Summer is in full swing and in east central Wisconsin, an otherwise quiet General Aviation (GA) airport becomes one of the busiest airports in the country in late July. Oshkosh, a.k.a Wittman Regional Airport, becomes home to aviation enthusiasts and pilots alike. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it’s because of Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh. Really, if I were to describe GA in one word, it would be: Oshkosh.
What Began As A Club…
AirVenture (the tradeshow and airshow) has its roots in EAA – an organization that was dedicated to supporting builders and restorers of experimental aircraft. In 1953, this organization started out on the small side with just 150 people registered at the fly-in in September of that year. While it originally started out as focused on experimental aircraft, EAA is now involved in almost every aspect of recreational aviation and aeronautics.
From 1953 and beyond, the show became too large for its original location in Milwaukee, WI and moved to Rockford, IL. By 1970, again the airshow was too big and that’s when it made its final move to its present location in Oshkosh, WI. It wasn’t always called EAA AirVenture, as for many years it was referred to as “The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In”. However, attendees have many different names for it such as The Oshkosh Airshow or simply just Oshkosh.
Became The Busiest Airport For a Week…
What started as a fly-in has evolved into so much more than that. EAA AirVenture is home to displays of every aircraft type imaginable from every era of aviation.
While those aircraft on display are the main attraction, the air shows that happen every day draw people from around the state, the country, and the world. In addition, Oshkosh also doubles as a trade show for not only aircraft manufacturers, but includes hangar builders, avionics engineering companies, and so much more.
It also serves as a venue for learning as workshops are hosted by many organizations in the aviation industry such as EAA, Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and much more. EAA is also hosting forums, demonstrations, and interactive seminars in partnership with many well-known companies. Companies such as www.Globalair.com will have their booths in various buildings around the airport for potential and current customers to visit (f.y.i., we’re going to be at Booth 3015 at Hangar C!) and do business with.
And Home to Memories for All Ages…
I get somewhat nostalgic when I think of AirVenture. I’ve had the privilege of going a few times over the last several years.
The first time I attended, I was hosting a group of international young adults through the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) through the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I had the privilege of being their Public Affairs Officer and was fortunate enough to get the “backstage pass” to wander around and explore while taking pictures, of course.
The second time I attended, my sister and I ended up taking a bus with many others through the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) from the South Saint Paul Airport for the day. I remember dragging myself and my sister to the airport before the crack of dawn to sit in a bus for several hours, explore AirVenture in one day as much as is possible with only six hours at my disposal. Still, we made many memories together and she got to see why I’m so passsionate about aviation.
The third time I attended was nearly three years ago now with friends that I had known since my first job at a little flight school at Flying Cloud Airport. They would attend the weekly safety seminars as a couple when they were dating, and we quickly became friends. I eventually attended their wedding in the coming years and we ended up driving down together for the long weekend and camped next to their car in tents. What fun! I can’t tell you how amazing it is to wake up to the sound of airplanes, get ready for the day, and spend hours walking around seeing every facet of general and business aviation. Now, in just a few weeks, I’ll be returning to Oskhosh for the fourth time, this time I’m working at a booth!
I’m looking forward to telling folks about our scholarship program as well as the company itself. However, I’m there for some exciting and interesting stories to share with you all. I think it’s going to be my favorite year yet!
So, What’s Your Story???
Got a favorite Oshkosh story? Have you flown to Oshkosh? Did you meet your special someone there?
Leave a comment below with your Oshkosh story – we want to hear from you!