Oshkosh 2016

For several years now, I've been wanting to attend EAA AirVenture. AirVenture is a massive aviation convention more commonly referred to by the name of the city where it takes place each summer: Oshkosh. If you are at all interested in aviation, Oshkosh is the place you want to be. It's huge. I've been wanting to attend and I've even made plans to attend, but for some reason those plans never came to fruition. That is, until this year.

We need a bigger airplane

This summer we loaded up our trusty family magic carpet, N4WR, with our two little boys and a metric ton of gear, and set off across the country to Wisconsin. Since it's such a long trip, we decided to split it up over a couple of days and stop to smell the roses along the way.

The first day we only flew one hour, up to Truckee, CA. There we were welcomed by our friends John and Kate and we spent a lovely evening hiking around the mountains where they live. What a great place to spend our first night!

Early the next morning we launched on our full day of flying. The goal was to get as far east as Minnesota (we ended up not making it quite that far). Since I'd never been to Jackson Hole, we decided to head there first, for a lunch stop.

Jackson is one scenic airport

They have lots of elk there

The flights in and out of Jackson were absolutely stunning. We overflew part of Yellowstone on the way out. Unfortunately there were a couple of forest fires just outside the park, so we ended up flying through smoke for a while. The smoke made Max queasy and he ended up throwing up in the back seat about a half hour from our chosen destination of Pierre, SD. Max's vomit made Luke sick and he threw up as I was on my final approach to land at Pierre!

So we ended up landing in Pierre at around 9:30pm local time with an airplane full of cranky boys and barf. Luckily the FBO staff at Pierre are complete rock stars. They could not have been more helpful. They booked us a hotel while we were cleaning out the plane, brought us cleaning supplies, drove us to Wal-Mart to replenish our baby wipes, and then on to our hotel. They saved our bacon that night!

The next morning we completed our journey to OSH, navigated the complicated arrival procedure, landed, and taxied to our camping spot in the South 40. Woo!

Innumerable rows of airplanes. Everyone camps next to their plane.

We didn't waste any time once we'd arrived. We hopped on a shuttle and took a tour of the show. We got off in the warbirds area.

Luke found his favorite plane of the show: the shark plane. The Martin Mars buzzed around all week, dumping water on the airport.

After getting the lay of the land and scoping out some awesome aircraft, we went back to the plane to set up camp.

Keeping the chairs in the shade of the wing was key. Wisconsin is way too hot and humid!

Max was ready for a week of aviation

Once it cooled down a bit (did I mention it was extremely hot and humid there?), we ventured out for some evening explorations.

All the balloons setting up for a sunset "glow show", wherein they light up the evening with their bright flames. It was magical.

The boys liked the stunt planes -- in the air and on the ground

On our second day we spent most of the morning checking out some of the cool aircraft on display.

Some of the restored vintage aircraft were spectacular

The new ones were pretty cool too!

HondaJet mmmmm

Max went for a virtual ride

We also went down to KidVenture, a whole section filled with activities for the little ones. It's right next to the museum, which is air conditioned!

Max and Luke got to pilot these fun tethered airplanes. Helicopter rides constantly circled overhead.

One of the highlights of the show for me was watching the STOL competition. Those are some of my favorite aircraft and the evening atmosphere was beautiful.

Definitely on my short list of possible build projects

Something that I plan to do a lot more of on future Oshkosh trips is the workshops. Max and I took a fabric covering workshop together and it was fantastic. They have classes to learn all sorts of skills necessary to build your own aircraft, taught by experts.

Max and I covered this horizontal stabilizer. Not too shabby!

On Wednesday we hopped on the bus to the seaplane base. I highly recommend visiting the lake at Oshkosh! It was serene and beautiful.

Luke was tired

Max and I took a boat tour and decided we need a seaplane

We had to hurry back to grab our chairs and pick a good viewing spot for the most anticipated event of the week: the night air show. And it did not disappoint! Amazing.

We set up shop near the Beech 18s

It was too dark (and I was too mesmerized) during the night air show to take any photos, but trust me when I say it was spectacular. We brought snacks, the boys ran around in the grass, and we had a blast. What a great and fitting end to our few days at AirVenture!

Thursday morning we departed for the long journey home. We stopped in Utah for a couple of days to visit with some of Sophia's college friends.

New Provo city center temple

I'm not sure if it'll be an annual pilgrimage or a biannual one, but we will definitely be going back to Oshkosh as a family. We had a great time. It was definitely one of our more memorable family trips. Traveling across the country in a small aircraft is such a privilege. We live in a beautiful place. And the spirit of aviation and the aviation community is inspiring. I feel like we barely scratched the surface of the show this year, so we can't wait to go back for more!

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