Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On to Oshkosh!

Summer at my house hits its peak when it's time to head to Oshkosh for the Experimental Aircraft Association annual AirVenture. For one week each year the relatively small airport becomes the world's busiest airport. That week, technically, starts Monday. I'm leaving Friday morning.

My campsite is already staked out thanks to a friend in Peshtigo who drove down to stake it out for the annual RV Builders BBQ, which I host each year. Carolie and I hosted our first one in 2003 and with just a little tiny grill, we had about 14 people. Carolie doesn't go to Oshkosh anymore, so last year Patrick and I handled the duties and about 70 people showed up. This year we have about 250 expected. We'll have three grills fired up and three campsites reserved and lots of volunteers bringing everything from canopies to coolers. Should be fun. It's on Wednesday.

My sister Cheryl, brother-in-law Willy, and Carolie were talking at breakfast last Sunday about how I've tried to get my nephew -- Cheryl's son -- to Oshkosh. He's an F-18 driver for the Navy. I think all pilots -- if not everyone -- should see the history of flight and meet people like Chuck Yeager and Frank Borman, meet the Tuskegee Airmen and find out how they never lost a bomber when flying escort. Talk to members of the Women's Air Corps, who actually were sent into combat conditions, but were never given military benefits by our support-our-troops-but-not-really government.

It's also a good place to meet members of the Greatest Generation, of which there are, of course, fewer every year.

In the last couple of years, putting on the BBQ has taken up more of my time, I guess, than it should as I haven't been able to get to some of the forums, which are valuable to people like me building an airplane. This year I'm going to try to attend more.

But what I really want to do is spend more time at the seaplane base at the bottom of Lake Winnebago. The show area itself is go-go-go with tens of thousands of people. But the seaplane base is a real laid-back spot under the canopy of trees on a spit of land that's about as pretty as you can find. They've got a corn-on-the cob night, but I think it's also on Wednesday.

So, lots of stuff to do over the next 10 days. But none of it gets done before I figure out how many pounds of potato salad 250 people will eat.

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