I just returned from an amazing few days at Oshkosh EAA Airventure. I spent time with some top notch AvGeeks, spent too much time in the sun, ate too much bad food, drank too much and had too much fun. Scratch that… too much fun is not possible. How would I describe Airventure to someone who isn’t an aviation enthusiast? Lots of kids in the world’s biggest candy shop! It’s where you go to be so completely absorbed in the thing you are most passionate about that it is actually a little painful. It’s just too much! Sensory overload. Yes, that’s a good way to begin to describe it.
I arrived in Appleton, WI Wednesday afternoon, via Delta and caught a shuttle to Oshkosh. After arriving at the campgrounds I wasn’t sure where to go. Mike Ladd was kind enough to not only pick me up and deliver me to the campsite, he also offered a refreshing Gatorade. Such a kind man! After setting up camp at “Camp Bacon” (the name given to the camp where Airpigz has a couple of bacon parties), I planned to enter the grounds to watch the air show, but I discovered that if I waited an hour I could get in for free. Since there is a nice view of the planes from Camp Bacon, I decided to enjoy the company of my fellow campers for a while and just go into the grounds when it was time for OshBash. OshBash is a creation of Dan Pimental, aka Av8rdan, creator of Airplanista. This was a celebration and awards ceremony for people who are active on social media sites, promoting aviation and creating cool advancements in general aviation. It is possible that I am wrong in my perception of Oshbash, but that was my understanding. I was a nominee for an award for Spirit of Airplanista, but I did not win. I’m okay with that. The main purpose of the award ceremony was to bring us all together and recognize the effects we have on each other, as well as recognizing the influence we have on outsiders. I feel that every nominee, as well as everyone in attendance, deserved the award of recognition and appreciation, which is what we all received. Dan Pimentel, who hosted Oshbash, runs a blog and online magazine called Airplanista. You can find it at www.av8rdan.com. Dan also has an aviation advertising company in case you know of anyone with an aviation company looking to make it grow; Dan seems to be pure genius when it comes to making things happen.
After the Oshbash a few of us broke away to find food before the night air show began. The night air show was spectacular; though it was better last year. The music for the performances seemed to be more subdued than previous air shows I’ve attended. I like it when the music is as rockin’ as the performance. Don’t get me wrong, the show was very enjoyable, I just think it could’ve been improved with better music. For instance, I remember the Aeroshell team kicking off the show just after dusk to Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” at the night show at Oshkosh last year as well as the night show at Sun-n-Fun earlier this year. I don’t remember what music they flew with Wednesday night, but it was very relaxed. Perhaps “God Bless the USA” or something. Again, it was nice, just not as kick-ass as I’ve seen in the past. The other performers were also great, but again with the slow music. Even the fireworks had slow music, though Adele’s Skyfall did make a beautiful backdrop. The post-night show party back at the campsite was a ton of fun, and a great way to top off a wonderful day. There was moonshine involved so my memory is a bit fuzzy.
On Thursday I wandered all along the flight line, enjoying everything from the Ultralights to the Homebuilt section and Warbirds. The warbirds have always been my favorite; Though, I’ll admit that I can rarely correctly name them. After all the excitement of the afternoon airshow, I arrived back at camp after everyone had left to go to the UCAP Tie-Down Party (Uncontrolled Airspace podcast beer bash). After getting lost and ending up as far away as I could possibly be from the party, I walked for an hour and a half to get there. I arrived just as some folks were leaving to hang out at the nearby Hilton rooftop and tagged along with them. After drinking nearly a pitcher of donated beer, laughing until it hurt, seeing an iridium flare, we headed back to the campsite for more debauchery and laughter.
Friday was the big day for me. We started with 10 of us taking a ride on the Ford Tri-Motor. Hard to top that!! The ride in the Tri-Motor took us back to an era where commercial aviation was new and exciting. After returning to 2013 and wandering around, we stopped at the Beechcraft tent to say hello to another person from Twitter, Jeff Stiles. I tagged along with some of the group for a safety meeting with the IMC Club, but I was chased away by a chatty clinger. I found the Other People’s Airplanes group, who were waiting for a callback from Patty Wagstaff for an interview. She cancelled on them, but they went over to the air show performers tent to try to catch her and ended up scoring an interview with Matt Younkin, the pilot of the Twin Beech 18 that I absolutely LOVE! After this encounter I was on cloud 9 for a while, but eventually found my group and went to a party thrown by and for Open Airplane. The Aviators crew was also at this party, so it had a pretty big turnout. There was a rumor spreading that space for the premier of Disney’s Planes was filling up, so two of us went to check it out. After arriving, we realized that we really should stay in the little spot we found or we may not get to see it. Sadly, this meant that I missed the chance to meet a fellow AvGeek that I had been looking forward to meeting. Sorry, Russell Loving! Total fail on my part.
Planes was great!
After Planes, we made it back to camp to sit around the campfire one last time (for me, anyhow). There was no shortage of s’mores, beer, wine or moonshine. There was also an adventure walk somewhere around 2 or 3am, but that’s a little foggy, too. It’s really a great idea for them to have guards at the gates to the airshow grounds all through the night. That’s all I’ll say about that.
It was so much fun to see all the people in person that I have regular contact with in the world of Twitter. I feel that I’ll be enjoying the memories we made this week for months to come.
To all the fellow Baconeers: Thank you so much for making these few days so much fun! The 3 days felt like a week, even though it flew by so quickly. As a female, it was nice to feel so welcome and comfortable in a mostly male camp. The level of respect and kindness given to me was not something that went unnoticed, nor will it be forgotten.