Is Oshkosh a Good Introduction to Aviation?

We offer tips for making your family visit a memorable one—planting the seeds for a future love of GA.

Thanks to support from Boeing and EAA, all those 18 years and under have free admission to the show. [Courtesy: EAA]

Q: We’d like to bring our kids to EAA AirVenture this year—what do you suggest to make their experience (and ours) the best introduction to general aviation?

A: You can—and should—make your young people part of your AirVenture plan. The fresh air, welcoming folks, and clean grounds make for an excellent backdrop for family fun—and a phenomenal way to introduce your kids to the wide, wide world of aviation.

First off, they get in free! Yes, thanks to support from Boeing and EAA, all those 18 years and under have free admission to the show. And a lot of reasonable food options exist—though I advise that you bring snacks and water of your own that you know your kids like. You can refill water at various stations around the show.

Depending on the age of your charges, you could spend one morning or afternoon, a day, or a week at Oshkosh. You can have strollers for the young ones—and a network of trams (a win for any train-obsessed kids in your flock) course throughout the show areas and campgrounds.

My brother and sister-in-law brought my niece to Oshkosh for the first time when she was 3 years old. And even at that young age, she got a lot out of it. He gives some advice: Make sure that they get a chance to see the aerial displays, and if possible, the interior of any unique aircraft.

Also, plan time to take a break—or breaks—often during the long days outside. There are now modern bathrooms attached to Hangar C, where you can take care of any mishaps. And many of the exhibit tents have a/c or fans to help manage the heat and/or to get out of the rain. Make sure everyone is wearing good shoes for walking, and bring your rain gear in case you get caught under that one thunderstorm that seems to roll through the event every year.

Need more, beyond the thousands of aircraft and compelling aerobatic performances? KidVenture runs concurrently to the main event, and it’s a great place for your young ones to get some hands-on activity time focused on their age group. Can you picture your kid getting into riveting, or shaping a cool new propeller? Those are just two of the activities available.

KidVenture is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shuttles run from the main Bus Park depot and the EAA Museum, where KidVenture is held.

All in all, AirVenture gets a big thumbs up from families year after year—so bring yours to join ours.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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