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Fun Without Sun at Oshkosh ’18

AirVenture attendees are excited for the week ahead, rain or shine

By James Wynbrandt

July 22, 2018 - For an event known as the Woodstock of aviation, it’s not surprising the weekend’s inclement weather failed to dampen the fun for early visitors at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018.

“We love it — this is a great time to be here,” said Rick Steele with his wife, Brenda, contrasting the conditions at Wittman Regional Airport with the humid heat back home in Kingwood, Texas. “This is beautiful weather.”

At Homebuilders Headquarters, Jim Schmitt from Evansville, Indiana, and Jim Price from Boise, Idaho, were deep in hangar talk, Schmitt’s Pulsar and Price’s Long-EZ parked within sight on the flightline. With more than 65 Oshkosh fly-ins between them, they provided the veterans’ perspective on the gray skies. “There’s always plenty of activity to do when it’s not good weather,” Schmitt said.

“A lot of what we come for is the exchange of information, to relax and learn what other aviators are doing, and enjoy conversation,” Price said.

Aiden Goodmansen and Samuel Badger, both youngsters from Mesa, Arizona, were strolling down Wittman Road in the morning mist, exploring the rows of aircraft on display. “We’re trying to find the most memorable kind,” Samuel said. “There are a lot crazy-looking ones,” Aiden added.

The boys, members of Mesa’s Aviation Explorers Post 352, are visiting AirVenture for the first time, and the drizzle was almost welcome. “The weather’s pretty nice,” Aiden said. “Phoenix is 100 degrees.”

Both Aiden and Samuel eventually want to learn to fly and build their own airplanes. “Kits sound like a ton of fun,” Samuel said, and based on whatever his future needs are, “I figure there’s a good one out there,” he said. The two are camping at the Aviation Exploration Base and will be volunteering here, parking airplanes and pitching in any other way they can.

Bryan Jones, EAA 554776, from Houston was reading a copy of AirVenture Today with his morning coffee at the Waypoint Café. “This cool, soggy weather is very relaxing,” he said. “The only problem is my feet are wet. Other than that, I’m just dandy.” Bryan, who’s been to the fly-in, “eight or 10 times,” arrived in his RV-8. Built 18 years ago, it’s “right at 2,000 hours,” he said. He’s meeting up with friends here, and “We just work around” the weather, Bryan added. “We’ll just self-generate our own fun.”

Meanwhile, the Steeles were getting on with their day. “We’ll go walk the warbirds, go to the museum, and see what forums are coming up,” Rick said.

The couple had long dreamed of flying to the Bahamas, and on their last Oshkosh visit two years ago, they attended a forum on flying to the islands. Armed with information, they set their sights on flying to Eleuthera, one of the chain’s Out Islands.

“It’s hard to get to — there are no cruise ships.” They made their bucket list journey there last year. “It was the time of our lives,” Rick said. He offered a last bit of advice on dealing with the gray weather at Oshkosh. “Just get out and enjoy it,” he said. “No sunblock required.”

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