Catch up on the FLYER’s trip to EAA AirVenture, aka Oshkosh. And, well, it really is an ‘awesome’ event… simple as that!
25 August 2022
America might have more than its fair share of crazy politics and crazy people with guns, but it’s also home to a phenomenal aviation scene. For all that Aviation Minister Roberts Courts says about making the UK ‘the best place in the world for GA’ (see the News Special), the USA shows how good it can be. And so, the three of the FLYER team that attended this year’s EAA AirVenture – ‘Oshkosh’ to you and me – were ridiculously happy to be there. That awful Americanism ‘awesome!’ really does apply, and I hope you get a flavour of it from our coverage of the event.
There’s a ton of news stories, a round-the-show photo report, and a selection of videos available on the FLYER website. And for some strange reason after we’d had yet another day walking our feet off, we decided to make it all free – so if you’re not a FLYER Club member, you can still catch up.
Our arrival at the sprawling town of Oshkosh came after a three-hour drive north from Chicago Airport, and after unloading our gear into the rental house, we sprinted off to meet Cirrus at Basler Flight Services, an FBO on the north side of Wittman Regional Airport, where the event is held.
Ian and Ed went off to shoot a video flying the famous ‘Fisk’ approach into the airport with Ivy McIver of Cirrus, while I took Keir Williams, a friend of FLYER making his first trip to Oshkosh, to the entrance of the show. Keir spent the week camping, along with the many thousands of other pilots who flew into the show.
It was just as well Ian and Ed got that flight in when they did because later that day, while we were sitting in Applebee’s having dinner, a storm blew in, with strong winds, huge amounts of rain, thunder, lightning… the works. Oshkosh, the show, is famous for having at least one exceptional weather event and, well, this was it…
Next day, before the show officially opened, we made the rounds to see the layout and check on Keir, who had posted a video of the storm from his tent.
The last time I went to Oshkosh was nearly 10 years ago, but it was as familiar as yesterday. Only the exhibitor displays seemed to have changed, while the sheer number of wonderful aircraft, old, new, homebuilt, factory-built, warbird and now, electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL), just gets better and better.
It’s a huge site and even though you can hop on to tractor-pulled shuttles and occasionally blag a golf cart, you do a lot of walking. Think 20,000+ steps a day in hot and humid conditions…
First stop, of course, was over at the Van’s Aircraft stand to see if the RV-15 had turned up yet. No. But it was on its way. Later, Ed had a fantastic, revealing interview with Van’s President and Chief Technical Officer Rian Johnson and the RV-15 was clearly the story of this year’s Oshkosh, which is why it is on the cover this month.
While walking around the Homebuilt ‘village’ (there are ‘villages’’ all round Oshkosh for Vintage, Warbirds, Ultralights etc), we came across a stunning open cockpit replica, the Timber Tiger ST-L, a 95% scale kitplane of the famous Ryan PT-22. For me it was a jaw-dropping moment, one of my favourite ever aircraft available as a kit… and it looks just like the real thing but with modern tech such as a Rotax 912UL engine. A story of brilliant innovation and a ballsy business plan that’s repeated all round the show by numerous aviation-mad entrepreneurs.
Over at the simply superb Warbirds village, with more military aircraft than many of the world’s air forces can muster, it’s clear that Warbirds are big business, run by enthusiasts but with the balance sheet firmly front of brain. The cost of running these big beasts is extraordinary – gas prices in the US have shot up as well – but every minute of the day during Oshkosh, at least two or three rare, beautifully maintained Warbirds were starting up and going flying. There’s a video of the Warbird area too.
Cripes, I’ve already reached my word limit and there’s still so much more. The Vintage area, with rows of immaculate (and a few hard-used) increasingly rare aircraft all flown in by their owners, some travelling thousands of miles.
Then there is the North 40s, a camping area on the north side of the airport that boasts its own shop and atmosphere. There’s also a South 40s, but that was so far away we didn’t get there this year. Oh. Of course there is also the Seaplane Base which is off-site but easily reached by shuttle or car, and there’s a video of that too.
If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s worth going to Oshkosh, the answer is simply ‘Yes’. Don’t hesitate. Go. Who knows how much longer the US and the world can afford or support such a gas-guzzling event as Oshkosh?
Find all FLYER’s Oshkosh coverage on the website https://flyer.co.uk/tag/osh22/