Here is a word play game for you. Ask a pilot to respond to the word “Oshkosh” and see what happens. More likely then not they will come back with an answer that you can physically see, a smile, then a fond whimsical look on their face and only then will they say something. Oshkosh, or officially AirVenture, is an event that takes place every late July run by the Experimental Aircraft Association on the grounds surrounding Whitman Regional Airport (KOSH.) Every year the event attracts over 10,000 airplanes and hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Then you should dig a bit deeper and you will find a few key reasons people keep coming back, here are my reasons.
Where else in the world can you spend a week working with, hanging around with, eating and drinking with, and learn with friends from all over the world? Be it in the forums learning from homebuilders, listening to the latest information from the head of the FAA, reminiscing with an SR-71 pilot, or taking in all that Burt Rutain will give? Each year I ask people why do they come back to AirVenture and every year I hear one overwhelming theme, the people. Being around those who have the aviation bug.
A walk around the Vintage area is a trip back in time to the decades where aviation was an adventure and still relatively new. When adults and children looked up in the sky to see that rare airplane they just heard fly over head and dream of being up in the heavens being that lucky pilot. Continue your walk to the north and you will pass Rutain homebuilts, ushering in the idea of using composite construction. Walking yet further north you get to Warbirds, here aircraft from World War Two through Vietnam are on display. Daily events such as “Warbirds in Review” allow you to interact with the owners, pilots, and those who worked on these magnificent flying machines. Unlike at many museums these warplanes you can get right up close to and inspect every detail, and better yet, hear the magnificent sound of large radial or Merlin engine flyby. These vintage aircraft are living history, preserved and shown to you each day all you need to do is listen, watch, ask questions, and just soak it all in.
The airshow is what attracts the crowd by the hundreds of thousands, sure there is a lot to see all over the grounds but everyone at least one day stops the hustle and bustle of what they are doing to watch amazing pilots do their darnedest to make you think they just broke the laws of physics. Part of AirVenture’s air show is the Warbird Spectacular, this is an amazing event where one gets to watch vintage fighters, trainers, and bombers fly past in formation or doing strafing runs with the addition of pyrotechnics.
Members of the Aeroseum team have been taking part in AirVenture for decades and no mater what we come back. There is a calling that brings people to this event, after attending one time you will understand why it is informally called the Mecca of Aviation.