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By Ian Brown
August 2019 - What an amazing recovery from a tough start to the week! It's not clear how ANYONE could have responded so quickly and so well from an abysmal start to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. More than 5 inches of rain fell on Friday night and Saturday, just as everyone was arriving for the start of AirVenture. Nobody would dream of camping anywhere else in the world where that much rain had fallen.
Entering the camping area with my RV, I believe I was one of the last to be allowed in, since everything was a muddy mess. Everyone was remembering the aptly nicknamed Sploshkosh of 2010, when 10 inches of rain fell in a short period of time. What an amazing testimony to the volunteers and staff of EAA that things went as smoothly as they did!
Before I go on, it all turned out just great in the end, but this is what we were dealing with as we arrived. The campground had to be shut down on Saturday morning, resulting in hundreds of RVs in a huge traffic jam all around the airport, and eventually hundreds more in parking lots all over town. We didn't see anyone get mad, and that typical resilient EAA spirit took hold as we dealt with what we had to. Even a trip out to get supplies was a challenge; traffic was jammed, and we almost didn't make it back in to our campsite. Here is just one picture of the traffic that was all around the periphery of Wittman Regional Airport.
People got out their chairs and made new friends wherever they happened to be stuck.
By Monday morning the worst was over, and although the drainage ditches were still flowing quickly, the sun was shining and the rest of the week we were treated to nice mid-80s temps with good sleeping weather overnight. Council chair Jeff Seaborn and I had lunch with Bernard Gervais of COPA, and we all agreed that both organizations had strengths that we could bring to GA in Canada and that we would endeavour to work together. After our meeting we happened to run into a very busy Jack Pelton, who nevertheless agreed to pose for a photo with a couple of Canadians.
Jack Pelton is never too busy for a photo with Canadians, as shown here with chairman Jeff Seaborn and COPA CEO Bernard Gervais.
We met Capt. Blake McNaughton, flight safety officer for the Canadian Snowbirds, along with the most recent addition, Joel Wilson, only two weeks into his career with the team. Both came to our ice cream social, which was so well attended we ran out of ice cream in 17 minutes, despite having bought what looked like tons of it.
Flight Safety Officer Blake McNaughton chatting with Canadians at the ice cream social.
They were camping with their CF114 Tutor jet, as Blake had done previously at Oshkosh.
Capt. Blake McNaughton and new Snowbird Joel Wilson at their campsite.
Gary Kingsma gave an excellent presentation on his restored Dyke Delta at one of our well-attended Canadian forums, and perhaps the star of the show was John Dyke himself, who showed up to answer questions on the design.
Dyke Delta restored by Gary Kingsma.
John Dyke with Gary Kingsma.
Gary's yellow Dyke Delta was displayed on our Canada Tent forecourt, along with an excellent 1941 Fleet 16B Finch, which won a bronze Lindy award for Bronze Age (1937-1941) Champion. It was displayed by Steve Givens from Pendleton, Indiana.
What a shot! The Fleet Finch, the Canadian flag, and the iconic Oshkosh tower, the busiest airport in the world for a week.
This is why we come!
On behalf of your Canadian Council, I'd like to thank you all for your positive comments and your friendship as you came to visit the many volunteers in the Canadian tent. Some of you came in for no reason other than it felt like home. If we don't see you before, we'll see you next year!