"Oshkosh 2021 Recap" ATFN #105
Around the Field News. It was a great, but weird Oshkosh... From the ATF Archives: Remembering "Sploshkosh" ... A few more stories from OSH21.
Oshkosh AirVenture 2021 Recap
For me, and I think many others, AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 turned out to be more about having a chance to catch up with friends who I haven't seen in two years, than it was to look at airplanes. Although there were some fun airplanes.
One morning I walked down to Boeing Plaza, aka the West Ramp, and came nose-to-nose with a UPS cargo 747.
It's too bad these beautiful, big airplanes are disappearing from domestic US passenger service, because they continue to be very impressive aircraft.
The seven-four was open each day with a never ending stream of attendees making the tour through the fuselage.
The Goodyear blimp (or one of them anyway) was on hand. Whirring its way overhead for much of the week. The big t-storm on Wednesday night didn't seem to phase it. It was still calmly moored at the edge of Pioneer Airport the next morning.
As I described in one of the UCAP Daily episodes, I was the thrilled recipient of a short, but oh so exciting, ride in EAA's B-25 "Berlin Express". What an experience.
I posted a short video of the ride. A longer video may appear one day.
On Wednesday afternoon we began to get warnings about a looming, big thunderstorm. I talked about it in a couple of the UCAP Daily eps, But long story short, it turned out to be one of the most dramatic thunder and lightning storms I've ever seen at Oshkosh. Thankfully there was very little damage. (Little damage in Oshkosh. The folks in nearby Ripon, Wisconsin didn't fare as well. I hope they've all recovered by now.)
After the big turnout we saw at April's Sun ‘n Fun down in Florida, it was easy to predict that OSH would draw a big crowd. And it did.
The official numbers didn't quite make it a record breaking year, but is was among the top few, which is impressive considering how many attendees and vendors chose to stay away due to the pandemic.
But in another way, it was a weird experience.
The most notable aspect of Oshkosh 2021 for me was the awareness of the ongoing pandemic that hung over the whole thing.
Emotionally it was all over the place.
I had this feeling — and most everyone I spoke to had it too. The first thing we all said when asked, "how does it feel?" was, “It's just great to be back. It’s great to be back on the grounds, great to see all our friends.”
Which I think is a reflection of A) missing AirVenture last year, and B) just our crazy lives over the last year. — It's great to be back.
It was weird... It was a great Oshkosh . I had a great time. I have no regrets having chosen to go.
It was great to meetup all my friends, both the Camp Bacon friends, and other friends around the grounds. And to see some airplanes, and kinda do the Oshkosh thing.
But at the same time there was this ever-present over-lay of... of quite frankly, covid.
A lot of the time you were able to kind of forget that that was a reality. And then, every now and then — I had a number of people tell me they had the same experience — every now and then, you'd sorta look up, and you'd go, ‘oh wait a minute, I need to be a little more careful about that, or I need to be careful about this.’
It was weird.
There was some, but very little, mask wearing going on around the OSH21 grounds. I confess I was one of ones not wearing a mask for the most part.
I stayed mostly outdoors for the whole week. I didn't go inside very often.
The couple of times I went inside... For example: I wanted to go in the exhibit hangars, and at first I thought, ‘I'll be alright. I can go through the exhibit hangars.’ But about thirty seconds after stepping into one of these hangars, I started to feel uncomfortable. I was kinda hunching my shoulders and looking around. Trying to do shallow breathing. Foolishness, right?
And so I ended up racing through the hangars, in order to get a quick look, and then get out.
And I did not step foot inside any of the other indoor exhibits.
I was literally head down, racing through these things just to make the obligatory pass through. It was weird in that regard.
A number of times during the week I shared with others a feeling that I had. Which was, how over the past year we've all developed this new lifestyle. We've learned what the protocols are, and how to be careful. And we've factored those into our everyday lives.
Back home I know what I have to do to go to the grocery store or what I have to do to walk down the sidewalk. That's part of our lifestyle now.
But we're in Oshkosh now, Brigadoon. Where we have literally decades of memories of just wandering around freely. And you just fall back into that, very quickly. It took a conscious effort to remember, that at least a little bit, you need to be careful.
Anyway, it didn't taint it enough to make me regret having gone, but it was an overlay. It was a thing.
It was a good Oshkosh. Weird.
“Around the Field” from 2010
Here's a fragment from Around the Field in 2010, the year when historic rainfall, just before the fly-in, led to it being dubbed “Sploshkosh”.
Originally published July 26, 2010
It's like a big tent-city for the plane-less
One of the signature experiences each year at the EAA Fly-in is camping under the wing of your plane in the North 40 campground. This year the wet grounds have dramatically changed the nature, but not the result, of that experience.
Although many EAAers have pitched their tents in the North 40, almost none of them are under wings, because there're are no airplanes there.
By this time in the fly-in week, the N40 grounds are usually wingtip-to-wingtip with airplanes. But this year it's just a vast field of green grass. Almost no airplanes have been allowed onto the grass, they're all being directed to the scarce hard-surface parking.
But that doesn't mean you can't still camp in the N40.
Dozens of EAAers have unloaded their camping gear, transported it to their favorite spot in the N40, and pitched camp just as usual, just without the wings.
For the AirVenture long-timer it's an unusual view, the N40 with no planes but tents scattered across its expanse.
One AirVenture attendee who would not be denied is high school senior Cameron Curley, with his dad, Jim.
They're from Houston Texas, and Cameron has kicked-back in a folding camp chair, watching the action on runway 9-27, while his Dad is off doing errands.
Cameron's only a few hours into his flight training -- so far he's logged time in a 172 and a friend's Cirrus -- but this is his third visit to the fly-in. The others being two and five years ago. Dad's been coming a lot longer.
Their plane, a twin, is parked at [FBO] Orion, and they're hoping to be able to move it over to the campsite in a few more days.
Cameron and his Dad fly out of Houston Southwest (AXH) in Houston.
Everyone we've talked with so far agree that the conditions and special procedures this year are not having any bad effect on their enjoyment of the fly-in. There's still plenty of chance to visit with new and old friends, and check out the planes under the blue Wisconsin sky.
One Week Wonder returns in 2022. If you haven’t gotten up close and personal with this project in past years don’t miss the third iteration of this attendee favorite in 2022. It’s a very special thing.
Oshkosh 2021: From the reporter’s notebook. Veteran GANews reporter Tom Snow looks back on this historic edition of AirVenture Oshkosh
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// Jack Hodgson