The Best Of OSH In Two Days
by ANN Correspondent Mark Sletten
So you're going to OSH for the first time this year, great!
Unfortunately, you have to work during the week and can only be
there on Saturday and Sunday. If you want to pack the most
AirVenture possible into two days you need a plan, otherwise you'll
just wander around ogling all the pretty airplanes (not necessarily
a bad thing) and miss some other really cool stuff. Here are some
ideas to help you get the most out of your two days.
Let's assume you were able to get at least Friday off for
traveling. If you are flying up, check with your airline to see if
they offer an AirVenture discount. If not, click here to see a list of air
carriers that do -- thank you EAA. Another option is
rideshare (click here for info). People with empty
seats are coming from all over the country; you might get a ride in
someone's homebuilt hotrod! Incidentally, while you're still at
home you might consider perusing the latest maps and schedules.
These are great for making a plan if you have been to OSH before
and know what you want to see.
The first thing you
want to do on arrival at the gate (after paying, of course) is
obtain a map; OSH is a BIG event and you'll need one to find your
way around. You also want to get an event guide containing
schedules and vendor information. Then turn on your portable radio
and tune to AM 1210 to listen to EAA radio; if something cool or
unusual is happening they're usually talking about it. The best way
to get around is walking, so make sure you bring good shoes.
If you prefer, you can go to the shuttle tent and wait for a
ride, but be prepared for long lines on the weekends with the big
crowds. If you get to the airport by 3:30pm you can catch the daily
airshow. Although you can "see" the aerial demonstrations from just
about anywhere on the field, you really need to be airshow center
(near the tower) to truly "feel" the thrill - nothing sounds like a
big radial roaring at full military power!
A lot of AirVenture's perennial attendees plan to leave on
Friday because they don't like the big weekend crowds. The mass
exodus usually starts right after the airshow. You can watch (and
watch out for) the mad frenzy of activity as you walk around the
homebuilt parking area - conveniently adjacent the tower - admiring
the stunning workmanship that goes into some of these fine
amateur-built aircraft. Don't wait until Saturday because many of
them will be gone.
Usually by now, it's dinner time. Even if you have
transportation you might consider finding dinner on the grounds.
Many people complain about the high prices, but if you consider the
cost (in time and dollars) to leave the airport, eat and return,
it's actually a wash.
After dinner it's time to get to the Theater in the Woods. On
Friday night at 7:30pm you'll see a presentation by NASCAR team
owner Jack Roush followed by Grand Ole Opry star Mike Snider and
You're first stop on Saturday morning should be the AirVenture
Museum and Pioneer Airport. You can easily spend all day in the
Museum and not see everything, so click here for a preview. After
that you can walk over to Pioneer Airport. This replica of a 1930's
era airport is complete with six hangars of vintage aircraft - very
cool indeed! While you're over on that side of the airport you
might consider visiting the Memorial Wall. Spend a moment of
silence honoring those who have gone before us and made it possible
to enjoy the unique freedoms of aviation.
Since you're looking at airplanes, why not continue? You can
walk thru the park to get back to the flight line, and then make
your way to the north end where all the warbirds are parked. Try to
get there before lunch because after 1:00pm there is a lot of
activity preparing for the airshow.
After lunch it's time to visit the vendor's exhibit area. Most
of Saturday's crowd is coming to see the airshow (which you already
saw on Friday), and a lot of folks left on Friday to avoid
Saturday's crowd, leaving all the vendors to you! Aside from seeing
old friends and lots of airplanes, the vendor's exhibits are
AirVenture's biggest attraction. Most of the aircraft and kit
manufacturers exhibit outdoors in and around the main road between
the entrance and the flightline. In these outdoor exhibits, and
situated around the outdoor exhibits in four large, 200' X 200'
hangars, you'll find just about anything you can imagine that is
even vaguely related to aviation -- trust me, you'll be truly
astonished at what you'll see.
Although the exhibitors are required to man their booths until
at least 5:00pm, some have been known to stay later. Unfortunately,
since you've restricted yourself to two days, there is no way
you'll see all the exhibitors. I recommend you review the exhibitor
list (click here) before you go and pick out the ones you are most
interested in. Use your event guide to find the exhibitor's booth
and visit those first, then spend the rest of the afternoon
By now you've spent all day out in the sun (hopefully) and it's
time for a shower and a meal. If you're staying near OSH you might
consider returning to the airport for the evening movie at the EAA
Fly-in Theater. The Fly-in Theater, an outdoor venue, sports a
5-story screen and celebrity introducers. Saturday night you will
enjoy a showing of one of the greatest aviation films of all time,
Battle of Britain (1969) at 8:30pm.
Sunday is a good day
for ultralights. The ultralights are usually flying in the morning
when the winds are light. I recommend you walk to the ultralight
area at the south end of the field. As you stroll, take the time to
admire and marvel at all the classic aircraft, the show aircraft,
seaplanes and antiques parked along the way. (A word of caution,
many people will be leaving Sunday and you will be walking past and
thru aircraft movement areas... be careful!)
Ultralight aviation is truly (and usually literally) at the
grass roots of our hobby. The marvelous feeling of freedom we feel
while flying is magnified with the wind (and sometimes grass) in
your face. If you've never considered flying an ultralight aircraft
you should -- the experience is well worth it!
Next on the itinerary is the Fly Market located west of
the tower. This is the one time I recommend you use the shuttle
service because: 1) not many people are riding all the way out to
see the ultralights and 2) the fly market is about as far from the
ultralight area as you can get. In the fly market you will find
vendors selling everything -- I mean everything, not just aircraft
stuff. And best of all, many times on the last day of the show you
can get a good deal on an item if a vendor doesn't want to haul it
back home. Make an offer, you might be surprised!
And that's pretty much the best of AirVenture in two days. If
you're traveling on Monday you can grab some lunch and use the
afternoon to return to the things you found most interesting for a
more thorough perusal. Although two days really isn't enough to
fully experience AirVenture, it's better than not going at all!
Don't be surprised if you find a way next year to spend more time
there, because I think you'll agree with me that AirVenture surely
offers a taste of the best of aviation in America.