Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oh Oskosh!

Every summer for one week, more than half a million aviation enthusiasts converge on Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA to live, breathe, eat and sleep airplanes. In that one week, more than 10,000 aircraft of all sorts from the homebuilts and ultralights to the Airbus A380 and military jets fly into that and the surrounding airfields. Various events are organised including workshops on building one's own aircraft, discussion panels, new aircraft launches, talks by renown aviators and of course static and aerial displays. It is also a marketplace for almost anything connected to airplanes from whole airplanes to parts, accessories, model aircraft and sovenirs. 

As a testimony to the disciplined nature of aviators, when they leave the site after the event, not a single piece of rubbish can be found left behind. This is despite the fact that whole families practically live there in tents pitched under the wings of their aircraft.

The whole event called Airventure is run by volunteers who are members of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) which has chapters all over the world. Even the flying displays are on voluntary basis. Pilots fly from all over the world in their own aircraft to attend the event making the airports there the busiest in the world once a year. Unusual air traffic control procedures are required to guide as many aircraft down or up in the shortest time possible. Many aircraft are of the same make and colour necessitating the controllers to request each particular pilot to wiggle his aircraft's wings to see which aircraft in the pack they are actually talking to.

Owners of a particular type of aircraft or members of a certain organisation may decide to fly in together in a large formation after meeting up at another city. This makes their arrivals spectacular events in theitr own right. Like other international events, there are also marchpasts of participants from the various countries bearing their national flags.

Some aviators use the event to set records such as the longest flight in a particular type of aircraft. I once met a New Zealander who flew round the world in a kitplane, stopping at Oskosh on the way. This same guy flew that aircraft round the world again later but in the opposite direction.

A few of my buddies have made it to Oshkosh and of course I too hope to make that trip one day. The upcoming Airventure dates are 26 July 2010, 25 July 2011, 23 July 2012 and 29 July 2014. 

About Oskosh by Harrison Ford, a passionate aviator

Oskosh 2009 Attendance

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