Sunday, August 2, 2015

Final Oshkosh Report

Oshkosh was interesting this year.  Arriving on Monday, Ginger and I found the airport and campground packed.  Neither of us could remember it ever being like that at the beginning of the week and it had been ages since we had witnessed it at capacity.  Everyone was talking about it.
Naturally, that had me wondering what changed.  The most obvious thing is the price of fuel.  Oshkosh has long waxed and waned with the price of petrol and I'm sure that played a part.  But, Oshkosh was also early this year.
Word on the street was that this was done because so many schools are starting early enough to impact attendance.  Therefore, the timing was changed.  I never bothered to confirm it but I have heard of many other events doing the same.  It also might explain another odd thing about the event.  Although it was packed early in the week, and despite great weather, it thinned out as the week went on.   It was very strange.  But again, maybe folks were coming early and getting back home for something else.
Also of note were the machines on hand.  In past years the Vintage area always had a handful of really rare and amazing machines on hand in addition to the usual row of Howards and Staggerwings, Cessna taildraggers, and other random classics.  This year though, only one plane, a Curtiss, stood out.  Well, let me correct that.  There were some cool Piets.  But, other than that, Vintage seemed a little bland this year.
As for Warbirds, there are typically one or maybe two really amazing restorations on hand with a lot of the usual.  This year though, the number of incredible restorations and amazing machines was exceptional.  One day I walked through it looked like a Navy display right out of WWII.  There was almost one of everything with many planes being represented by multiple examples.  Yet, oddly enough, the thing many people kept mentioning was the homebuilt Spitfire.
Yeah, there were a lot of great homebuilts this year and I found that comforting.  Vintage Piets, a homebuilt Spitfire, and a some amazing glass was on display in the experimental section.  When homebuilts are strong, so are the rest of us.  Therefore, we should always do our best to support and celebrate anyone with the gumption to see a project through. 
Homebuilding isn't a skill, it is a byproduct of freedom.  When EAA was formed, it was the freedom to build and fly your own plane that drove those who believed in it.  It was a fight to bypass boundaries.   If there were such a thing as Aviation Patriots, homebuilders would be them.  It's good to see them well represented.

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