I’m in Wisconsin. “What in the world are you doing in Wisconsin?”, I hear you ask. Well, here at the end of the day, I’m enjoying a Rocky Patel 1990 and getting set for a long day tomorrow, the first full day of the AirVenture show at Oshkosh. Nearly every type of airplane … heck flying machine … is represented here this week. For anybody with even a passing interest in aviation, Oshkosh in late July is the place to be.
Except maybe for the mosquitoes. But that’s partly what the cigar is for.
Today was pretty much a ‘look around and see what’s out there’ day. Not everything has arrived just yet. Late the week, Boeing’s Dreamliner … the new, all composite airliner Boeing has been working on for years will be stopping by. The Wittman Field (KOSH) runway will be taxed by the appearance of the airplane, but it handled an Airbus A380 a couple of years ago, so I imagine they’ve well figured out that they can get the Dreamliner in and out of here. Still in all … it’ll be fun to watch.
I spent part of my day today talking to a guy who is here with his 15-year-old nephew who flew here in a 1946 Ercoupe. This is an airplane of which I have been a fan for a long time. Paul Kern, the father of an old girlfriend, had one. Paul was one of my early flying influences, and who showed me the path that would eventually lead to my earing a pilot’s license. Paul’s was a “newer” 1966 Alon Aircoupe with “Factory 3” controls. In the airplane I saw today, the ailerons are coupled to the rudders, eliminating the need for rudder pedals. It was designed shortly after the war to be an “everyman’s airplane” … easy and inexpensive to fly. But like so many of those ideas, it never quite panned out to what it should have been. I recall an afternoon with Paul in the Alon in which we flew from Bedford down to a little town called Sunrise in southern Indiana. His daughter, whom I was dating at the time, was on a church-sponsored canoe trip on the Ohio River, and we did a couple of lazy overflights of their encampment before heading back home. I’d love to be able to fly one again, but then, there are a lot of airplanes that fall into that category.
Being here in Oshkosh always gives me that feeling. There are few sensations that are like being in command of an airplane, no matter how small. Coming here, being around the airplanes and the airplane people, it touches a place that nothing else really can.
So, I’m in Oshkosh. I’m here to work, and work we will. But there is also a camaraderie, a feeling of belonging, something unique about what it represents. It feels right to be here.
This may be a rare, quiet moment this week. I’ve not written enough about anything. That needs to change. And this seemed to be a much better place to start than any.