EAA Airventure 2021

I’ve attended Airventure a bunch of times. Always camping but sometimes driving and sometimes flying. I’ve experienced the mass arrival at KOSH, I’ve spent hours waiting to depart after the show, and experienced the nearly every year big storm. Well this year checked most of those boxes but the most important new one, flying a plane I built. Big shout out to EAA for incredible treatment for us homebuilders. From check-in, to showers, to food in the Homebuilt Camping, to priority departure, it was all top notch.

I would be remiss to not mention the arrival into the show, this year they implemented a new arrival procedure lining up planes about 50 miles west to keep things better organized. This required flying 90 knots at 1,800 feet for about 40 minutes. I was arriving solo which added to my anxiety but as it turned out I was lucky (planning played a bit of a role – arriving shortly after the airfield opened) and I ended up with a mile gap between myself and the planes ahead/behind me (1/2 mile separation is required). And there was a big mass of planes a few miles ahead of me which required sending a few to the back of the line. My arrival was uneventful and I nailed landing on the dot that was called out.

After being directed to my camping spot it was time to meet the neighbors and check camp setup.

It was nice to have Sunday (before the show opened) to walk around, relax, and enjoy being back in Oshkosh. But come Monday I was reviewing the daily newspaper and planning my day around the forums. I had a list of questions and presenters I wanted to learn from and ask a few questions. The first day I hit a leaning seminar by Martin Pauly and first of many seminars presented by Mike Busch.

The evening was capped off with a fun Van’s gathering where I enjoyed talking to Geoff (Aerosport Products) and Stein (Stein Air) which led me to meeting Steve (Flight Chops). Wandering around a bit I joined a group that included Jonathan (Evoke/Paint Schemer) who I had spent the previous night hanging out with, and who introduced me to a few other Youtubers who are still in the building phase. All in all it was a fun evening meeting cool people.

Of course it wouldn’t be Oshkosh without rain so Monday night the wind picked up overnight and brought a good downpour. I stayed dry and my baby weathered the storm like a champ. I wanted to hit the Garmin booth when they opened so I headed that way only to be surprised to find Mike Patey’s arrival with Scrappy. Scappy’s wings were a good umbrella while I checked out his workmanship and chatted for a couple minutes. I’m thankful to see him early because he was swamped all week.

The show included a bunch more forums and closed out with an RV-10 meetup at a local microbrewery. What a great bunch of people and the location was great for talking to everyone, sharing war stories, and giving some advice to couples still working on their baby.

Wednesday was an odd for a number of reason… Not odd, I started my day volunteering which was a first for me and felt great to give back a bit. The forecast was for an evening storm and as the afternoon wore on more and more of the homebuilts disappeared from the field as people bailed out to avoid the storm. Others wrapped their wings with carpet form and people like me crossed our fingers and hoped for no hail (wind and rain don’t have me concerned). My afternoon was spent attempting to help my daughter get to Oshkosh. She had a flight to Appleton with a connection in Charlotte. Due to mechanical issues after an hour delay I told her to pull the plug and buy a ticket to Minneapolis. My friend picked her up and drove her to get my pick-up for the five hour drive to the show. As evening approached I grabbed a big meal at a nearby Mexican place and prepared my plane as best I could.

I was relaxing in my tent when the first warning came over the PA. Then my daughter called, she was stuck in central Wisconsin in a bar waiting out the storm. Ugh. Things were getting ugly. Next was the PA announcing a tornado warning. At this point I was starting to get concerned. Figuring there was nothing I could do I grabbed a sleeping bag and headed to the museum that would be used as a storm shelter. After laying out my sleeping bag I returned to the entry of the museum to watch the approaching storm. There were a good twenty to twenty-five people who joined me and we took it in together watching the radar, rain, and wind move in. As things got rough rotation was detected in a cell nearby so everyone was ushered into the museum where I was blown away by the number of people who had come in while I was outside. While resting a boy came to tell his father that all of the Bonanzas had been flipped. Oh no, not leaving was looking to be a terrible idea. A short while later we were cleared to head back to the campsite and I jogged over. Thankfully as I approached homebuilt camping all the planes looked fine and a few minutes later I was able to see that N241VP was safe as well. The next day I would learn the Bonanza rumor was completely false. Whew.

With my daughter arriving at 1:30am Thursday we took a bit of a slow start to the day before exploring the Warbirds area and a few of the buildings. I let her lead the way since I already had three days of exploring under my belt. We hit a few seminars and ended with a class on welding. I was surprised to get a tap on the shoulder from my friend Joel, who I attended many Airventures with over the years. He was camping with some buddies from the airlines. After the class Joel came by to check out my plane and notice the two spots were I could have done better (after paint no one will know…). It was a blast catching up with him as it had been a few years since we hung out (thanks Covid).

I woke up early on Friday and headed for the ultralight field where the powered parachutes were flying. It was a beautiful calm morning, too bad my daughter slept in and missed it. We closed out the show on a high point enjoy the afternoon airshow followed up for shenanigans at SOS for roasted corn, live music, and playing cornhole.

Saturday morning the weather started out VFR but dropped about an hour later making my morning departure delayed. My daughter hit the road for her drive to Minneapolis while I waited. And waited. And figured I was struck for the night. But as mothernature does, she changed and it improved to 3 miles and 2,000 overcast which was enough to allow planes to depart. I hustled to pack up camp and get in the air. It was not the greatest weather but thirty miles from Oshkosh it got a bit better, before getting worse around Rochester (MN) before clearing up as I neared Minneapolis Crystal. Whew, I made it home safely and had all the memories of a great week at Airventure!

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