August 1, 2013 - John and Marcus Henderson, father and son, are the second and third generations of the Henderson family to attend the EAA fly-in.
They're from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and their flight to Oshkosh this year was via Portage County, Ohio, and Plymouth, Indiana. From Plymouth they flew their 1963 Skyhawk across Lake Michigan, somewhat to Marcus' consternation.
Their home airport is Lancaster (LNS). It's a medium-sized airport with a small commuter air operation. They're occasional visitors to EAA Chapter 540 at Smoketown Airport (S37).
The family Skyhawk is actually a club airplane, and three generations of Hendersons, including John's dad, are members. Both Marcus and John took their checkrides in the plane.
Young Marcus really started coming to the fly-in only last year. But he did attend with his folks when he was in kindergarten. Does he remember anything of that visit? "I remember walking around a lot."
Marcus is 21 and graduates from college next year. He had been considering a career in aviation, and although college has exposed him to other options he still holds open the possibility of some sort of aviation career. You never know.
John is also co-owner of a Saratoga, which is their usual transportation to Oshkosh. Between the Cessna and the Saratoga they do a fair bit of flying during the year. "We go to the shore. We go to New Jersey. Sometimes Hilton Head."
John first came to the fly-in as a very small child in 1967 when it was in Rockford. But he considers his first real visit to be 1972. John has attended for all these years with his dad, and last year his son Marcus joined in.
We wondered what John remembered of coming to the fly-in when he was so young.
"To me it was big, but obviously compared to this it was really small. We came with a whole bunch of guys from the airport. It was a big deal. It made me feel like a big boy."
Why does he keep coming back? "'Cause I like being a little boy."
What's he looking forward to this year? "Hanging out with my kid," says John. "That's what it's all about."
John's dad is usually one of the Hendersons at Oshkosh, but he's stayed home this year to care for his wife. "My dad isn't here," he says, "and it's really weird."
Chuck Miller is from Jefferson, Georgia, near Atlanta. On the trip here to Oshkosh 2013 he stopped at Sky King Airport in Illinois.
It's not related to the TV show he says. "Just a small airport that carries its name. It's tucked right in by a Class D airspace, but you can get in there. But Penny's not there," he says with a frown.
His home airport is Jackson County Airport (19A). It's not big. "There's not a single tied-down airplane there that's airworthy. There are only four," he says. "But there are about 60-70 hangared airplanes."
There's no EAA chapter at Jackson, but Chuck is a past president of EAA 690 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It's a 200-plus member chapter. He had to leave 690 when he moved away. But he still occasionally goes to its pancake breakfasts.
On his way to Oshkosh this year he also stopped at Dodge City, along with some other inbound aircraft. They were all waiting for Wittman to open after the air show. Once the show was over they launched, "hit Ripon and," he claps his hands together, "right on in."
He came to Oshkosh this year in his 1978 Cessna 177B. "It's the last year they made the airplane." He's had it for five years.
He also owns a Piper Warrior. He advises people to not buy an upgrade plane until they've sold their older one. "I couldn't get anyone to buy my other one. The market fell apart about five years ago." So, for now, he owns two planes.
"I bought this new one specifically so my mom could get into it. It has big doors and easy entrance, unlike the Warrior. I literally would need a crane to get her out of that. She's 95 and likes to fly."
This is his sixth time to the fly-in, and he's loving all the changes this year.
"And as always, the volunteers are great here, everybody is so terrific. Everybody's got a smile. Everybody's friendly. Although I'm not sure that it's just the volunteers; that's Wisconsin."
One vivid memory of past fly-ins was the arrival a few years back of the brand new Airbus 380.
"I busted my butt to get up here that year before it got here, and I just made it. I hit Ripon, I got the plane parked, and I got there as he went over. I just managed to see him land. It was the best controlled crash landing I've ever seen."
This year a highlight for Chuck has been the Jetman. "That was really spectacular."
He's not sure how long he'll be staying at AirVenture this year.
"I'm staying till I'm ready to go. I just took the whole week off. I decided I'll arrive on Monday, and leave when I'm ready."
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