AirVenture: A 30,000-foot View

A week in Oshkosh is never enough.

Oshkosh AirVenture
Can this year's AirVenture top all of the action and excitement from Oshkosh 2016? Probably, but it's going to be difficult.Jim Koepnick/EAA AirVenture

It happens every year in Oshkosh, just as the last airshow winds down and thousands of aviation aficionados begin dragging their chairs, coolers and kids toward their cars wondering how long it will take to exit the airport grounds. Almost at the same moment, a big collective smack to the forehead can be heard as one person after another realizes all the bits of AirVenture they missed.

This year, Flying thought we'd do our part to improve everyone's AirVenture experience by pointing out a few of the events and displays we think are pretty special.

Blue Angels – It's tough to outdo the U.S. Navy for a flight demonstration event, especially since this is their first visit to AirVenture. The six-ship formation's mission is inspiring young people to consider a naval career, but also getting people excited about aviation. The team begins arriving early in the week in preparation for their first full practice show on Friday at 4 p.m.

Pilot Proficiency Center – With loss of control inflight still the biggest killer in aviation, EAA and Redbird Simulators, working with the Society of Flight Educators (SAFE) National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), Hartzell Propellers, Jeppesen, AOPA, the Pilot Edge and others, offers pilots of any skill level an opportunity to push their flying skills to the edge.

All simulations are scenario based, like a departure in a Cessna 172 from McCall Idaho’s 6,100-foot runway at a field elevation of more than 5,000 feet. Doesn’t the engine quit shortly after takeoff too. How would you handle it? Work with volunteer CFIs to hone your skills as you learn to think through a variety of IFR and VFR scenarios. The PPC is conveniently placed right at the corner of Knapp St. and Celebration Way.

Blue Angels
The Navy's Blue Angels will arrive early in the week to prepare for their full air show performances on July 28 and 29.U.S. Navy

8th Air Force 75-Year Celebration – You might have a family member or neighbor who remembers the Mighty 8th Air Force and their fight to free Europe in World War II. Saturday July 29th is bomber day at AirVenture and the USAF's B1, B2, and B-52 will all fly as part of the celebration. A pair of B-29s, two B-17s, several B-25s, and an A-20 will follow the string of current bombers.

Don't Forget the Forums – AirVenture's famous for its forums, individual live sessions focused on one tiny niche within the industry, from the best fuselage welding techniques, or how to form the best aluminum ribs, to the best marketing techniques for CFIs or deciding whether it's time to switch out your old paper logbook for an electronic log version.

Airplanes, Airplanes, Airplanes – What would AirVenture be without flying machines of all shapes, sizes and colors? You'll see warbirds, old and new, homebuilts, ultralights, vintage, aerobatic and of course a great display at one place too many people often forget, the AirVenture seaplane base just east of the airport by Lake Winnebago.

AirVenture App – Is there anything worse than getting lost on the grounds at Wittman Airport? This year, laugh in the face of disorientation by downloading EAA AirVenture's app to your smart phone before you arrive. In addition to a map of the grounds and a list of events, the AirVenture app let's you organize your own daily schedule.

As the largest airshow and aviation adventure extravaganza in the U.S., we know we’ve barely scratched the surface of what you might experience at AirVenture, so tell us about the events you’re already planning that we didn’t mention … and tell us why they’re special to you.