By Dan Grunloh, Editor, Light Plane World
In a little more than a week from now, about 100,000 people will be traveling to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010. More than 10 percent will fly there in their own aircraft, and I plan to be among that lucky group. As editor of Light Plane World, I deliberately chose the first of five possible answers in this month’s poll to express my sentiments about the event. I’m especially lucky because I happen to live about 300 miles from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This turns out to be just the right distance for a one-day adventure flight in an ultralight or light plane to the greatest fly-in in the world. A shorter distance wouldn’t be as much of a challenge, and I couldn’t make it in one day if the distance was much greater. In a time when a successful flight completely around the world by a pair of light-sport aircraft barely makes the national news, my little one-day excursion is hardly worth mentioning.
In the past, I’ve traveled to AirVenture by train, by bus, and in a carpool with others, and I’ve driven my truck there for two decades with an ultralight in tow. Then in 2000, I became secretly embarrassed when I realized that friends and acquaintances were flying to AirVenture in their little airplanes from greater distances than I was driving. And they claimed to be having a great time doing it! I realized that some things just have to be done while you still can, and I started flying instead of driving. I loved it! There are no stop signs, busy traffic, toll booths, or crowded truck stop restaurants. Instead I enjoy my peaceful “sack lunch” on a picnic table under a shade tree at one of the airports along my route and watch the planes coming through on their way to Oshkosh.
It took a big change in attitude for me as I had always thought I needed a lot of camping gear to survive for a week living out of a tent. I couldn’t carry much baggage on my little trike and had to move into a smaller tent. It really isn’t that hard. Simple camping is actually easier, and besides, several thousand other folks are doing it, too. Camping for a week with hot showers, hot food, a grocery store, and oodles of friends close by hardly qualifies as “roughing it.” Recently I’ve learned that EAA has established a procedure whereby you can ship or mail your gear to the convention site and pick it up when you arrive. Check out shipping information for attendees. Hello comfy air mattress and extra clothing!
The minor inconveniences are well worth the experience of seeing Lake Winnebago appear on the horizon and noticing that the airspace around you is gradually filling up with airplanes. If aviation doesn’t seem as exciting to you as in the past, it could be because you’ve missed that thrill. If you’re among the lucky ones driving or flying to AirVenture, please come to the ultralight area and say hello. You can see a picture of my aircraft and little tent in the Trikefest photo album in this issue. I’ll be looking for interesting stories of people and their travels to share with the readers of Light Plane World. I hope to see you there!