AirVenture, 2005

By Jack Welsch


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Having kept diaries for my pilgrimages to Oshkosh in 2000, 2001, and 2003, I made the deliberate decision to forego it for this year's visit. Once again, Ed and Ron invited me to go along but this time, there was a change. Ed had sold his RV so we drove to Milwaukee in his van, then rented an RV. While it was a bit more expensive, the ride was a lot faster and smoother and a lot less stressful. We took both the RV and the van on to Oshkosh so we were able to use the van to go to dinner each evening rather than taking the bikes.

AirVenture was as good as ever but it occurs to me that, at least for me, there's not a single event or venue that makes is special; it's just the feeling of being there with a few close friends and a whole bunch of like-minded people. To me, Friar Tuck's and The Charcoal Pit are every bit as important as Aeroshell Square.

As always, we were there and set up long before the show itself started and got our regular spot at 14th and Lindberg. When we parked, there was space all around us; in a day or two, it was packed solid. I will say that one of the things I especially like is getting there early and sitting on the flight line watching arrivals. There were a few tense moments this year, including a GP-4 that stalled out above the runway and put the gears through the wings. Thank God, the two people climbed out, apparently unhurt.

When we visited the museum, Ed and I took the helicopter flight from Pioneer Airport. It was only about 5 minutes but, at $30, was a hell of a bargain!

On about day 2 or three, we noticed a guy camping alone nearby us so we invited him over for drinks. Yvon is from Montreal and we spent a lot of time together during the week. His personality was very much like ours and he fit in well.

There were some especially unique planes to see this year, highlighted by SpaceShipOne, carried by the WhiteNight and the Lost Squadron's Glacier Girl. We saw both land and it was spectacular. We also got up a bit early one morning to attend Bob Cardin's presentation at the museum. Cardin headed up both the recovery and reconstruction of Glacier Girl and he was a fascinating speaker. Also on hand was Virgin Atlantic's Global Flyer in which Steve Fossett complete the fastest, non-stop, non-refuelled flight around the world. Unfortunately, we didn't see it fly but it looked fast even sitting on the ramp! Of course, both Burt Rutan and Richard Branson were on hand and they were loving it!

So, once again, a fantastic week. Oshkosh is magical!