Oshkosh – EAA Airventure 2013

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 02228-Jul-2013 12:31, Apple iPhone 4, 2.8, 3.85mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80
If I had to sum it up in one word it would be…….”WOW!”  I finally made the journey to the yearly gathering of pilots and aviation enthusiasts to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture!  For many years it has been something that I have thought that I would someday do but now that I live only about a 2 hour flight from Oshkosh it seemed like something that I had to make plans to do.  A few months ago I blocked the time off my calendar and the closer we came the plans started to take form.  I didn’t have a hotel reservation and I had decided that I would attempt to camp even though I haven’t camped in over 20 years!  Lot’s of planning and even a night of practice in the backyard with Bryan & Hannah earlier in the summer and we would hopefully be ready.  Bryan and I would make the trip up to Oshkosh while Lori and Hannah went up to Michigan to spend a week with family and friends.

Jeff’s friend and instructor for his instrument rating Frank Dorrin and his wife Beverly flew to Champaign in their Twin Comanche the Saturday before AirVenture.  The plan was that we would head up to Oshkosh on Sunday morning.  The weather wasn’t VFR at Oshkosh so we decided to file up to Juneau, WI – KUNU where we both ended up flying an approach down to about 1000′ AGL.  We landed at KUNU, got fuel and explored our options.  Frank was able to get a slot reservation and filed IFR which worked out well for him.  Bryan and I waited on the ground for about an hour and the ceiling had lifted enough for us to make the 30nm hop up to Oshkosh.  There wasn’t too much traffic and we were able to easily navigate our way to Ripon and proceed on the VFR arrival.  When we arrived at Fiske we were directed to “continue along the tracks to the gravel pit and enter a right downwind for runway 27”.  My heart was pumping and I was excited and on downwind I was cleared to land on the orange dot which is about 1/3 down the runway and then asked to land on the green dot about 1/2 the way down the runway.  After landing I quickly pulled off the runway and marshaled to the general aviation camping (GAC) area where we would spend the next few days.  The next couple of hours we were busy meeting our neighbors and setting up camp.  That afternoon we spent time exploring the grounds and caught up with Frank & Bev at their campsite where they had an excellent view of the planes landing on 36L&R.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 06229-Jul-2013 12:19, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 9.0, 24.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
After a very cool night we woke up on Monday morning, ate breakfast at the camp and then headed into the show for a very busy day.  There was so much to see and it was quite overwhelming.  I can’t explain to you how many planes and exhibits there were at AirVenture.  There was also a lot of walking and by mid-afternoon both Bryan and I were wore out.  We even met up with a group of Sunday Morning Breakfast Club (SMBC) members at the “Brown Arch” where they meet everyday at 1PM and we took a picture.  We then spent the afternoon at the camp and even got a very good view of the airshow from the tent.  That evening we went back into the show grounds and we saw the band Chicago play for awhile.  We also ran into Mike Bennett from 110Knots.com and his son.  Mike and I had met a few years ago in Reading, PA and at NE Flyers meetup.  Monday was over as quickly as it started and both Bryan and I were ready for a good night’s sleep.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 10130-Jul-2013 06:31, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 7.1, 36.0mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 100
Tuesday morning Bryan and I woke up early and went to the shower house to try to beat the crowd.  The facilities at Oshkosh in the North 40 were really nice and we both felt good after a shower.  It was amazing that we would be at the tent and see warbirds like P-51 Mustangs, Corsairs, B-17’s and many other aircraft taking off not far from where we were camped.  We had a quick breakfast and headed towards KidVenture which was by the EAA Museum where Bryan had a great time learning about aviation and even getting a flight lesson in a simulator.  Check out these two videos links of: Bryan Preflighting an Airplane, and  Bryan’s First Flight Lesson.  He even got a logbook signed with 0.3 hours after the lesson.  We enjoyed the afternoon again with the Dorrin’s watching the airshow from their camp and then spent the evening in Camp Scholler at a party with a group of people from the Pilots of America Forum.  It was a great meal and good company!

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 11930-Jul-2013 10:22, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 3.5, 18.0mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 400
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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 12030-Jul-2013 10:32, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 3.5, 18.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 07429-Jul-2013 14:03, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 7.1, 150.0mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100

Wednesday was another eventful day.  It would end up being our last full day at Oshkosh so Bryan and I did a lot of shopping for things that we had seen throughout the week that we wanted to get.  We ended up going through all 4 of the big buildings that had vendors from the aviation industry.  We also spent a couple of hours in the EAA Museum but will definitely have to go back at some point when we have more time.  On Wednesday night we spent the evening seeing the night airshow which was amazing.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it and the fireworks at the end were awesome!  Bryan went right asleep when we got back to the tent and I spent the last couple of hours with a few of our fun neighbors.  They were from all over the place.  Mike and his daughter Jeanette from New York in a Bonanza, Ron & Woody from Montana in an RV, Walt from Texas in a Cessna, and Pat & Aaron in a Piper Cherokee 180  from Oregon.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 23101-Aug-2013 10:04, Apple iPhone 4, 2.8, 3.85mm, ISO 80
Thursday morning we woke up and were busy.  A quick trip to the shower house and then we started packing up.  We got everything loaded up, got a refund for the days we didn’t camp and then grabbed a quick breakfast at the food tent near our campsite.  I briefed the departure procedure again and then got some help pulling the plane out from Mike & Pat.  The engine was soon running but then we had to wait in line about an hour behind a bunch of other planes that were trying to depart at the same time.  When I took off there were 3 other planes that had been cleared to take off right in front of me.  I wish I could have taken a picture but I was too busy making sure I didn’t run into them.  The flight home was VFR the whole way and the controllers were so busy that I didn’t even bother trying to pickup flight following until I contacted Champaign approach about 40nm from home.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 24701-Aug-2013 11:09, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, ISO 50
Oshkosh was a great experience that I will remember forever!  I’m already thinking that I am going to try to make it an annual event whenever possible.  I mentioned it to Lori about coming but I don’t think she is too interested in the camping experience which I understand.  Maybe sometime we can get a house or hotel and I will be able to get her to it.  Bryan and I both had a great time and I’m sure he is ready to go back!

 Click here for all the pictures of our Oshkosh trip.

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