Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A day at Airventure

Although we landed at OSH on our trip around Lake Michigan last summer, attending Airventure was still on my to-do list. I hope to go every year but limited vacation time and other priorities (wedding planning right now, for example) always seem to conspire to prevent such a trip. I lucked out about a month ago when I realized I could book a dirt-cheap airfare to Milwaukee and drive up for the day. So, even if only for one afternoon and evening, I was finally going to join the throngs of aviation fanatics who make the pilgrimage to Oshkosh every summer!

I left the house at 4:30 am Friday morning for my flight out of Dayton that departed at 5:45. While I'm definitely not a morning person, I can make the occasional aviation exception. The flight from Dayton to Detroit was interesting - we deviated around some pretty heavy thunderstorms and I saw more lighting from my window seat on the CRJ than I've ever seen from the air before. We only hit one really good bump and arrived in Detroit on time. I grabbed breakfast and then boarded my flight to Milwaukee. The sky cleared somewhere between Detroit and Lansing and I had a great view of the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline as we passed south of Holland.

Lightning on the flight from DAY to DTW

Thanks to carrying nothing more than a backpack, I went straight from the gate to the parking garage and picked up my rental car. I lucked out here and snagged a brand-new Impala. While I don't love Impalas, a loaded one with four (yes, four) miles on the odometer is hard to pass up. There was a little traffic getting out of Milwaukee but then things cleared until I was about 15 miles away from Oshkosh. Due to construction and Airventure I knew it would back up, so I exited early and zoomed up a side road to beat the traffic. I was parked and walking towards the airport just a few minutes before noon.

From that point on I took a bunch of photos, which I have posted below in chronological order. I'll let you skim through these and read their descriptions. Then I'll share some thoughts down at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

Parked on the grounds, staring at EAA HQ, and ready for Airventure!

Pioneer Airport, also home to Kidventure this week

EAA's Bell 47 was giving helicopter rides

The old...

...and the new

While glass panels in a Cub are so very wrong, I'd still be happy to own one! :-)

The F-16 that overran the runway earlier in the week

EAA's Ford Trimotor was also busy giving rides all day

Bob Hoover himself - need I say more?!

Listening to Bob Hoover tell war stories = indescribably awesome

The famous brown arch

A cooler stroller does not exist in this world of ours

A very cool-looking F-18 painted in a special scheme

I was lucky - this is the only day the Dreamliner was at Oshkosh!

People waited in line for hours to climb aboard the 787

The 787 uses all-LED anti-collision lights

Love that there's duct tape on the landing gear strut!

My best friend Rob wanted lots of photos of this Hornet - I happily obliged...

US Navy Heritage Flight

Ariel Tweto from Flying Wild Alaska!

Staring back at the Dreamliner's nose

Side angle of the Hornet with the great tri-tone paint job

People were hiding under whatever wings they could find all day for shade

At one point during the airshow, I counted 39 airplanes flying in loose formation!

The Trojan Horsemen make their signature break to end their show

FIFI, the world's only flying B-29 Superfortress, makes a pass along the crowd line

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner begins its takeoff roll

Rotating off the runway after a day in Oshkosh for the 787's public debut

Springing off Runway 36, the Dreamliner says goodbye to the crowd

FIFI getting towed back in after flying in the airshow

The crowd quickly gathered again as soon as she pulled back into the plaza

Hard to believe she's the only B-29 left flying... but what a beautiful example she is!

Just a shot of the grounds - lots and lots of airplanes out there

Best. Prop Card. Ever. (click to see the larger size)
I love Cessna 195s

Talk about an impeccably beautiful Stearman!

Towing a Navy E-2C back to the plaza

Burt Rutan's famous Boomerang

This Hornet flew in the Heritage Flight

One final shot of this F-18's awesome paint job

Sully and Jeff!

The world's busiest control tower (for this week, at least)

Leaving the grounds as the sun was setting

Hanging out at the Fly-In Theater, waiting to watch Apollo 13

For only having a single day what is probably the greatest aviation gathering on the planet, I had a great time. I listened to Bob Hoover tell war stories for an hour! That sentence explains itself but I should note that it was the second bucket list item to get crossed off this month, after seeing the Space Shuttle launch in early July. I finally got to meet up with Victoria (we missed her and her boyfriend Bob during the Shuttle launch) and chat with some other folks I know. We stood in line chatting for a little while and then got to meet the cast from Flying Wild Alaska!

While I didn't get to climb on board, I saw Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner up-close for the first time. The airshow was pretty good, too. After dinner from one of the concession stands, I wandered around and took some more photos. I saw Sully and Jeff of the Miracle on the Hudson ditching fame. Then I finally left the main grounds and headed over to the Fly-In Theater, where George Lucas himself premiered the trailer for his new movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails. Finally, I hung around the theater and enjoyed the free popcorn while watching Apollo 13.

It's awesome how many famous (at least to us aviators) people you meet, run into, or see walking around the grounds at Oshkosh. Having now spent a day there I really can affirm how special a place Airventure is for anyone who is interested in aviation. If you haven't had a chance to attend I hope you get an opportunity in the future. As for myself, I now am definitely planning on spending many more days there in upcoming years.


  1. So if you don't show up for your wedding, can I assume you'll be in Alaska working for ERA and convincing Ariel to keep you warm? ;-)
    Great photos ... you did a lot in a short time.

  2. Wow, you really did make the most of your one day there! Lots of brushes with greatness, too (some more than brushes - better not let Gina see that picture with Ariel). Glad you had fun, welcome back to the real world. :-)

  3. For that little camera you had, you got some great photos! It was awesome to finally meet you, can't wait to meet up again. Next time, come out for more than a day and bring Gina, too! :)

  4. Thanks, everyone.

    Victoria - definitely, we need to both make it up there for an extended time. Next year's the 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub, that might be hard for me to resist...