Yes, Virginia, You CAN See It All
By ANN Contributor Aleta Vinas
It's often said there's so much to do at Oshkosh you have to
clone yourself to see it all. I have just one AirVenture under my
belt. That hardly qualifies me as an expert. I do have several
years of large science fiction (shameless plug - Serenity April
2005) convention experience. It's a lot like an air show, with
booths, vendors, talks, and movies -- all scheduled at the exact
What's a poor girl to do?
First, download as much of the schedule as you can about a month
before the event. Check off the sessions you want to attend. Get
over the fact that there will be several "gotta see" events all
happening at once.
At AirVenture, there are more than sixteen forums taking place
at the same time in the Honda Motorcycles Forums Plaza alone.
Face it, you can only see one at a time. This is also a good
time to consider attending with more than one friend (Hint: pick
friends who have video cameras).
Download the schedule again a few days before you leave. Note
the changes since the first time you looked. Cross your fingers.
Maybe -- just maybe -- that conflict you worried about for weeks
has resolved itself.
The EAA AirVenture website has a forum schedule that's listed by
topic. If you have a thing for engines, for example, you’ll
be able to see forums specific to your interests. You’re also
luckier than those of us without a favorite subject because
you’ll have fewer forums from which to choose.
Check out the schedule for Theater in the Woods. They have some
excellent programs each evening. Fair warning: the appetizer starts
at about 1930. The main course is served at around 2030. If you're
going to one of the later forums, watch your time. Theater in the
Woods is big, but when someone like Harrison Ford or Paul Tibbets
is speaking the place fills up quickly.
Getting to the gate at first light
goes without saying. The earlier you arrive, the more you get to
see. Prioritize. Specifically, save the things that don’t
change (like vendors and static displays) for the rare times when
none of your favorite forums are scheduled.
Skip the movies, they’ll eat up your time and you can rent
‘em at Blockbuster after the airshow is over.
If your primary goal at Oshkosh is to find that very special
widget, then head directly to Fly Market or Aero Mart. Do not stop
at Warbirds (till later, though you'll be sorely tempted), do not
Be on the lookout for the neat freebies. My alma mater,
Embry-Riddle, had some cool stuff to give away at Oshkosh last year
-- potholders and pens that turned into jets, for instance. Scope
out the ExxonMobil tent for the free tiger tails. Last year, the
fashion trend seemed to be hanging them from your baseball cap.
This year, it's tying them to your back belt loops.
The EAA Museum is off site. That's going to eat up time in
traveling. If possible, try to attend a couple of back-to-back
sessions to avoid wasting time going back and forth. Some of the
Museum talks may also be scheduled at the Honda Motorcycles Forums
Plaza. The good news is that many of the forums are repeated
throughout the week, giving you more than one chance to catch that
certain speaker or topic.
For example, Debra Winegarten
conducts a session called, "Katherine Stinson: Flying Schoolgirl."
It's slated for Thursday, from 1100 to 1200, then at the Honda
Plaza later that same day between 1600 and 1715. Jill
Rutan-Hoffman's forum, "Growing Up With The Modern Wright
Brothers." She’s in the Museum Friday from 1400 to 1500 then
again at the Honda Plaza Saturday from 1130 to 1245.
Sometimes the same speaker conducts forums on different topics.
If you can’t get to one, try the other. The subjects often
overlap. Even if they don't, you can use the question and answer
time to ask a question on the topic you wanted to hear about. You
can also talk to the speaker one-on-one after the forum is over.
You may have to wait your turn and move the conversation outside to
allow the next speaker to prepare.
The speakers are usually very friendly. They're generally happy
to continue speaking on a subject they are passionate about. Burt
Rutan’s scheduled subjects are "Life After Airliners," "A
Chat with the Rutan Brothers" and "Private Manned Space Programs."
Do you think he’d object if you had a question about
If you’re going to a talk by
one of the top guns like Bob Hoover (right), Chuck Yeager, Dick
Rutan, or Rod Machado, get there early -- unless you don’t
mind standing room only. You’ll have to wait till the prior
forum finishes in order to get a good seat, so try to slide into an
aisle seat somewhere. Folks will leave and then you can sometimes
slip into a seat closer to the front.
Another possibility is to “plant" yourself. Grab a front
seat for the prior forum and sit through it until your speaker
Don’t forget to check the schedule for the Author’s
Corner at the EAA Warehouse. If you’re going to buy one of
the author's books, you may as well have it signed while
Absent from the author’s corner this year is Wes
Oleszewski. He's the creator of Klyde Morris, aviation’s only
ant. Klyde appears twice a week here at ANN. Oleszewski’s new
book of Klyde cartoons, "Spring Loaded to the Ticked Off Position,"
was to debut at this year's AirVenture. Despite e-mails requesting
a slot in the Author’s Corner. But just a few months before
the show, there seemed to be no place for Klyde at AirVenture.
Happily, Wes and Klyde will make their debut in an ant friendly
atmosphere at the AOPA Expo in Long Beach (CA), October 21-23. Stay
tuned to Aero-News. Details are still in the works.
About 1530 the fun overhead begins. Admit it. It's what you came
for, after all. Head out to the flight line and spread a towel (do
you really want to lug around a chair all day?). Turn your eyes to
the sky for the likes of Patty Wagstaff, Gene Soucy and Teresa
Stokes, Mike Mancuso, Jimmy Franklin, Eric Beard and the rest.
You can continue walking around while you watch, but remember,
it can be hazardous to your health. There's a good chance you'll
run into something.
Remember to bring some snacks.
Otherwise, you'll find yourself hankering for something to eat with
nothing but a $10 cheeseburger within reach. Drink lots of water
while you’re walking from place to place. It’s usually
hot and humid. Okay, maybe the air conditioned movie area ISN'T
such a bad idea after all. Stay hydrated and don’t worry,
there are potties all over the place.
Don’t forget hat AND the sunblock to protect you from
sunburn. Going home lobster red is one souvenir you can do
These ideas should guide you whether you spend one day or every
day at AirVenture. If you're not quite so anal, just come on in.
There will be forums, exhibits or planes (or all of the above) that
will catch your attention, either on the ground or in the sky,
maybe both. The most important thing to remember is to have