Oshkosh Coming Soon July 2012
It’s time to look at your flying calendars, and check the fly-in event listings on the AOPA and EAA websites. Pick and choose the ones that interest you, and make a plan to fly there. Try some new airfields, go for that pancake breakfast, meet some new pilots and make some new friends. That’s all part of the real fun of general aviation, and by the way, take along some non-pilots and share the adventure. But as you know, the big daddy rabbit of flying adventure is the annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh, to the EAA AirVenture gathering.
Many folktales exist about this GA happening: that the trip is too far, too expensive, too hard; other tales are about the high traffic density, the non-verbal ATC communications, and the taxi trip across the grass to your parking/camping spot. Finally, some are intimidated by the size of the FAA NOTAM, addressing the procedures for this huge event. ALL THESE THINGS ARE FALSE. Look, if ten thousand pilots just like the pilot tied down next to you can fly into OSH every year and camp, then this year, you can do it too.
Get your plane in shape for the cross country flight, purchase the necessary charts, and printout the FAA NOTAM. Sit down and plan out your flight, choose 2-3 hour legs lengths for comfort, and gather your camping gear. Call a friend for guidance if they have made this journey themselves. Here’s the biggest secret of all: when your get to the inbound reporting points at RIPON and FISK, all the controller usually says is: “See the plane in front of you? Follow him, half-mile spacing please, change to the tower frequency, and land on the colored dot”. That’s it! Even I can do this.
Once you get there, the ground staff will guide you to a parking spot. Everyone is so nice, it’s hard to believe. After you shut down and get parked, it’s fun to look around and appreciate what you have accomplished. Have a cold drink. Meet the folks on either side of your plane. Exchange tales that might be half-believable. When time allows, buy your camping permit and your AirVenture registration bands. The comfort facilities are either just down your row, or just down the road a short distance. And the water IS hot.
The planes are parked in dual rows, tail to tail, with ten planes in a row, around the perimeter of the runways. I like to walk the rows, seeing what kinds of planes have arrived, and how they are equipped. With ten thousand planes camped, and twenty plans to a dual row, that works out to about 500 rows of planes, which is about what happens each year. Usually it takes me a couple of days to see all the planes. And my feet hurt. And then my wallet starts to vibrate. “Be still, my heart, be still”.
Common Cause: This year, just “DO it”: fly to Oshkosh. Camp with your plane. Take a friend for a few days. Make new friends. See the depth and breath of general aviation at its finest. See new products, and buy what you need. See the greatest airshows ever produced and flown, every afternoon. Visit the seaplane base, and walk among the warbirds and the homebuilts. Don’t take no for an answer – JUST DO IT. You’ll be glad you did. See you there.
CSMEL, CFI C-177RG at KHEF