Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oshkosh Diary: Meeting the neighbors

So far, this has been an "uncomfortable" Oshkosh, not in the sense that there's a lot of mud and all, but that it feels like it does when someone has moved the furniture around. While the AirVenture grounds feature the usual "been there, done that" vibe (I'm seeing very little I'd describe as remarkable for the homebuilder), out here in Camp Scholler, things are chaotic.

The grounds have dried out fine, but if you come here for years at a time, you usually end up in the same spot. It's comfortable. You know where to find people and people know where to find you. Not this year.

Fortunately, I've been able to connect with buddy Glenn Brasch and his son, Michael, and RV pal Darwin Barrie, who I'm pretty sure is now convinced I'm building a ghetto RV-7A. He's probably right, which is one reason I've decided never to fly it over here.But lots of other people I usually visit with are scattered to the wind.

In the meantime, Camp Scholler always offers an opportunity to meet the neighbors. This morning, for example, I met Alex and Benny, who are from "west of St. Cloud." Benny is a homemade wine afficianado so I've been invited to stop over this evening for a glass of his 2008 vintage. We'll see.


I'm not sure what the significance of this is, but I passed a display in one of the exhibit halls of beautifully carved airplanes of every model. The only one that's been cut to rock-bottom, is the RV line. The RV-8 models were also on sale. (Update: Gary Sobek e-mailed to tell me the vendor sold him one last year for $15. Now I remember this part of Oshkosh!)


There was a time when if you ran into someone wearing a Van's shirt or some other signal that they've built an RV airplane, you could instantly strike up a conversation. There weren't that many of them. Now, because of their popularity, they're everywhere. And the RV community -- singular -- has got pretty fractured. The RV-10 is for the monied, family crowd (not that there's anything wrong with that), the RV-12 seems to be for the older gen (getting there), and the RV-9s and RV-7s and RV-8s in between are for a very diverse crowd.

In other words, there really isn't an RV community anymore. It's no longer unusual to run into someone else building their own RV airplane and when you do, it isn't any more (or less) special than if you run into any of the other hundreds of thousands of people who live here for a week. What the community has in common -- building RV airplanes -- isn't really that significant as it once was. Sure, it's great to put faces to names of people you run across online; no doubt about that. And it's always great to see old friends, but there's 6,000 flying RVs now and probably another 20,000 under construction somewhere. As any city that grows past a certain point knows, larger communities split into smaller ones, and it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the larger group.

Like a corporation that's spinning off, it will be interesting to see how the transition occurs.


I'm using my son's old bike during Oshkosh. Fortunately, it's a mountain bike so it's good in mud. But here's a tip: Keep a detailed note of where you parked your bike at Oshkosh.

1 comment:

  1. Bob! I need to catch up on your posts from Oshkosh... your blog is my lunch date.