Friday, July 18, 2008

Why I'm not going to Oshkosh

I'm not going to Oshkosh.

There are a number of things that conspired to make this decision, as I explained earlier.

But when I got the call from a public relations person from Ford yesterday at work, that sealed the deal. She was pitching various events that Ford was promoting at AirVenture, none of which I was interested in. As a member of the media, I get a lot of these calls and e-mails, usually.

This year, though, is different. Not a single call or e-mail came from an aviation company or any individual having anything to do with the homebuilding of airplanes.

Even worse, perhaps, in my mind, is the lack of any interest I've received from EAA in helping me tell the story of the judging of homebuilt aircraft. Dick Knapinski, does an excellent, excellent job of promoting AirVenture to the media, but when he referred my request for a homebuilt judge to help me do a story on what he/she looks for when looking at an RV (I was going to do this for the RV Builder's Hotline and then also try to whack something together on the subject for my day job), I didn't get so much as a callback.

Even worse, perhaps, I didn't a single taker on my request for an RVer to use his/her airplane as the guinea pig.

If I can't get done what I wanted to get done, then what's the point?

I can follow what's going on there via the AirVenture Web site and also Doug Reeves' excellent Oshkosh page on Van's Air Force. Why go?

I'm a long, long way from joining in the usual cacophony of curmudgeonly calls for EAA to get "back to its roots." I love the EAA and I love going to Oshkosh. But to be fair, something is missing this year. I've been to Oshkosh before so Harriers, and the usual airshows don't impress me a bit.

And when I see more and more threads from RV builders about putting two AFS 3500s in their airplane, well, I'm beginning to realize just how little I have in common with a growing segment of the RV building community. Reading that stuff reminds me too much of some of the magazines I see that blare, "affordable kitchen remodeling for under $1 million."

Many people I've come to know and whom I look forward to seeing and sitting with for a few days aren't going this year. My wife says she can't take a whole week off from work and at $4 a gallon, driving a second car over at mid-week makes no sense.

The summer is slipping away and I feel like it's never gotten started. And my day job requires me to go to Denver for the Democratic convention in August and follow it up with the Republican convention in St. Paul and nothing can suck one's enthusiasm for summer faster than having the Democrats and Republicans on the agenda as the summer finale. So I need to find some free time. A week in July is it. Rather than go to Oshkosh, I'll putter around the house, try to get some projects done, and maybe take a bike ride or two.

But what concerns me most is I didn't get excited by the prospect of Oshkosh this year. It was looking like just another week on the calendar that had been scheduled.

That's not good.


  1. I am the only one of my flying buddies flying my RV to Oshkosh this year. I planned the trip over a year ago. AirVenture is the reason that I plan a trip from the West Coast to the East Coast every year. It is my excuse to go fly and make new flying friends.
    RV-6 / 320 / Hartzell
    2,117 hobbs hours.

  2. Hi Bob,
    I hope your enthusiam comes back!
    Katie and I are going again this year. We have really cut back on our flying so this is our one big trip this year. Its worth it to us to just get out of Dodge (Phoenix,AZ)for a week and forget about work and just relax (go-go) all week with other airplane people.
    See you next year!
    Best Regards,
    Tom and Katie

  3. Bob,
    I understand how you feel. I love to fly and I love going to Oshkosh, once in a while. There are people that go every year but I have to wonder if some of them cross the line between joy and obligation. I have gone with great anticipation and joy. Like the first time I took my newly completed RV8. Or I have left better than I arrived like the time a dear friend insisted that I go shortly after some personal (divorce) ugliness.

    Enjoy your week off, go flying and mow the lawn if you have time. But above all, follow your heart.

    John Clark

  4. Hi Bob,

    It took some pulling of teeth, but I managed to combine my work (Mill inspection in East Troy, WI for our new heat exchanger retube) and play and will be going to Oshkosh. But the best part is that I will be taking my 9 year old son with me on this "boondogle" work trip. Heck, we're even squeezing in a Brewers vs. Cubs game. Can't wait. I'm hoping to create some unforgetable memories for my son and I. Don't get me wrong, my head jerks skyward everytime a plane passes above.....but someday I hope my boy will recount our Oshkosh adventure to my grandkids...and then I hope he does the same for his kids.

    Ed Avila
    St. Johns,AZ