July 27, 2013 - Friday afternoon only a handful of rows were filled in the North 40 aircraft camping area. The remnants of inclement weather seemed to slow down the arrivals. But those who were already here were setting up for this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in.
Pitching tents, organizing camping gear, or just sitting back to watch the growing stream of arriving planes.
And enjoying the steadily improving weather.
Father and son, Eric and Sean Nottorf, are organizing the gear, in and beside the small dome tent pitched under the wing of their Maule. Dad's been coming to the Oshkosh fly-in since 1985, but Sean's here for his first time.
Eric remembers his early visits to the fly-in. "I was overwhelmed by everything back then." But this year he's seeing it through the eyes of his boy.
Sean, 13 years old, says he's "looking forward to the air show. And the workshops seem kind of fun."
Sean hasn't formally begun his flight training, but his CFI Dad has been getting him started. Sean says that although he doesn't fly the plane yet, "I try to keep it on course."
The Nottorfs hail from Fort Worth, Texas, and arrived at the fly-in this year on the Thursday before opening weekend. They plan to stay for about a week.
The Maule they flew here is a 1995 model that they've had for about a year and a half. Back home they also have a Grumman and a Pacer. Of the three, Sean likes the Pacer. "It's a beautiful airplane. Nice maroon color."
Eric says that though the Grumman is the most comfortable of their planes, he likes the Maule. "It gives you a lot more capabilities as far as flying into unimproved areas. So it's good for camping and things like that."
Aviation is a big thing in the Nottorf family. Eric's wife is also a pilot, and their 10-year-old daughter wants to be an astronaut.
Their home airport is Hicks Airfield, a private, shared-ownership field in Fort Worth.
When Eric went looking for his first hangar he was concerned that so many small airports were closing, but he found, and liked, Hicks.
"I wanted to make sure that it would be around for quite awhile. The fact that there are many owners, they're enthusiasts, and the location of it is pretty good. These things pretty well guarantee the fact that it should be around for awhile."
Dan Greene is stretched out in a folding chair at the runway-end of a row in the North 40. Beside him is his bright blue-and-yellow Citabria with a tent under the wing.
Dan comes from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and flew in this year on Thursday. He flies out of Chesapeake Regional Airport (CPK), Norfolk, Virginia, where he's a member of EAA Chapter 339.
It's his first AirVenture.
The flight here involved two stops. One was at Morrisville, an airport that he really enjoyed visiting. "Those guys are really nice," he says.
One remarkable thing about Morrisville is all the crop dusters in the pattern. "I had to work in the pattern with about five other planes, crop dusters. With the Citabria it was fun. Cause, you know, those guys really zip around. But I got in."
In addition to flying the Citabria, Dan belongs to a club that has a 182 and two 172s. He flies the club airplanes to "take my wife in, and we fly IFR. But the Citabria," he says, "likes to see upside down."
Dan is a CFI who provides training in the Citabria. He finds that although there's a lot of interest in taildragger training, only a few are willing to make the investment of time and money to get the certification.
What's Dan expecting from his first time to the Oshkosh fly-in?
"An overload," he says.
He expressed amazement when, "I was just told that you can't get through it in three days." We think Dan's in for a treat.
What are Dan's favorite flying destinations?
"There's a place just south of Charlotte; I love going there. When you go there the only person that meets you is the dog. He watches you refuel the airplane. Then you pet him and fly off. And the dog's sitting there, in the shade, enjoying it."
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