This years trip was short but sweet. Until the last minute I wasn’t sure if I could make it there. End of the month is always a crunch time getting project deliverables out of the way. There was no way I could take a day off. As Oshkosh week arrived, I was in a panic. How could I not go! With luck I found a decent prized ticket for just the weekend. It was going to be a hectic but awe inspiring weekend. Not sure what reason others chose to go to Oshkosh but for me it was always to get inspired, rejuvenated and recharge my batteries.
EAA had thrown a host of new shows into the mix this year- a night air show, an early morning balloon launch, and the usual mix of seminars, presentations, workshops, daily airshows, rides, aircraft displays, vendor booths, EAA museum, seaplane base, evening entertainment, and Saturday morning 5k.
The alarm buzzed at 3:00 am, a little sleepy and tired but excited, my friend and I awoke, packed the van and head out in the dark for the three hour drive up north to Oshkosh. We wanted to waste no time: the plan was to arrive there by day break, set up camp and head on to where the action was as expeditiously as possible. The excessive rains the past few days had left the campgrounds still damp but fortunately no rain was in the forecast for that weekend.
Each visit, our first priority was to work our schedule to include one or more of Burt Rutan’s presentations. This year, the only choice for the weekend was a talk by Rutan at the EAA museum. After a morning stroll through the aircraft display and tour of some of the aircraft on display we headed out to the EAA museum after lunch for another motivating and inspiring delivery by Rutan. We got lucky this year and managed to pick two more trophies: a photo with the man himself and an autograph on what was available at hand: my EAA cap from last year! I was happy to add this to my previous two trophies: a signed Rutan Scaled Composites visiting card and a gate entry permit for the first successful launch of Space Ship One along with the photograph of me in Mojave with the SpaceShipOne and Mike Melville in the background after the first successful space flight for the X-Prize. I always come away feeling exhilarated and immensely motivated after hearing a Rutan presentation. This year was no different. Anything and everything felt possible!
Seeing the night airshow for the first time was impressive. The sailplane with blazing light trails was the most impressive of all the performers except possibly the incredible climatic wall of flame that brought the successful night airshow to conclusion.
The trip was short but sweet. Another Oshkosh memory, that continues to inspire me and brings me back each year!