8 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss AirVenture 2016

With Oshkosh less than a month away, here are the top reasons why you absolutely want to be there.

Oshkosh 2015
Attendees watch an airshow from atop the wing of a vintage warbird at last year's AirVenture.Jim Koepnick

We’re just 24 days from the start of EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the excitement is building to sky-high levels.

We all know why Oshkosh is so great, of course: The planes, the people and the electric atmosphere make it the highlight of any GA pilot’s year, with enough memories to last a lifetime.

If you’ve never been, this year’s AirVenture promises not to disappoint with a packed schedule of incredible things to do and see. If you can spare the time July 24-31, go ahead and make plans to check it off your aviation bucket list.

Still need convincing? Here are eight reasons why you absolutely should plan on being there:

1. Martin Mars Water Bomber The gigantic Martin Mars, the world's largest flying water bomber and the last of its kind, will make its first trip to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year. The massive airplane will be parked near the EAA Seaplane Base on Lake Winnebago, just a few miles east of the main fly-in grounds. It will also fly several demonstrations throughout the week during the daily afternoon air shows. You don't want to miss this, and thanks to the Martin Mars flying boat's huge size, you won't.

Canadian Snowbirds
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will perform at Oshkosh for the first time in more than three decades.Royal Canadian Air Force

2. Canadian Snowbirds The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, one of the most popular military aerial demonstration teams in the world, returns this year to Oshkosh for the first time in more than 30 years. The Snowbirds are currently scheduled to have a public practice over the grounds on Friday, July 29, with full performances as part of the daily afternoon air show on Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31. The Snowbirds fly Canadair CT-114 Tutor jets. The nine red-and-white aircraft used in the performances are piloted by experienced team members from the Royal Canadian Air Force.

3. Boeing's 100th Anniversary Boeing Plaza at show center on the grounds of Wittman Regional Airport is a spot you'll cross many times as you wear yourself ragged with so much to do and see at AirVenture. This year, Boeing's presence takes on extra significance because July 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic company's founding by William Boeing.

Oshkosh Fireworks
Night airshows at Oshkosh feature some of the best fireworks displays you'll see anywhere.Jim Koepnick

4. Night Airshows If you've never seen a night airshow, here's your chance — or actually two chances. The night shows will be held Wednesday and Saturday, with wild routines by airplanes spewing pyrotechnics to heart-pounding music, all followed by one of the best fireworks displays you'll see anywhere.

5. Pilot Proficiency Center This year's EAA Pilot Proficiency Center will be bigger and better than ever, with more Redbird simulators, more flight instructors on hand and more scenarios including lots of VFR scenarios in addition to the always-popular IFR scenarios with links to live controllers through PilotEdge. This is a great way to get out of the sun and sharpen your flying skills.

Oshkosh Seaplane Base
Cool off at the Seaplane Base, shown here at AirVenture 2015.Gary Rosier

6. Seaplane Base Speaking of the Seaplane Base, no visit to AirVenture is complete without stopping in. It's shady and usually a touch cooler on the water, and the seaplane-crazy folks you'll meet there are some of the friendliest in Oshkosh.

7. EAA Museum Another can't-miss stop is the EAA Museum with its incredible assortment of historic airplanes, from some of the earliest kitplanes ever built to engineering marvels like the amazing Bugatti 100P. Your AirVenture ticket also gets you into the museum at no extra charge. Keep an eye out for Flying's special contribution to the museum, Charles Lindbergh's leather flying helmet, signed by the Lone Eagle and several other famous aviators including Orville Wright and Amelia Earhart.

8. Something for Every Pilot If you peruse the daily events schedule for AirVenture you'll quickly realize there is so much going on that it would be impossible for any one person to take it all in. That's why so many Oshkosh visitors come back every year. Even though you can't possibly see everything, it's easy at AirVenture to fill every waking minute of every day immersed in the wonderful community of aviation. There's no event like it anywhere, and that's what makes it all so special. We hope to see you there.