July 28, 2013 - The AirVenture lifestyle in Camp Scholler is a little bit different and a little bit the same as the North 40. One big difference is that EAA members start arriving far in advance of the fly-in's official start.
North 40 residents begin arriving about four days early, but in Camp Scholler it's not unusual for campers to arrive more than a month before.
Starting in late June, Scholler gradually changes from a rolling green pasture into a village of white motor homes and multicolored tents.
On Saturday, two days before the start of Oshkosh 2013, we visited with a few campers.
Bob Helland and his nephew Bryce Helland are from Racine, Wisconsin.
Bob came up to Oshkosh a little more than a week ago and staked out his place in the prized Paul's Woods area of Camp Scholler. He and Bryce then returned on Saturday before the show and set up camp.
Bob's been coming to the fly-in for more than 40 years. "I think the first time I came was '71 or '72. I flew up in a Cessna 150 and spent the day here. I thought, oh, this is kinda cool."
For Bob the biggest difference over the years has been the variety of things that are here. "It's not just about homebuilding now," he says. "It encompasses everything in aviation."
Is that an improvement? "I think so. All that stuff is interesting to me. And there's still a very large segment of homebuilding here. I think that's even bigger than it was before."
Bob has friends out camping with their airplanes. Who does he think has the better deal? "I do," he says instantly.
"We have easier access to showers. And we have shade. And, a camper." He laughs.
Bryce, a 9-year-old, soon-to-be fourth-grader, is here for his third AirVenture. What's he looking forward to this year? "I can see rocket man," he said, referencing Yves "Jetman" Rossy. "He wasn't here last year, so it keeps on getting better and better."
Bryce is also a regular at KidVenture. "I go and build stuff. Like a propeller. I did that last year, and I'm gonna finish it this year." He's also looking forward to the glider sim that the Soaring Society of America has at KidVenture.
Bob has been flying since 1970. He has commercial and IFR ratings, but these days he's active in gliders. He's rebuilding two Schleicher Ka 6s. "One's a 1956, the first year of the Ka 6. Then I have a 1967 Ka 6E, which is the last variant."
He flies out of Batten Airport (RAC) in Racine and is a member of EAA Chapter 838.
Larry Overstreet arrived almost two weeks before the fly-in's official start. He drove his midsize RV up from his home in Sussex, Wisconsin.
Larry is the advance scout for upward of 15 parties who make camp together in Scholler. Larry purchases camping credentials for all and stakes out a large area just south of the Scholler Red Barn.
Getting a good camping location is only part of why he arrives so early.
"It is a little bit of a land grab," he says. "We're trying to get the right campsite where we can all be together."
But there's another benefit.
"I love seeing the place sort of rise up out of nothing. First you see one or two campers here and there. And maybe there's one or two airplanes around. Then it starts to get a little bit of momentum, and people start to show up.
Friends that I only get to see once in a while. It's just a really fun time. It's quiet, it's low key, super relaxing, it's just a really refreshing time, before all the chaos of the show starts."
Larry flies gliders out of Hartford Municipal in Hartford (HXF), Wisconsin, and is part of a club at Madison (MSN) that has two IFR-capable planes.
Here with Larry at AirVenture 2013 is his wife Maribeth, and five of their six children, aged 14-22.
"I sometimes feel like I could come for Oshkosh, and never leave Camp Scholler. Never go out on the flightline, never go see vendors, and have just as much fun. So much is going on here. So many friends we see. There are parties and get-togethers, and things to do in the evening.
"I think a lot of the public comes in, sees the air show, and then at 6 o'clock they all go home. But for us that's almost the beginning of the day. Everybody's done, you come back together, tell stories about the cool thing I just bought, or what I saw, or who I bumped into. Those telling stories around the real or virtual campfire is really what so much of the fun is."
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