings pass between us as I walk. The crowd is almost non-existent at this hour, and the road is empty enough for me to walk on without risking life and limb for it - Red Two goes past with Tom Poberezny inside, waving. An hour from now walking in the road would be a bad idea, but right now it is foot therapy I'll need later in the day.

A few more cars roll by, headed for the same area of frantic activity I am - press headquarters and the insanity adjacent to it. Good thing I stopped for coffee. One last moment of calm collected peace in the morning air, then the day begins. It's Oshkosh!




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