July 25, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin -
The early arrivals to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
2009 parked their planes and set up their tents today, and despite the
winds, it was a beautiful day to fly in.
James Atkins of Virginia flew his 1977
Great Lakes biplane here in six legs for his first AirVenture. As he was
coming into Oshkosh there were, "huge headwinds, so I was making 70
knots over the ground."
This year there is again a diverse group of
pilots coming to enjoy a week of pure aviation enthusiasm, but all of them
say the same thing: "Just being here is pretty nice." It seems
the reason for coming to AirVenture is something intangible - something a
list of attractions just can't properly illustrate.
2009 is Kyle Hankes' second time flying
into AirVenture. Hankes, from Southern California, is 19 years old and has
an instrument rating. Though the biggest reason he came is for that
intangible AirVenture feeling, he is also looking forward to seeing the
Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world.
Bill Taylor of Maryland, another pilot
arriving today, agreed. "We're hoping the A380 will come in and
provide some shade," he joked. Taylor works at the Aberdeen Proving
Ground, so he's very familiar with the military's Predator B Unmanned
Aircraft System, which landed at Wittman Regional Airport last Tuesday.
This is Taylor's eighth time at AirVenture.
Flying with Taylor was Vince Mow, also from
Maryland. They left Friday, but ran into some weather delays. "I'm a
fan of electric airplanes," said Mow, when asked whether there was
anything specific he was excited to see.
This is Dan McCaffrey's third AirVenture.
He was tying down his homebuilt Pitts Special as the wind rocked its
wings, reminding everyone that Mother Nature couldn't be trumped even by
the largest celebration of mankind's conquering of the skies. McCaffrey is
an EAA technical counselor and flight advisor and is most looking forward
to seeing other homebuilts. He is currently building an EAA Biplane.
As all of these pilots arrive, the first
people they talk to are the aircraft greeters. Mike Koerner has been
volunteering at AirVenture for 26 years in one capacity or another. He
says being an airplane greeter is a fun job. He gets to "say hello to
people from all over the world." Koerner is fairly easy to spot, with
his distinctive hat that almost seems to have been formed by EAA patches
from all the years he's been coming.
AirVenture isn't short on enthusiasm, and
there aren't many of the thousands and thousands who come who are here for
a reason other than wanting to experience the excitement of being amongst
others who share their passion for all things aviation. AirVenture is just
beginning, but the unique feeling that comes with it is already strong.