Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oshkosh Diary - Day 1

Son of a gun. It is like coming home.

I arrived at Oshkosh around 2 -- a 4-hour trip from St. Paul (if you're coming from the Twin Cities, be advised Highway 45 is closed). Using the trusty GPS, I found "my" spot.

I said yesterday I was getting used to packing light, in anticipation of making this trip in an RV airplane someday. I have a lot more learning to do on the subject.

In the old days, when my wife and kids came over, this is the part where I'd get all upset about something and Carolie would say, "let me take care of it," and I'd go for a walk and come back and the tent would be up. Those days are gone but over the last few years I've gotten pretty good at it. The tent -- and it's like an old friend that comes here once a year, too -- went up in about a half hour and the big canopy took a little longer, thanks to the typical Oshkosh wind. But in due course, "my spot" was "my home" once again.

A lot of friends aren't showing up at Oshkosh this year and as I was about finished setting up camp, I was thinking this was the first year in many that someone didn't venture out to the middle of the field to see if I was here. When I turned around, there was Rich Emergy of St. Charles, Mo. (or is it Illinois, anyway it's basically St. Louis), one of the first people to stop by every year (Larry Frey, are you here?). Rich was one of the big organizers and volunteers of the BBQ and it was great to see a friendly face.

Rich, who is one of the volunteer chairmen here, says there aren't as many airplanes as usual on the field yet. I noticed a very, very quiet sky as I was driving in, and here in the campground, I'm seeing more tents and pop-ups this year, and few of the big land yachts. Take this anecdotal evidence for what it's worth. Since I camp out in the middle of the field at the EAA grounds, I see the campground fill up as people eventually reach my location around Sunday afternoon or evening. I'd say, so far, it's about the same as last year.

(As I wrote that, three big land yachts just showed up a couple of 'streets' over. They're setting up in a "compound" formation, so it looks like we'll be having some parties nearby. Good.

Rich, who recently retired and is building an RV-7 airplane, had a nice chat and we engaged in the campground version of watching people land. We watched people struggle putting up tents in the afternoon Oshkosh wind.

As is the nature of Oshkosh, we eventually helped the poor kid get his rig set up. I give it one good rainstorm before it sees the dumpster.

The EAA, bless their hearts, has again provided free wiFi, so here I sit in the middle of a field, connected to who knows who, who knows where?

If you're out there reading this, shoot me a note. I'm playing "Ask Mr. Oshkosh" (link fixed) this year so make it a fun note. Each day I'll be printing a few.

Rich is camping near one of the homebuilt judges, so I'll try to get introduced to him, perhaps, this evening for a story I'm doing on what makes a well-built RV airplane. We'll try to pick one of the heap that's arriving at Oshkosh tomorrow around 12;30 on a formation flight from Rockford, Illinois.

As I said before, this year I'll be writing a bit more about the unique experience that is Camp Scholler. For those who've never been here, getting in is easy. There's many volunteers to move what looks at first to be a long line into a short registration process. I was into the front gate and onto my spot (I used the GPS for the exact coordinates) in under 10 minutes.

For veteran campers, you'll be pleased to know the South Africans are here again. They fly a charter over and set up in a huge area and they do not observe the usual 10 p.m. curfew. They observe the 10 p.m. curfew on South Africa time. They party, bring in bands and booze. We'll be stopping by to say "hello."

On the other side of the emotional spectrum, I've received this from John Porter:

Well, it is with deep sadness that I tell you I won't make it to OSH '08. We had three big trees ( two oaks and a hickory) punch holes in our house in a recent storm. We made the cover of the Cherokee Ledger..............big score!! And since my deductible for wind and hail is $4500, we will be laying low for this year. Bob, thanks again for all you do. I really look forward to next year.

That's a real shame. John was one of the many pleasures of last year's Oshkosh. Veterans RVers will remember him as the brains behind this shirt (and that's John holding it up):

I had at least one Ask Mr. Oshkosh question this morning but at this hour of the afternoon (sunset), it's nowhere to be found.

More as it happens... Don't forget to subscribe to the RV Builder's Hotline for a recap of this week with articles from forums etc.


  1. Thanks Bob, I look forward to reading your "Oshkosh Diary" posts.

    RV-9A N910BJ

  2. Hi Bob,

    I'm about 3700 emails behind right now, so I didn't know you had decided to make the trip. From your day 1 post, it sounds like you might be on to what I believe is the best way to have a good time at OSH these days: ignore 'Airventure' & enjoy the people. I gave up on going a number of years ago, & the only time I've been since then was when a friend practically begged me to fill an empty seat. I went with no goal at all except to hang out with a friend & be worthless for a few days. It was the best time I've had at OSH in almost a decade. I spent OSH day 1 trimming & then making the 'big cut' on my -7's canopy. It was only 92 today & dropping in the afternoon as I started the cut, but everything seemed to go ok anyway. I suppose it would have been better earlier in the week when it was 98. ;-)

    Tell 'em hi if my name comes up.

    Slobovia Outernational
    Pocahontas MS

  3. second attempt to post...
    Wish I was there, but am glad I can at the very least enjoy it vicariously with your Oskosh Diary.
    You have a true gift of amking it all come alive, even long distance.

  4. I couldn't make it to AirVenture this year, but your posts help me enjoy the vicarious experience. Have a great time there!