EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2018

Earlier this summer I went on a tour inside O’Hare’s Air Traffic Control Tower, with the Women in Aviation’s Chicago Leading Edge Chapter. O’Hare is known for being one of the busiest airports in the world. Doors to rooms inside the tower have signs that read: “World’s busiest training room,” and “World’s busiest break room.” You get the picture.

But for one week of the year, a tiny airport in Wisconsin gets to have that honor. According to the EAA’s website, the Wittman Regional Airport had 19,588 aircraft operations from July 20-30, that’s an average of approximately 134 takeoffs/landings per hour.

This year, over 600,000 people attended what is one of the biggest aviation events in the world. As a helicopter and fixed wing pilot, I have always dreamed of going to this incredible airshow. Although I had spent most of my career as an aviation writer at companies that scheduled their product releases around AirVenture, I had never had the opportunity to go to the Oshkosh fly-in.

I didn’t realize just how big of a venue this event was. As I was picking up my tickets at the front gate I asked the attendant how long it would take to walk from one end of the event area to the other. He shook his head as he said, “I wouldn’t try that.” At Oshkosh there are tractors that pull shuttles full of people from one area to another and buses that take weary spectators back to their cars in the far away parking lots.

Although there was a surprising quantity of teenage pilots there, the majority of the pilots were seniors. I am sure many of them were veterans. And many of their stories will go untold. Maybe they have a box of photos in the basement, or a journal, of their memories. They could have their collection of aviation memories and photos captured in a book for future generations.

It is a huge undertaking, but the end result will be worth it.