• EAA AirVenture 2017

    EAA AirVenture 2017

    By Nils Lips

    Planning for holiday season 2018? EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh is an option I think you should consider!

    "Mags off, fuel off, master off? Alright! Welcome to Oshkosh!! "

    A couple of years ago I said to myself: "I have to go to Oshkosh at least once in my life". Last year at the Texel Fly-In a friend said, "Oh yeah, why not volunteer at the flight line?" "Can one just do such a thing?" "Sure you can!" Some time later, mid-July 2017, we left for an adventure that exceeded my expectations by miles...

    On the 17th of July I touched down in Denver, Colorado. "You overshot Oshkosh a bit, and you were early!" I know, it's for a good reason. My friend went to Osh & SnF a couple of times and made some friends. They, sweet as they are, asked us to come over to Colorado to stay for a couple of nights, after which we were supposed to drive a van stuffed full with camping gear all the way to Oshkosh. A long but sweet road trip!

    The Super Cub and Colorado Rockies

    But first...! We got spoiled a little bit since we were invited to join on a local Super Cub flight, which was awesome, of course! It was a nice old Canadian Cub, recently restored. It was my first time in a Super Cub, and my first time flying over the Rockies, what a thrill!

    After another night staying with another very kind family, we set off for Wittman Regional Airport in Wisconsin.

    Empty plains in eastern Colorado

    After a long one and a half day drive, I drove the van onto the AirVenture grounds. It was the 20th of July and the field was still quite empty. A couple of long-time volunteers had already made it to the grounds way ahead of time to support the setup of the event - and we arrived just in time to settle in and start helping out marshaling the first arrivals in the vintage aircraft parking & camping.

    Just after arrival at the camp site

    But first, the basic training. I had some earlier training marshaling at the Oostwold Airshow back in the Netherlands, but having to park aircraft with just two feet of spacing between wingtips on the busiest airfield in the world... I can tell you, I felt nervous. However, there were plenty of experienced crews there to watch my back and help me build up my confidence, which was reassuring. After a couple of aircraft I got kind of comfortable - just in time for the arriving masses!

    The kindness and hospitality of the vintage volunteers totally hit me by surprise. I could not have imagined a more open welcome into a very unique family of people, most of whom have been volunteering at AirVenture for numerous years. Not only marshaling on the flight line, but also Vintage Operations, crossing guards, bookstore and vintage barn volunteers, security, camp logistics, volunteer kitchens, operation hunger & thirst and much more! They do whatever it takes to make Oshkosh happen for the Vintage Aviation Association (VAA); the vintage department of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA).

    Camp site & VAA family with Paradigm Paramotor display team in the background

    During the weekend ahead of AirVenture, traffic started to increase. OSH17 was to become a legendary airshow with many historic moments and special guests. People flew in early in order to obtain a nice spot. This didn't always go according to plan however! Special fly-ins were organized to celebrate among others, the 80th anniversary of the Piper Cub and the 70th anniversary of the Cessna 195. Because of this, many parking spots were reserved. Can you imagine the feeling of arriving early but having to taxi your way past a sea of open spots; only to be parked more than a mile down south, in a place we jokingly call "Fondy" or "South Fondy"/"South 40" (after the airfield of Fond-du-Lac).

    Luckily, most of the arriving pilots understood why they were positioned so far away from the show's center. In total, during the entire event, 1162 vintage parking or camping aircraft (manuf. up to 1971) showed up (out of a total of 17,223 aircraft operations in a 10-day period!!).

    Two days before the official start of AirVenture - aircraft being parked in "South Fondy"

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      What a great read! Thanks for sharing your experience Nils.

      I'm quite envious
    1. avallillo's Avatar
      avallillo -
      That's one of the more roundabout ways of getting to OSH that I have encountered! Well written!
      Tony Vallillo
    1. allanj12's Avatar
      allanj12 -
      Nice experience and photos - well done!
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