EAA AirVenture 2021 boasted more than 608,000 people, 10,000 planes, and visitors from 66 countries. This year’s theme, “The Wait is Over,” hit the …By the numbers: AirVenture 2021
As we lifted off from the runway, looking out of the window a few hundred feet above the ground, the sight below was quite breathtaking, with aircraft, canopied tents, and people scattered around the airport. It was the busiest time of the year for the people of Oshkosh. I wished I had taken this flight in the middle of the week rather than the last day of Airventure 2009. The crowds were thinning as the end of the convention approached. Still, the sight was impressive from under the wings of the Ford Tri-Motor as we looped around Lake Winnebago over the Seaplane base and back again.
A year has gone by and it is that time of the year again, and the destination foremost in all pilots’ minds is Oshkosh, WI. The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual Fly-In Convention hosted each year in the last week of July is fast approaching. Year after year, aviation enthusiasts from all over the world return to Oshkosh to enjoy and share in one week of unfettered joy and celebration of aviation.
There are many ways to get to Oshkosh: flying, ride sharing, driving or commercial flight. Flying into Oshkosh airport (OSH) is an adventure in itself, and requires careful planning and preparation. The EAA website has a rich source of information to help plan your trip. Getting there is half the fun, where to stay is another important issue. Many easily accessible accommodations go quickly. Most people start planning at least six months to a year in advance. There are many choices for boarding such as dormitory style rooms, hotels, bed and breakfasts, renting a local house or room or camping. If you fly in you can camp near your aircraft. If you drive in or fly commercially, there is ample camping space available. If like me you are a last-minute planner, unable to commit well in advance for a week or weekend in Oshkosh, there is always room at Camp Scholler.
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This week brought back memories of my trip to Mojave one warm summer day, eons ago, back in 2004. In a historic first commercial space flight, Mike Melville, aboard SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnight, made it to the edge of space to experience the brief moment of weightlessness.
This week also brought back my many planned but unsuccessful trips to Florida to watch a launch. Back in 2010 when NASA announced the end of Space Shuttle Flights, I remember the unsuccessful trip of waiting in Florida for Discovery’s last flight. I never got to see the launch.
Then there was the time, I made it to KSC one fine morning to watch the launch of Orion. After hours of waiting, the mission was scrubbed and launched the next day which of course I missed.
On July 11th, VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo category, rocket powered crewed spaceplane with 6 people on board including Richard Branson, made the successful trip to the edge of space and successfully returned.
Ten days later, Jeff Bezos along with two two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space blasted off to the edge of space aboard New Shepard and successfully returned to earth.
Seems eons ago that SpaceShipOne paved the way to commercial space flight, but the last ten days and the two trips definitely are key milestones that will usher in the next era of commercial space flight that will open the door for many to reach the edge of space: go where very few men and women have gone!