A Sun Burn and Tremendous Awesomeness
Well, day 1 of my first ever experience of Air Venture in Oshkosh Wisconsin is behind me. However, very present in my mind is the sunburn on my lower legs and tops of my arms. Before the trip I researched and purchased a Canadian hat to shield me from the sun, wild beasts, and attack ninjas. I now realize I may have subconsciously assumed the hat contained magical powers which it most certainly does not. Also swirling ever-present in my head is the myriad of airplanes that were on display. Yeah, I’d read the statistics, but those numbers aren’t the same as walking past rows and endless rows of meticulously maintained warbirds.
Planes you thought were few in existence. Conversely, Air Venture gives you the opportunity to see planes that are rare and even understood extinct—until one is found in a basement. (pic of Wright Pusher here)
There are Shuttles and There are Trams
My plan was to fly to Fond Du Lac Skyport and leave the plane there. The logic was, if I wanted or needed to leave Air Venture it wouldn’t be such an ordeal. I secured a room in the home of a very nice couple through the EAA website. All of this means I have to negotiate at least one tram and a shuttle (bus ride) to arrive at a place where a cab, or Uber can take me to my accommodations. However, on this first morning, the lady of the house in which I’m staying offered to drop me off on her way. That was nice and I took her up on the offer, but I knew at the end of the day, I’d have to work out a reverse plan — preferably sans an inordinate amount of walking. A few times during the day, I unfolded the paper map of the grounds and tried to understand how I’d be getting home. More importantly, timing it where I could ride the tram before it stopped for the day.
The Warbirds and a Swiss Fellow… and an Alaskan
The shuttle dropped me just outside the warbirds area. With my wristband, which states I’m legal all week, I ambled toward the military aircraft that covered the field closest to the ticket tent. After spending a while in the sea of military planes, wandering around like an uncoordinated child, I finally reached the edge of the field. It opened up to a great view of runways 18/36. The photographic opportunity was unprecedented. There were only a few people milling in that area so I stood there for a while taking photos of various aircraft.
A fellow to my right was also enjoying the advantageous spot. He had a rather large camera bag and several lenses, which he changed with some regularity. I remarked to him that I was surprised more people weren’t in that spot. He agreed and said something in broken English about the sun. I asked where he was from and he said Switzerland. I didn’t bombard him with any other questions, not wanting to distract from his photography. We did have a somewhat giddy agreement over the reality of there being two Ford Tri-motor airplanes. Who knew?
Around lunchtime, I stumbled into a vendor and scored a burger. Well, they call them burgers here. I have to say, I ate two, “burgers,” today, and I am giving an open invite to the people of Wisconsin to visit Texas for burger training. I am confident anyone there will drop what they’re doing and give you the proper way to do hamburger. All due respect to you German people in Wisconsin. The first burger experience wasn’t that off-putting, as it was garnished with the tales of a nice fellow from Alaska. I’ll call him Ted, because I didn’t get his permission to write about him. Ted works for a newspaper in Alaska and also does aircraft metal work and repair. He shared all manner of tales and photos of his recently rebuilt plane and the beautiful mountains which decorate the sky just outside his hangar. He left with the open invitation, “if you’re ever in Alaska….” Ted doesn’t know a small morsel like that is enough to put me in the planning mode for another adventure.
Now That’s an Airshow
The airshow portion of the day sneaked up on me and then further surprised by being both variety filled and well timed. Once again, I positioned myself where I could snap some photos.
I have to tag the Martin Mars as the most interesting spectacle as it dropped several thousand pounds of water on it’s first pass. Plus, it’s the only one flying and it’s the largest water bomber. That’s fairly impressive. Oh, and it was loud — you get extra points for that! I have incredible video of the water drop, but it’s huge resolution, and I don’t have enough portable computing power to process it now.
I Found My Way Home
By the end of the day I was cooked and tired, but I had a pretty fair grasp of the grounds. I was able hop a tram that took me to the shuttle for the North 40. The shuttle took me back to the Hilton where I punched in some info on the Uber app. Voila! It said the ride would be there in one minute. Actually he was sitting in the parking lot waiting. The internet…,wow! With that, it is time to go to bed, because… tomorrow is day 2 of Air Venture 2016 and by golly I’m tired.